The Legal Advocate

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NITA Honors A First Generation Stalwart, Keith Roberts

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Keith E. Roberts, prior NITA Board Member and long-time faculty passed away on Mar. 15, 2014. Mr. Roberts was a beloved teacher of trial advocacy who gave generously of his time and talents to train other lawyers in the fine art of gentlemanly advocacy in the courtroom. A gifted trial lawyer himself, many had the privilege of having him for an instructor at our annual National Programs held here in Boulder as well as our Chicago based programs. Keith was the 1989 recipient of our The Honorable Robert E. Keeton Award for his Outstanding Service as a NITA Faculty Member and one of the true NITA giants. “A wonderful man, a great lawyer and an excellent teacher,” said NITA Board member, Professor Thomas Geraghty, he will be greatly missed.

“I had the privilege of having him for an instructor long ago, at the National Program in Boulder. Later I taught with him. Nice guy.” – recalls Mark Oates, a NITA faculty member.

NITA Program Director, Daniel Toomey reminiscences about Keith;

I remember teaching with Keith in the National in the late ’70s or early ’80s. As terrific a teacher as he was, his critiques were always gentle. I remember at lunch in the Kittridge Dining Hall, I noted how great it must have been for his son to be able to practice with him given the great teacher he was. “Not so fast,” Keith rejoined. He related the first trial his son co-tried with him before a judge he knew very well. 

At one point early in the trial, the court, annoyed, said to the plaintiffs’ counsel (Keith and his son), “Come to the bench!” As Keith’s son approached, the judge said, “Not you, just him (Keith).”
At this point, the judge said to Keith, “if you interrupt your son one more time, I’ll order you out of the courtroom!”

Keith said it was the last time he sought to instruct his son in court. By the way, his son won the case! 

2 thoughts on “NITA Honors A First Generation Stalwart, Keith Roberts
  • Based on appearance, demeanor and joy of the practice, Mortimor’s Rumpole comes to mind. A loss for all who knew him and NITA large.

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    NITA’s team of practicing lawyers, professors and judges from around the nation dedicates its efforts to the training and development of skilled and ethical legal advocates to improve the adversarial justice system. NITA's Goals are to:
    • Promote justice through effective and ethical advocacy.
    • Train and mentor lawyers to be competent and ethical advocates in pursuit of justice.
    • Develop and teach trial advocacy skills to support and promote the effective and fair administration of justice.
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