Distinguished Lawyer Memorial Honoree


Hon. Judith Keep

Nominated by President Jimmy Carter, Judge Keep came onto the federal bench in 1980. She served as Chief District Judge of the Southern District from 1991 to 1998 and chaired the Conference of Chief District Judges in 1997. She was the first female federal judge in her district and its first female chief judge. Judge Keep distinguished herself as a member of the Judicial Conference of United States. She represented the Ninth Circuit District Judges at the JCUS from 1999-2002. She also was appointed by Chief Justice Rehnquist to the Defender Services Committee of the JCUS in 1998 and served through 2004. Judge Keep made a significant contribution to court governance as a member of the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit for eight years. She first represented the chief district judges from 1994 to 1997. Her service to the council continued as president of the District Judges Association from 1997 to 1999, and then as the district judges’ representative to the JCUS from 1999 to 2002. Other service to the Ninth Circuit included chairing the Task Force on Judicial Wellness, which paved the way for groundbreaking efforts to promote health and wellness among judges, and the Federal Court Study Committee. Prior to joining the federal bench, Judge Keep served as a Municipal Court Judge in San Diego from 1976 to 1980, in private practice from 1973 to 1976, and as a staff attorney for Defenders, Inc. from 1971 to 1973. Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Judge Keep came to California for college. She received her B.A. degree in Humanities and Literature from Scripps College in Claremont, Calif. After graduation, she moved to San Diego and taught English at the Bishop School in La Jolla. She then enrolled at the University of San Diego School of Law, where she received her J.D. degree in 1970, graduating summa cum laude.