G. Robert Blakey

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G. Robert Blakey
G. Robert Blakey headshot
Born (1936-01-07) January 7, 1936 (age 84)
CitizenshipUnited States
EducationAB 1957; JD 1960
Alma materUniversity of Notre Dame
OccupationLaw professor
EmployerNotre Dame Law School
Known forRacketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)
Elaine Menard
(m. 1958; died 2002)

George Robert Blakey (born January 7, 1936) is an American[3] attorney and law professor. He is best known for his work in connection with drafting the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and for scholarship on that subject.

Education and family[edit]

Blakey, an American Catholic of Irish descent,[3] was born in Burlington, North Carolina. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1957, earning a degree in philosophy with honors, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He then attended Notre Dame Law School, where he was an associate editor of the Notre Dame Law Review and was awarded a J.D. 1960.[1]

In April 1958, during his first year of law school, Blakey married Elaine Menard, a graduate of St. Mary's College. The couple had 8 children and 18 grandchildren, and remained married until her death in 2002.[2] He is the father of John Robert Blakey, a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, who was formerly chief of the Special Prosecutions Bureau for the Cook County State's Attorney and a special assistant attorney in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.[4]

RICO and other legislation[edit]

Under the close supervision of Senator John Little McClellan, the Chairman of the Committee for which he worked, Blakey drafted the "RICO Act," Title IX of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, signed into law by Richard M. Nixon.[1] While in law school, Blakey edited a student note on the unsuccessful prosecution of attendees at the Apalachin Meeting, which first sparked his interest in organized crime; he also wrote a note that analyzed civil liberties in the union movement.[5] In 1960, after law school, Blakey joined the United States Department of Justice under its Honor Program, and he became a Special Attorney in the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the Criminal Division of the Department. After Robert F. Kennedy became Attorney General, the Department began a major effort to bring criminal prosecutions against organized crime members, corrupt political figures, and faithless union officials. The Section assigned Blakey to the effort.[6] He remained at Justice until 1964, leaving the summer after the November 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy.[1]

Subsequently, numerous states passed racketeering legislation with Blakey's assistance modeled on the federal statute. In addition, under the close supervision of McClellan, Blakey also drafted Title III on wiretapping of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. Numerous states, too, have wiretapping legislation modeled on the federal statute, and Blakey aided in those efforts. It is suspected, especially among those in the Italian American community, that Blakey intentionally arrived at the acronym RICO as a left-handed slight at the Italian American ethnicity, since the 'mafia' was a principle target of the law. "Rico" is a well known nickname for "Enrico" the Italian version for Henry and a popular name among Italian American immigrants. Additionally, "Rico" was the name of an Italian American mobster in the 1930 gangster movie "Little Caesar" a film Blakey may have derived the name from. [7]

Assassinations committee[edit]

Blakey was a Notre Dame law professor from 1964 to 1969, when he returned to Washington as Chief Counsel of Subcommittee on Criminal Laws and Procedures of the Senate Judiciary Committee. John Little McClellan was the Chairman of the Subcommittee.[8] Blakey credits the success of his drafting work to the dedication to needs of law enforcement, the understanding of the drafting and the processing of legislation, and basic sense of fairness of McClellan as well as the extraordinary confidence other members of the Senate placed in McClellan. Only he could have seen to the successful completion of Blakey's handiwork; if Blakey was its draftsman, McClellan was its architect and master builder.

During 1967, he was a Consultant on organized crime to the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice; Lyndon B. Johnson created the Commission to examine crime in America. It recommended, among other measures, new racketeering and wiretapping legislation.

Blakey was Chief Counsel and Staff Director to the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations from 1977 to 1979, which investigated the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. under the direction of Louis Stokes. Blakey also helped Stokes draft the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. He and Richard Billings, the editor of the final report of the Committee, would later write a book about the assassination.

Supreme Court appearances[edit]

In Blakey's first appearance before the United States Supreme Court, he filed a brief on behalf of the Attorneys General of Massachusetts and Oregon and the National District Attorneys Association in the case of Berger v. New York (1967), which dealt with wiretapping. He argued on behalf of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation in what became Holmes v. SIPC (1992); he argued on behalf of pro-life activist Joseph Scheidler in what became Scheidler v. National Organization for Women (2006), and he argued on behalf of the beneficiaries of insurance policies in what became Humana, Inc. v. Forsyth (1999).


