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June 18, 2019

Ninth Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown to receive ABA’s 2019 John Marshall Award

CHICAGO, June 18, 2019 – Judge M. Margaret McKeown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is the recipient of the 2019 John Marshall Award, presented by the American Bar Association’s Judicial Division and the Standing Committee on the American Judicial System.

The John Marshall Award recognizes individuals who have had a positive national impact on the justice system. It is open to anyone responsible for extraordinary improvement to the administration of justice in the categories of judicial independence, justice system reform or public awareness about the justice system. Past recipients include former U.S. Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor, and eight state court judges and justices.

McKeown is nationally recognized for her work on gender issues, judicial ethics and international rule of law. “Judge McKeown has spent her judicial career dedicated to the improvement of the administration of justice, to instituting judicial reform, to advancing judicial independence and to advancing public awareness of the legal system,” according to the nominating letter submitted by Llewelyn G. Pritchard of the Seattle-area firm of Helsell Fetterman. The nomination was supported by many lawyers and judges, including current and former state and federal judges.

McKeown began her legal and judicial career in Seattle and currently lives in San Diego.  She practiced law in Seattle and Washington, D.C., and was the first female partner of the law firm Perkins Coie.  She was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the Ninth Circuit in 1998 and was a 2010 winner of the ABA Margaret Brent Award, which recognizes outstanding women lawyers who have achieved professional excellence and paved the way for other women in the legal profession.

When the #metoo issue hit the judiciary, McKeown was appointed to lead the Ninth Circuit Task Force on the Workplace. U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts later named her to the national Workplace Environment Working Group. “Under her leadership,” Pritchard wrote, “the Ninth Circuit is now recognized as a pioneer on a number of key changes in the judicial workplace.”

McKeown is former president of the Federal Judges Association, where she was a key leader in the successful pay restoration effort for federal judges. She is former chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Federal Judicial Improvements. She was instrumental in creating a program to inform the public about court rulings, the electronic Media Alerts on the Federal Courts.

Internationally, McKeown chairs the board of the ABA Rule of Law Initiative and previously chaired the Latin America Council.  She is also on the managerial board of the International Association of Women Judges.  She has participated in numerous judicial independence and judicial reform initiatives around the world, including Peru, El Salvador, Mexico, Colombia, Vietnam, China, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, and Bahrain. Domestically, she worked to improve judicial ethics as chair of the federal Codes of Conduct Committee, as a member of the ABA commission that redrafted the Model Code of Judicial Conduct, and as a drafter of ethics codes for various foreign judiciaries.

McKeown is writing a book on the environmental legacy of the late Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. She is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center.

McKeown will receive the John Marshall Award at the Judicial Division Awards luncheon Friday, Aug. 9, at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. For media credentials to cover the luncheon, contact Marc Davis at [email protected] or (202) 662-1773. Non-media tickets are $55 per person and may be purchased at

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