Robert G.M. Keating

Retired Judge Robert G.M. Keating, an adjunct professor at Pace University Elisabeth Haub School of Law and a former administrative judge in New York City who was founding dean of the New York State Judicial Institute from 2002 to 2008, has died.

Judge Keating, who also was credited with creating the first community court for low-level and drug offenses, died on July 14 at age 76, according to Fairchild Sons Funeral Home in Garden City, N.Y. The cause of death was complications of a stroke, according to several sources.

“Bob Keating provided Pace University with wise counsel and great leadership for more than a decade,” said Pace University President Marvin Krislov in a statement. “He was a dedicated and innovative prosecutor, a wise and compassionate judge, and a great colleague and invaluable adviser to me and everyone at Pace. We mourn his loss, and our thoughts are with his wife Mary Lou and the rest of his family.”

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said in a statement: “For many years Bob Keating was one of the brightest stars of the state court system. An outstanding judge, judicial administrator and educator, he performed at the highest level at whatever assignment he was asked to take on. He had an enormous influence in so many areas of the justice system and will be greatly missed by all who had the good fortune to work with him.”

Judge Keating received his A.B. from Georgetown University and his law degree from Duke University and was admitted to the New York Bar in 1968, according to Martindale.com. He  began his career as a trial attorney for the Legal Aid Society.

He later joined the Kings County District Attorney’s office, where eventually he assumed the role of Chief Assistant District Attorney. He introduced the first alternative to prison program for drug offenses while in the Brooklyn D.A.’s office. Under Mayor Ed Koch, he was Coordinator of Criminal Justice from 1980 to 1982. After being named administrative judge for the New York City Criminal Court in 1984, Judge Keating created the innovative Midtown Community Court in the early 1990s, according to his official biography on the Pace Law School website. The program has been copied across the United States and abroad. He was named a Court of Claims judge in 1987 and later became the administrative judge for the Supreme Court for Brooklyn and Staten Island, according to his official bio. He left the position of Supervising Supreme Court Judge in Brooklyn in 1996 to become a senior executive at physician practice management company in Manhattan.  He also worked in private practice at a law firm.

Judge Keating served Mayor Michael Bloomberg as vice-chair of the Advisory Committee on the Judiciary, and instituted the Court Health Referral Project, in which defendants received courthouse-based counseling on AIDS, drug abuse, and tuberculosis.

In 2002, then-Chief Judge Judith Kaye and Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman appointed Judge Keating as head of the New York State Judicial Institute, which was the first judicial training and research system for a state court system in the nation. The Institute is a partnership of the New York State Unified Court System, the governor, the legislature and Pace University, and is located on the Pace Law School campus in White Plains, NY. Keating was appointed Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at Pace University effective December 1, 2008 and then as senior advisor to the president. He retired from Pace on June 30.

Retired Court of Appeals Judge Joseph Bellacosa said on Monday in tribute, “Judge Keating was one of the best court administrators I ever had the privilege to appoint to manage the Criminal Courts of New York City in 1985. He was friend who had an impish and quick sense of humor always at the ready.”

Retired Supreme Court Justice Barry Kamins, another friend, said,  “It is a tremendous loss for the legal community. Bob was the first dean of the judicial institute and a great administrative judge within the courts. He was innovative and one of the most progressive leaders in the court system at the time. As an individual he was well-respected by his peers and people are shocked at his loss. He was a vibrant and energetic individual and everyone thought that Bob Keating would live forever.”

Juanita Bing Newton, who succeeded Keating in 2009 as the current dean of the Judicial Institute, said, “he was the first to tackle issues involving arrest to arraignment and some of the steps he put into place greatly moved the court system forward to be able to arraign individuals within the newly mandated 24-hour period. He was on the cutting edge, always a leader and always a supporter and always a friend with a wonderful smile.”

She said members of the institute last saw Judge Keating at Pace Law School’s graduation ceremonies, “When I told the staff, we were all heartbroken,” she said. “That is how we will all remember him with that bow tie.”

Judge Keating’s retirement party at Pace University had been scheduled for today, July 16.

Visitation is set for Thursday, July 19 from 3 to 5 pm and 7 to 9pm at Fairchild Sons Funeral Home. Services are set for Friday, July 20 at 11:15 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Garden City and interment at Woodland Cemetery in Bellport, N.Y. In lieu of flowers and cards, the family requests donations be sent to the Marina Orth Foundation in Washington, D.C., at www.marinaorthfoundation.org.