California Bar Journal
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from its present 71-72 percent. "If you do that, everything else follows and your ranking goes up," he said.

Once he has a semester under his belt, Keane hopes to return to teaching, which he describes as better than therapy. Just as he continued to try cases, including about seven capital cases, while an administrator in the public defender's office, he wants to continue to teach while serving as dean. "It's important for credibility," he said. "I don't want to get away from the day-to-day nuts and bolts and I can bring a lot in terms of practical experience."

Keane, 55, became a familiar presence on both television and radio during the O.J. Simpson trial, when he offered daily legal analysis in the Bay Area as well as national commentary. He appeared on such programs as "Nightline," the "CBS Evening News" and CNN, providing insights into the complicated manuevers of the case.

After the Simpson trial, he hosted a weekly program on KPIX radio in San Francisco for four years called "Keane on the Law."

Long before that, he made his mark as the author of a measure - later overturned - banning ownership of Saturday Night Specials in San Francisco and for his efforts to reform the Commission on Judicial Performance.

In 1982, he wrote the San Francisco Handgun Control Ordinance. Through outright banning of Saturday Night Specials, the ordinance skirted a law prohibiting local regulation of weapons. Although ultimately struck down by the Court of Appeal, the ordinance provided then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein an anti-gun platform which she has taken to the U.S. Senate.

The state's judicial disciplinary system also attracted Keane's attention about a dozen years ago. He became convinced the California Judges Association, which he says "had taken over the Commission on Judicial Performance in a coup d'etat," watered down the ethics canons governing the state's judges. "They took the ABA canons, which were very straightforward, and changed the ‘shalls' to ‘shoulds,'" Keane said.

He also was bothered by the commission's intense secrecy over its proceedings. "That there was a lack of public scrutiny of something of such vital importance as the conduct of judges was alien to the democratic process," Keane said.

In 1994, CJP cleared former California Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas of any wrongdoing after investigating charges that he took frequent and prolonged trips away from the Supreme Court, including expensive overseas trips paid for by insurance groups with petitions before the court.

That so outraged Keane that he wrote Proposition 190, a constitutional amendment overhauling the commission and eliminating its judicial majority. The reform measure, approved by 80 percent of the electorate, resulted in new ethics rules and made public some of the commission's proceedings.

"Prop 190 was a ‘good government' measure," Keane said. "I look at that as my most satisfying contribution to the legal system in California."

Keane was elected president of the Bar Association of San Francisco in 1988 and recalls shocking his audience when he predicted the end of the State Bar. "I remember seeing (former bar executive director) Herb Rosenthal's jaw bounce," Keane said. "Everyone said, ‘That'll never happen.' Nine years later, it self-destructed."

Keane went on to become the only anti-bar candidate ever elected to the board of governors, where he constantly tweaked the bar for what he calls its "schizo role" as a regulatory body and a trade association.

When a commission was appointed to study the bar's future, Keane was excluded and asked then-Assembly Speaker Willie Brown to appoint him. Getting the group to examine the bar's structure was "like getting the College of Cardinals to consider women as priests," he said.

Keane continued his campaign with former state Sen. Quentin Kopp, who forced the 1996 plebiscite which sought to dismantle the mandatory bar. Had the proposal offered an alternative, it would have been approved overwhelmingly, he believes.

Last year's unsuccessful efforts to redesign the bar amounted to a missed opportunity, Keane said, and he cautioned his former colleagues to respond to their critics. If the bar remains mandatory, he believes the board must engage in serious oversight and meet difficult issues head-on.

"If the institutional leaders believe they can go back to business as usual, they're naive and they do a disservice to the legal profession and the public," Keane said. "They're setting themselves up for a second and bigger fall."