Judge M. Margaret McKeown of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is to receive the American Bar Association’s prestigious John Marshall Award Friday, Aug. 9, during the ABA’s annual meeting in San Francisco.
The award, named for the famed U.S. chief justice, recognizes those who are dedicated to “extraordinary improvements” in the administration of justice in the areas of judicial independence, justice system reform, or public awareness of the justice system. Past recipients include retired Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge McKeown is the first Ninth Circuit judge to receive the award.
McKeown is recognized for her work on judicial ethics, gender issues, and international rule of law. Appointed to the Court of Appeals in 1998, she is the former president of the Federal Judges Association.
“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 a nominating letter submitted by Llewelyn G. Pritchard of the Seattle-area firm of Helsell Fetterman.
“I can’t think of a more deserving person to receive this award than Judge McKeown,” said Sidney R. Thomas, chief judge of the Ninth Circuit. “She exemplifies its purpose: a dedication to the pursuit of fair and equal justice, and the willingness to devote her energy and valuable time to bringing these issues to the forefront and moving them forward. She’s making a tremendous impact in so many spheres both here in the U.S. and around the world.”
McKeown has been a Judiciary leader in addressing workplace harassment issues. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. appointed her to the Federal Judiciary Workplace Conduct Working Group. She also is chair of the Ninth Circuit Ad Hoc Committee on Workplace Relations.
She chairs the ABA Rule of Law Initiative, which helps about 50 nations advance justice reforms, including greater transparency and accountability in the judiciary. She is a managerial trustee with the International Association of Women Judges.
Born in Casper, Wyoming, Judge McKeown earned her B.A. from the University of Wyoming and her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. Before her appointment to the bench, she engaged in private practice for more than two decades in Seattle and Washington, D.C., including as the first woman partner with Perkins Coie.

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