John F. Keenan

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John Fontaine Keenan (born 1929) is a Senior United States District Judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

He was born in Manhattan and graduated from Regis High School in 1947. He received a B.B.A. from Manhattan College in 1951 and an LL.B from Fordham University School of Law, in 1954.

He is a Republican, though with few political connections, and a criminal prosecutor who was for many years the chief assistant to the District Attorneys in Queens and Manhattan.[1] He has occasionally accepted special appointments: in 1976 to serve as a special state prosecutor for corruption and in 1979 to serve as chair of the New York City Offtrack Betting Corporation for three years,[2] and in 1982 Criminal Justice Coordinator for New York City.[1] Ronald Reagan nominated him to the court on July 20, 1983,[2] to a seat vacated by Lloyd F. MacMahon, confirmed by the United States Senate on September 20, 1983,[3] and received his commission on September 20, 1983. He assumed senior status on December 31, 1996.

His many rulings include authorizing the publication of Jeffrey Toobin's Opening Arguments, an account of the Iran–Contra affair, over the objections and threat of prosecution by Lawrence E. Walsh;[4] managing the delivery of medical relief funds to India following the Union Carbide Corporation gas plant disaster in Bhopal[5] and dismissing attempts to sue Union Carbide in U.S. courts rather than in India;[6] denying a gay Irish group the right to hold its own march on the same day as the city's St. Patrick's Day parade in 1995, determining that the city's claims that it would pose a safety hazard trumped the group's First Amendment claims.[7] He presided at the trial of Bess Myerson, New York City Cultural Affairs Commissioner, on corruption charges in 1988[8] and that of Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos on racketeering charges in 1990.[9]


  1. ^ a b Werner, Leslie Maitland (April 23, 1984). "Getting the Judge Ready for the Bench". New York Times. Retrieved August 23, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Lynn, Frank (July 21, 1983). "Nominee for U.S. Judge: John Fontaine Keenan". New York Times. Retrieved August 23, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Keenan Approved for Bench". New York Times. September 21, 1983. Retrieved August 23, 2016. 
  4. ^ Wolff, Craig (February 1, 1991). "Judge Clears Publication of Book On Iran-Contra by Ex-Prosecutor". New York Times. Retrieved August 23, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Judge Seeks Bhopal Plan". New York Times. June 8, 1985. Retrieved August 23, 2016. 
  6. ^ Lewin, Tamar (May 13, 1986). "Judge Bars U.S. Suits on Bhopal". New York Times. Retrieved August 23, 2016. 
  7. ^ Lii, Jane H. (March 16, 1995). "Judge Says Gay Group Can't March". New York Times. Retrieved August 23, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Myerson Trial's Opening Statements to Start". New York Times. October 4, 1988. Retrieved August 23, 2016. 
  9. ^ Wolff, Craig (May 31, 1990). "Defense Lawyer Battles Judge at Marcos Trial". New York Times. Retrieved August 23, 2016.