Blakey served as a law professor at Notre Dame Law School from 1964 to 1969. From 1973 to 1980, he served as a law professor at Cornell Law School, and was director of the Cornell Institute on Organized Crime. In 1980, Blakey returned to teaching law at Notre Dame, and in 1985 was named the William J. and Dorothy K. O'Neill Professor of Law there.[1]

In December 2013, the 80 year old retired professor Blakey agreed to accept censure by the D.C. Office of Bar Counsel related to charges made against him for disclosing confidential documents of the General Electric company. Washington D.C. whistleblower attorney Lynne Bernabei, and Blakey's former student (and former General Electric attorney) Adriana Koeck, brought the charges with respect to internal General Electric documents that they had shared with Blakey, and that he subsequently gave to a reporter for The New York Times as well as to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and federal prosecutors. Blakey told the Bar Counsel office that he believed that the documents could be disclosed because they were covered by a crime/fraud exception to rules forbidding lawyers from disclosing clients' confidential information.[9]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Blakey, G. Robert (February 1964). "Rule of Announcement and Unlawful Entry: Miller v. United States and Ker v. California". University of Pennsylvania Law Review. 112 (4): 499–562. ISSN 0041-9907. OCLC 2359920. 112 U. Pa. L. Rev. 499.
  • —; Kurland, Harold A. (August 1978). "Development of the Federal Law of Gambling". Cornell Law Review. 63 (6): 923–1021. ISSN 0010-8847. OCLC 1565116. 63 Cornell L. Rev. 923.
  • —; Goldstock, Ronald (1978). Techniques in the Investigation and Prosecution of Organized Crime: Manuals of Law and Procedure. Ithaca, New York: Cornell Institute on Organized Crime. OCLC 4049476.
  • —; Billings, Richard N. (1980). The Plot to Kill the President (2d ed.). New York: Times Books. ISBN 0-8129-0929-1.
  • —; Perry, Thomas A. (April 1990). "An Analysis of the Myths That Bolster Efforts to Rewrite RICO and the Various Proposals for Reform: 'Mother of God—Is This the End of RICO?'". Vanderbilt Law Review. 43 (3): 851–1101. ISSN 0042-2533. OCLC 1768951. 43 Vand. L. Rev. 851.
  • —; Billings, Richard N. (1992). Fatal Hour: The Assassination of President Kennedy by Organized Crime. New York: Berkley Books. ISBN 0-4251-3570-5.
  • —; Murray, Brian J. (2002). "Threats, Free Speech, and the Jurisprudence of the Federal Criminal Law" (PDF). BYU Law Review. 2002 (4): 829–1130. ISSN 0360-151X. OCLC 2243706. 2002 BYU L. Rev. 829. Retrieved 2012-12-12.


  1. ^ a b c d e Blakey, G. Robert (July 27, 2005). "Curriculum vitae" (PDF). Retrieved March 6, 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Elaine Menard Blakey". The Daily Gazette. Schenectady, New York. 2002-12-08. p. B8. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Mansnerus, Laura (30 January 1994). "When Is Protest Not Protest? When You Call It Extortion". New York Times. p. E4.
  4. ^ Skiba, Katherine (August 5, 2014). "Obama nominates 2 veterans of 26th & Cal as judges". Chicago Tribune. Chicago. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
  5. ^ (Blakey 2006, n. 30)
  6. ^ (Blakey 2006, p. 11)
  7. ^ Ciolli, Rita. "Verdict Rekindles Debate Over Racketeering Law." [New York] Newsday. 12 December 1988 (p. 3). Power, William. "This Certainly Takes All the Fun Out of Watching 'Little Caesar'." The Wall Street Journal. 22 August 1988.
  8. ^ (Blakey 2006, pp. 14–18)
  9. ^ http://abovethelaw.com/2015/12/emeritus-law-professor-sanctioned-over-the-disclosure-of-documents/


Further reading[edit]