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Urbom, Warren Keith

Born December 17, 1925, in Atlanta, NE
Died July 28, 2017, in Lincoln, NE

Federal Judicial Service

Judge, U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska

Nominated by Richard M. Nixon on March 11, 1970, to a seat vacated by Robert Van Pelt. Confirmed by the Senate on April 23, 1970, and received commission on April 24, 1970. Served as chief judge, 1972-1986. Assumed senior status, December 31, 1990. Assumed inactive senior status, April 25, 2014.


A.B. degree with highest distinction, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1950

J.D. degree with distinction, University of Michigan Law School, 1953

National Endowment for the Humanities Seminar, Harvard University, 1978

Program of Instruction for Lawyers, Harvard University, 1979

Federal Judicial Center Seminar on Experts, Statistics and Economics, University of Wisconsin, 1985

Professional Career

Practicing trial lawyer in Lincoln, Nebraska, 1953-1970

Member, Lincoln Bar Association, Nebraska State Bar Association and American Bar Association

Member, Nebraska State Bar Foundation

United States District Judge for the District of Nebraska from 1970-1990

Chief Judge 1972-1986

United States Senior District Judge, effective January 1, 1991

Member, Board of Directors of Federal Judicial Center, 1982-1986

Chair, Federal Judicial Center Committee on Orientation for Newly Appointed District Judges, 1985-1989

Member, Eighth Circuit Committee on Model Jury Instructions, 1983-2010, which produced Eighth Circuit Model Criminal Instructions

Member, Supreme Court of Nebraska Committee on Pattern Jury Instructions which produced Nebraska Jury Instructions (1969), Nebraska Jury Instructions, Civil Second Edition (1989) and proposed Nebraska Criminal Jury Instructions (1989)

Member, Supreme Court of Nebraska Committee on Practice and Procedure which produced Nebraska Rules of Evidence (1975)

Member, State-Federal Judicial Council of Nebraska, 1977-1986

President, United States District Judge's Association for the Eighth Circuit 1977-1979

Adjunct instructor in trial advocacy, University of Nebraska College of Law, 1979-1990

Adjunct instructor in trial advocacy, Emory University School of Law, Atlanta, Georgia, 1994, 1995

Co-Founder and Administrator of Robert Van Pelt American Inn of Court, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1987-2002

Honors And Awards

Elected to American College of Trial Lawyers, 1970

Medal of Honor, Nebraska Wesleyan University Alumni Association, 1983

Honorary Doctor of Laws degree, Nebraska Wesleyan University, 1984

Outstanding Legal Educator, Nebraska Bar Association Foundation, 1990

Distinguished Service Award, Kiwanis Club of Lincoln, 1992-1993

Liberty Bell Award, Lincoln Bar Association, 1993

Executive of the Year Award, Professional Secretaries International, Cornhusker Chapter, 1994

Lewis F. Powell Jr. Award for Professionalism and Ethics, American Inns of Court Foundation, 1995

Lifetime Mentor Award, Robert Van Pelt American Inns of Court Foundation, 2002

Listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in Government, and Who's Who in American Law

Community Service

Nebraska Wesleyan University, chair, Board of Governors, 1975-1980

Nebraska Wesleyan University, chair, Commission on the Future of Nebraska Wesleyan University, 1980-1982

Nebraska Wesleyan University, chair, Committee on Board Affairs, 1980-1983

Nebraska Wesleyan University, member, Committee on Student Affairs, 1983-1985

Nebraska Wesleyan University, member, Board of Governors and Board of Trustees, 1957-1986

Nebraska Wesleyan University, Governor Emeritus, 1986-2009

St. Paul School of Theology, Kansas City, Missouri, member, Board of Trustees, 1986-1990

St. Paul School of Theology, Kansas City, Missouri, member, Committee on Academic Affairs, 1986-1990

Lincoln Y.M.C.A., president, Board of Directors, 1965-1966

Member, United States Constitution Bicentennial Commission of Nebraska, 1987


U.S. Army T. Sergeant, 1944-1946


  • Book: Called to Justice - The Life of a Federal Trial Judge
  • Book: Ghost Dancing the Law: The Wounded Knee Trials
    • Sayer, John William (2000), Ghost Dancing the Law: The Wounded Knee Trials. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Induction (May 5, 1970)

Memorial (February 2, 2018)

Oral History, Creighton University School of Law     Download Oral History Video *
* The oral history videos on Creighton University School of Law's website must be downloaded before viewing.

Resolution: Senior Status (July 11, 1991)

Resolution: Regarding the Retirement to Inactive Senior Status (April 25, 2014)