ABA Statement Re: The Death of Federal Judge Robert J. Kelleher
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 22, 2012 — The American Bar Association mourns the loss of Robert J. Kelleher, the nation’s oldest serving federal judge, whose contributions and accomplishments have served as an inspiration to the legal profession. He died June 20 at age 99.
Kelleher was a remarkable leader with an unwavering commitment to our system of justice. He was appointed to the federal bench in 1970 by President Richard Nixon and provided substantial institutional knowledge and guidance throughout his distinguished career as a judge for the U.S. District Court, Central District of California.
Judge Kelleher presided over historic cases, including the trials of Christopher Boyce and Andrew Daulton Lee, who were convicted of espionage in the late 1970s for their role in selling government secrets to the Soviet Union. His contemporary decisions offer clarity on how existing laws apply to the rapidly evolving field of e-commerce. In the case of Hendrickson v. eBay Inc., Kelleher ruled that the company could not be held accountable for copyright infringement for items sold through a third party on its website.
Before becoming a judge, Kelleher served in the U.S. Naval Reserve and as an associate attorney for the U.S. Department of the Army. He later became assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California.
Kelleher will also be remembered for his impact on modern tennis. Kelleher was the U.S. Davis Cup captain in 1962-63, and a winner in 1963, as well as a president of the United States Lawn Tennis Association. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2000.
Kelleher’s numerous contributions to the legal and tennis professions are exceptional and long-lasting. He will be sorely missed.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.
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