John Q. Kelly

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John Quinlan Kelly (born July 31, 1953)[1] is a New York City attorney specializing in high-profile wrongful death cases, and whose clients (includes the family of Nicole Brown Simpson and Natalie Holloway) are at the center of some of the biggest news stories in history.[1]

He is currently the personal injury department chair at Ivey, Barnum, & O'Mara, LLC.


Kelly started out as a trial assistant in the Queens District Attorney’s Office,[2] prosecuting mostly homicides and major narcotics cases.[1] Later, as a criminal defense attorney, he successfully represented at trial a number of high-profile clients charged with major crimes.[2] Kelly then turned his attention to civil litigation, which has been his focus for the past 20 years.

High-profile cases[edit]

Estate of Nicole Brown Simpson v. O.J. Simpson[edit]

Lead attorney for the Estate of Nicole Brown Simpson, et al. v. O.J. Simpson in the wrongful death action resulting from the homicides of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. After what was described as a near flawless performance,[3] the jury returned a verdict finding O.J. Simpson responsible for her death and awarding punitive damages to the Estate of Nicole Brown Simpson.[4]

Natalee Holloway’s Mother, Beth Holloway[edit]

Attorney for Beth Holloway relating to the disappearance of her daughter, Natalee Holloway, while on spring break on the island of Aruba. It was Mr. Kelly's planning, and personal interactions with suspect Joran van der Sloot that directly led to van der Sloot, being indicted in the U.S. on federal extortion and wire fraud counts.[5]

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade mishap[edit]

Attorney for Kathleen Caronna, who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade when the Cat in the Hat balloon struck and broke a lamp post, which then struck Ms. Caronna on the head.[6]

Estate of Kathleen Savio v. ex-cop Drew Peterson[edit]

Attorney for the Estate of Kathleen Savio, third wife of former Bollingbrook police officer Drew Peterson. A coroner's inquest originally ruled Ms. Savio had accidentally drowned in her bathtub, but a subsequent inquest ruled the death a homicide, paving the way for a wrongful death claim by the Estate against Drew Peterson.[7]

Wrong-way Taconic Parkway crash victims[edit]

Attorney for the Estates of Mike Bastardi Sr. and Guy Bastardi, killed in an automobile accident by a woman going the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway in her van with several children inside.[8]

Galleria Parking Garage homicide victim[edit]

Attorney for Concetta Russo-Carriero who was murdered at lunchtime on a week day while walking to her car parked in a parking garage adjacent to the Galleria Mall, owned and operated to the City of White Plains. The jury returned a verdict against the City of White Plains, finding that the City failed to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition.[9]

Antelope Canyon flash flood disaster victims[edit]

Attorney for the Estates of several victims of the Antelope Canyon flash flood disaster. A group of French teenage girls drowned while on a guided Trek America tour through a slot canyon in Arizona when a flash flood roared through it.[10]

Raffaele Sollecito, Amanda Knox’s co-defendant[edit]

American attorney for Raffaele Sollecito, who along with Amanda Knox, is charged with the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy. Mr. Kelly was present in court in Florence, Italy when Mr. Sollecito appeared at the appeals trial to give his statement to the court.[11]

Yankee great Joe Pepitone[edit]

Attorney for Joe Pepitone, former New York Yankees great, charged with possessing a large amount of cocaine, a loaded weapon, currency and drug transaction records. He faced a mandatory life sentence. Mr. Pepitone was acquitted by a jury of all felony counts after trial.[12]


Others clients Kelly has represented/represents include the estate of heiress Anne Scripps Douglas (bludgeoned to death by her husband),[13] estate of Zachary Hartwell (passenger in car driven off road by an intoxicated Ryan Dunn, star of the Jackass movie series),[14] estate of Wu (child who fell out of sixth floor hallway window when visiting grandparents)[15] and, estate of Rachelle Curry (drowned in Sprain Brook reservoir when fiancé drove car off road under suspicious circumstances).[16]

Media Coverage[edit]

Kelly is a media fixture both as a featured guest and as a legal commentator. Kelly has also been profiled in New York Post, New York Daily News, New York Law Journal, Lawyers Weekly, New York Magazine, Worth Magazine and Greenwich Magazine.

Published in “Vital Speeches of the Day” and was a guest speaker at the 24th Annual Masters of Trial Advocacy Retreat in 2012.


Kelly grew up in Chicago, the eighth of nine children, of a school teacher mother and lawyer father.[1] After graduating from Georgetown University, he travelled through Europe and the Middle East for approximately two years before returning to earn his J.D. from Suffolk University Law School,[1] where he was selected to represent his school in the national moot court competition and served as editor of the law journal (“the Advocate”). Kelly is married with four children, and resides in Westchester County, New York.


  1. ^ a b c d e Timothy Dumas, “Righting the Wrong” Greenwich Magazine (February, 2013)
  2. ^ a b Linda Stasi, “I’m OK Says O.J.: He Has Tougher Grilling Ahead” New York Daily News (October 12, 1995)
  3. ^ Bill Hewitt, "The Shoes Fit So They Wouldn't Acquit" People Magazine (February 17, 1997)
  4. ^ B. Drummond Ayres, Jr., “Jury Decides Simpson Must Pay $25M in Punitive Award” New York Times (February 11, 1997)
  5. ^ Dan Mangan, “ Fatal Bluff” New York Post (June 9, 2010)
  6. ^ Susan Saulny, "Woman hurt in '97 Macy's Parade Settles Suit" New Tork Times (March 7, 2001)
  7. ^ Erika Slife, “Drew Peterson Sued: Peterson Faces Lawsuit Over Death of Kathleen Savio” Chicago Tribune (April 22, 2001)
  8. ^ Aman Ali, “Kin of 2 In Wrong-Way Crash Hire Celebrity NYC Attorney” The Journal News (January, 2010)
  9. ^ Lee Higgins, "Connie Russo's Family: 9 Year Fight For Justice Culminates In $2M Award" The Journal News (February 11, 2014)
  10. ^ UPI, “Kin of 3 Hikers Who Died In Flooding File Suit” Desert News (February 23, 1998)
  11. ^ Elaine Aradillas, "Amanda Knox's Ex-Boyfriend Distancing Himself From Her For Future Trial" (February 27,2014)
  12. ^ UPI, “Pepitone Acquitted On Serious Charges” Chicago Tribune (September 19, 1986)
  13. ^ Ronald Sullvian, "Heiress Dies After Beating And Spouse Is A Suspect" The New York Times (January 7, 1994)
  14. ^ Virginia Skeels, “ Ryan Dunn’s Estate Sued By Parents of Passenger Killed Alongside Him In Drunk Driving Crash” Mail Online (August 8, 2012)
  15. ^ John Nickerson, "Suit Filed In Child's 2012 Death Fall" Stanford Advocate (May 2, 2013)
  16. ^ Nancy L. Claus, "A Fatal Breakup - The Tragic Tale of the Life - And Mysterious Death - of Rachelle Curry" Westchester Magazine (April, 2007)