As Of Counsel at Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A., John E. Keefe, Sr., former Presiding Judge of the Appellate Division, is a highly sought after mediator, providing mediation, arbitration and consultation and discovery master services. Appointed to the bench in 1977, Judge Keefe’s judicial career spanned nearly 25 years. He retired in 2001 as a Presiding Judge of the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court where he served for 13 years. Prior to joining Wilentz in 2021, Judge Keefe served as Of Counsel to Keefe Law Firm.
Shortly after his judicial appointment, Judge Keefe was designated to supervise and administer a pilot project involving statewide asbestos litigation. As a result of that designation, he was responsible for the appointment of the first full-time Special Master in New Jersey. In 1984, he was appointed to the position of Presiding Judge of the General Equity Part, and served in that capacity and as Asbestos judge until he was appointed to the Appellate Division in July 1988. During his tenure in the Superior Court, Judge Keefe also served on several committees and chaired the Committee on Model Civil Charges and Complex Case Management.
In addition to his judicial service, Judge Keefe has been a frequent lecturer at the New Jersey Bar Association Institute for Continuing Legal Education and the Trial Attorneys of New Jersey. He received the Institute for Continuing Legal Education’s Distinguished Service Award, and was a recipient of the James McLaughlin Professionalism Award from the Civil Trial Bar Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association. In 2005, he received the David L. Golden Lifetime Achievement Award from the Trial Attorneys of New Jersey. In May 2019, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by The New Jersey Law Journal, and, in 2020, Judge Keefe was honored by the New Jersey State Bar Foundation as a Medal of Honor recipient. Judge Keefe has been selected for inclusion in New Jersey Super Lawyers lists for 2005-2015.
Judge Keefe served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Seton Hall University School of Law for 15 years where he taught Products Liability. He is a 25 Year Life Member of the American Law Institute and participated in its Consultive Group during the formation of the Restatement (Third) of Torts: Product Liability. Along with Hon. William A. Drier and Eric D. Katz, Judge Keefe is an author of New Jersey Products Liability & Toxic Tort Law published by Gann Law Books. He was also a participant in the Consultive Group during the formulation of the Restatement of the Law of Liability Insurance.
Judge Keefe graduated from Rutgers University in 1962 and from Rutgers University School of Law, Newark, in 1965.