1979: "Marathon Judge" James T. O'Keefe

Retired Judge James T.O. Keefe passed away at age 69 in Palo Alto 1979.  Certainly he ruled over fascinatiing cases, but his father, also a judge ,was, I believe  involved in Pescadero cases such as the famous “Pebble Beach War.”

Here’s the obit:

“Born in Menlo Park, he was the son of the late James T. O’Keefe, Sr, who was dean of the San Mateo County bar when he died at the age of 93. His mother, Mary Ellen O’Keefe, was a member of the pioneer Gilcrest family of Half Moon Bay and was born there when it was known as Spanish Town.

“After serving for 26 years as Menlo Park attorney, Judge O’Keefe was elected to the bench in 1960. As a jurist, he was famous for his wit, his human touch and his vast amount of patience. For this latter quality he became known as ‘the Marathon Judge.’

“During his term on the bench he established a few records for long distance cases. One case for damages required 55 days before a jury, while a land dispute ran 70 days. He sat through 62 days of seemingly endless argument over who was to pay for shipments of tropical flowers from Hawaii to the mainland.

“And some sort of record was set when Judge O’Keefe presided over a 25-day divorce trial. At stake was $6 million in community property. Long trials did not bother Judge O’Keefe, obviously, because, as he said:

“In the interest of justice no unfair impediment solely in the interest of time should be interposed, because to do so may well distract and deny justice……”

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About June Morrall

1947 - 2010
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