Keeton, Robert E. 1919–2007

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Keeton, Robert E. 1919–2007

(Robert Ernest Keeton)


See index for CA sketch: Born December 16, 1919, in Clarksville, TX; died of complications from a pulmonary embolism, July 2, 2007, in Cambridge, MA. Lawyer, judge, educator, and author. Keeton began his career in Texas, where he practiced law and taught at Southern Methodist University before joining the faculty at Harvard University in the early 1950s. He remained at Harvard until 1979, when he was appointed a federal judge for the District of Massachusetts. He retired from the bench in 2006, when he was about eighty-five years old. Keeton's specialty was insurance law, and he is often credited with research that led to the passage of laws mandating no-fault automobile insurance in the commonwealth of Massachusetts in the 1960s, laws which served as benchmarks for insurance law throughout the United States. His other interests included the more general and wide-ranging category of tort law, which covers most crimes, intentional or otherwise, that do not involve a breach of contract. Keeton also taught future trial lawyers how to conduct themselves in the courtroom, and he was instrumental in enticing well-known lawyers into his classrooms to share their expert advice on courtroom behavior. Keeton received the Clarence Arthur Kulp Memorial Award from the American Risk and Insurance Association for his 1965 book Basic Protection for the Traffic Victim: A Blueprint for Reforming Automobile Insurance, the William B. Jones Award of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, the Samuel E. Gates Litigation Award of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and other similar honors. His books, more than twenty in all, include an coedited work titled Crisis in Car Insurance (1968), Venturing to Do Justice: Processes and Issues of Private Law Reform (1969), and Keeton on Judging in the American Legal System (1999). He also coauthored Insurance Law: A Guide to Fundamental Principles, Legal Doctrines, and Commercial Practices (1988).



Los Angeles Times, August 6, 2007, p. B9.

New York Times, August 4, 2007, p. B10.