Meusey Set ‘Gold Standard’ in Courtroom


oseph K. Meusey: May 16, 1941 — November 15, 2021.
By 
Andy Roberts
The Daily Record

While the legal profession can be confrontational and the situations in which the participants often find themselves doesn’t always lead to friendships, Joe Meusey created a legacy of civility and decorum for trial attorneys who’ll be fondly be remembered by everyone he met for many years.

Meusey, who was laid to rest on Nov. 30, was born and raised in Storm Lake, Iowa, the oldest of Kenneth and Veronica Meusey’s three sons. After high school, where he excelled in sports and speech, he attended Creighton University for a year before his father’s 1960 passing led him to return home to complete his undergraduate work at Buena Vista College.

From there it was off to Iowa City and the University of Iowa College of Law. While there he married and began a family. He returned to Omaha, where he joined the Fraser Stryker law firm. Meusey became a partner and worked at Fraser Stryker for 54 years before his 2019 retirement.

  “Joe Meusey spent his entire professional career as a trial lawyer handling complex cases. Although civil litigation is an adversary system, Joe treated every other lawyer with the highest level of courtesy and respect,” said Mike Coyle, a partner at Fraser Stryker. “Joe Meusey was a ferocious advocate but operated with the highest level of professionalism.”

Fraser Stryker’s John Boyer shared that respect for Meusey.

“I will remember Joe as an outstanding lawyer and loyal friend for 52 years,” Boyer said. “Joe was a man of compassion and understanding to not only the attorneys and staff at Fraser Stryker but to many people throughout all walks of life that he intersected with during his 80 years.”

Chief U.S. District Judge Robert Rossiter, speaking as a former law partner of Meusey’s for 33 years, had tremendous respect for the attorney and man.

“Joe was one of the best I ever saw in the courtroom. His ability to connect with a jury was simply amazing,” Rossiter told The Daily Record in an email. “Joe was the epitome of a professional, ethical, and collegial advocate (and he was a lot of fun!)”

Those thoughts were shared by Boyer: “Joe always had respect for his fellow lawyers and dealt with them with honesty and integrity. His demeanor always set an example for his attorney adversaries and the judges throughout the state of Nebraska.”

Meusey also served the legal profession and his country during the Vietnam War as a member of the United States Army Judge Advocate General Reserve. He was honored for many years in the Great Plains Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America rankings based on reviews and nominations from his peers. Meusey was also a member of several professional associations. He was a guest lecturer at the Creighton School of Law and an instructor at University of Nebraska College of Medicine.

Sports was one of his loves, and he particularly enjoyed those that combined strategy and skill, particularly golf and baseball. Meusey was club champion at Happy Hollow in 1990 and the club president in 1995.

“Joe was equally competitive on the golf course and when he wasn’t working as a lawyer you would probably find him out at Happy Hollow,” Coyle said.

Boyer pointed out that last summer, around the time of Meusey’s 80th birthday, he took pride in being able to still shoot well below his age from the most difficult tees on the Happy Hollow Golf Course.

Meusey and wife, Sue, enjoyed snowbird getaways to Avondale Golf Club in Palm Desert, California, and travel, including international trips. Meusey used his courtroom oratorical skills to cheer for his beloved Iowa Hawkeyes and Chicago Cubs.

Rossiter suggested Meusey will be remembered for his family, his work at Fraser Stryker, and the many litigation attorneys he trained and mentored over the years. That, Boyer agreed, was another highlight of his friend and colleague’s career.

 “Joe would say to young lawyers to prepare exceptionally well, present with clarity and understanding, and always be humble showing dignity in both victory and defeat in the courtroom,” Boyer recalled.

This was an amazing man and attorney, who somehow also found the time to pursue model railroading to the extent that over the years he built a museum-quality HO layout. Meusey collected countless ring binders and bins of information on his many interests, even maintaining records of every round of golf he played, later analyzing the stats.

Meusey passed away peacefully at 80 years of age from complications of a heart attack on Nov. 15 in Omaha, surrounded by his loving family. He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Sue, and six children and stepchildren plus grandchildren.

“Joe was really the gold standard,” Coyle said.

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