Ulrich to retire from Missouri Court of Appeals

18 July 2007

Ulrich to retire from Missouri Court of Appeals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Judge Robert G. Ulrich announced today that he will retire August 1, 2007, from the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, after more than 18 years of judicial service. He has served as a judge of the court since Gov. John Ashcroft appointed him in March 1989 for a term beginning the next month. He previously had served more than seven and a half years as the United States attorney for the Western District of Missouri. Ulrich has accepted a post as a professor of law at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., where he will begin teaching this fall.  

"Bob Ulrich is a very special person and an outstanding judge," said Judge Victor Howard, chief judge of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District. "His unique background, experience and talent combined to place him among the cream of the crop. It is unfortunate to lose Judge Ulrich at the prime of his judicial career. I'm just glad he was able to devote himself to the citizens of Missouri as long as he did. His students at Liberty University will be most fortunate to be able to learn from his vast legal expertise." While on the Court of Appeals, Ulrich authored more than 1,000 opinions, Howard noted.

“I am privileged to have been extended the opportunity serve the people of our nation and the state of Missouri in several capacities," Ulrich said. "The years of public service as a Marine officer, a lawyer and a judge have introduced me to extraordinary people who have made life more interesting. I am convinced that we as a people can accomplish virtually anything when we're united to address a cause."

A native of St. Louis, Ulrich earned his bachelor of arts degree in 1963 from William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo. After serving on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps from October 1963 until September 1966, he returned to Missouri to earn his law degree in 1969 from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He continued serving in the Marine Corps Reserves from September 1966 through July 1994, retiring at the rank of colonel after serving extensive military assignments, including command of artillery and infantry units. Ulrich earned two master's degrees in law: the first, in international law, in 1972 from UMKC; and the second, in judicial process, in 2001 from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Ulrich began his legal career while still in law school, serving as a law clerk to a judge of the Jackson County circuit court. After graduating from law school, he alternated work in the private practice of law with two terms as an assistant U.S. attorney: the first from 1973 to 1976 in Kansas City, Mo., during President Richard Nixon's administration; and the second from 1978 to 1981 in Springfield, Mo., during President Jimmy Carter's administration. Throughout his private and federal law career, he engaged in extensive trial practice, both in criminal trials representing the United States and in civil trials representing the United States as well as both individual and corporate plaintiffs and defendants. He is admitted to practice law in Missouri state courts and in all federal trial courts as well as before the United States Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

In September 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed Ulrich as the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri. While serving in this capacity, he was selected to serve four years – three of them as chairman – on the Attorney General's Advisory Committee of United States Attorneys, for which he consulted with the attorney general and deputy attorney general about such issues as allocation of personnel among the 93 U.S. attorneys' offices; helped present the Department of Justice's budget to Congress; served as a liaison between the U.S. attorneys and the nation's investigative agencies; and appeared before congressional committees on behalf of the department and the U.S. attorneys.

He also was selected to serve two years as vice-chairman of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Executive Review Board, which resolves national problems encountered by and among eight federal law enforcement agencies; six years on the Department of Justice Economic Crime Council, which establishes investigative priorities for such crimes; three years on the Department of Justice Resource Board, for which he helped present the department's annual $7 billion budget to Congress; two years on the Department of Justice Personnel Management Board, which establishes personnel policy for the department's more than 150,000 employees.

In addition, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals selected Ulrich to serve three years on its Advisory Committee, a statutory committee that considers issues confronting the court, including rule change proposals; and one year on its Sentencing Guidelines Education Committee, which prepared a course to instruct judges and lawyers about the then-recently adopted federal sentencing guidelines.

Since joining the Court of Appeals, Ulrich has been asked to serve in several distinctive positions. On a national level, he was one of 12 judges selected by the Department of State to represent the United States in discussions with the Mexican judiciary at two binational judicial conferences – the first in October 1991 in Mexico City, and the second in August 1992 in Washington, D.C.

On a state level, in 2001, he chaired the state's Redistricting Commission, a commission of six appellate judges charged by constitution with the responsibility of redistricting Missouri's legislative districts following the decennial census after the General Assembly and a citizens commission failed to reapportion the districts. This was the first time in the history of Missouri that the Redistricting Commission was required to reapportion districts in both the House and the Senate.

From 1999 to 2001, he also chaired an ad hoc committee comprised of members from all three branches of government to consider changes to Missouri's system of delivering justice from courthouses in select rural counties to a judicial center concept serving multiple counties and to oversee the resulting pilot study. In addition, in 1996 to 1997, he chaired an ad hoc committee to review security deficiencies in Missouri's courts and courthouses and to propose changes and legislation to address security needs.

Ulrich has earned many awards and honors during his distinguished career. Notably, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995, a distinguished service award in 2001 and emeritus status in 2002, all from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law; an alumni service award in 2003 from UMKC; the Law and Service award in November 1998 and an alumni achievement award in February 1987, both from William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo.; and a presidential medallion in January 2007 from the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In 1982, Ulrich established the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and the Law Enforcement Coordination Program, both in the western district of Missouri, and three years later, he established the Kansas City Metropolitan Drug Task Force. As a result of his leadership, in 1989 Ulrich received a community service award from the Kansas City Area National Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse and a crime service award from the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime in Kansas City, Mo.

Ulrich presently serves on the board of trustees for the Liberty Memorial Foundation in Kansas City, Mo.; UMKC and the UMKC School of Law Foundation; and William Jewell College. He also serves on the board of regents for the Midwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., and on the Missouri Alliance, a group of selected alumni who speak with members of the General Assembly on behalf of the University of Missouri's four-campus system about the system's financial needs.

Ulrich is married to the former JoAnn Denmark. They have two adult daughters, Jill and Jane.

For questions about the Judge Ulrich, please contact Beth Riggert, Communications Counsel for the Supreme Court of Missouri, via cell phone at (573) 619-2849 or via e-mail at beth.riggert@courts.mo.gov.