Judges as Umpires: Subjective Limitations on Objective Decision Making

Lecture Date


Speaker Information

The Honorable Theodore A. McKee was sworn in as a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on June 20, 1994. He is only the fourth African- American to serve on the Third Circuit bench. Judge McKee graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University College of Law in 1975. He received several awards for outstanding academic performance in law school, including induction into the Order of the Coif.

Upon graduation from law school, Theodore McKee began his legal career in Philadelphia at Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen. He left the firm in 1977 to become assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, serving that office until 1980 when he became deputy city solicitor in the administration of then-mayor William Green. There, he headed the enforcement division of the city's law department. In 1983 he accepted a position as general counsel to the Philadelphia Parking Authority, and then ran successfully for the Court of Common Pleas. He served as a judge of the Court of Common Pleas for more than 11 years, including a three-year assignment to the homicide program. Toward the end of his first term, he became the first African-American assigned to the Orphans' Court. In 1994 Judge McKee ran successfully for a second term on the Court of Common Pleas, but was appointed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals by President Clinton shortly after winning retention to the Court of Common Pleas.

A native of Rochester, New York, Theodore McKee earned his undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Cortland, and served as director of minority recruitment and chair o f a newly created Afro-American Studies Program at the State University of New York at Binghamton following graduation.

He married the former Ana Luisa Pujols in 1974. The couple has two daughters. Judge McKee is quite active in the community, and serves on the boards of directors of several nonprofit organizations and institutions, including the Diagnostic and Rehabilitation Center, Fox Chase Cancer Center, and the Advisory Committee of City Year Philadelphia. While a judge of the Court of Common Pleas, Theodore McKee also sen/ed on the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission, chairing the Commission for nearly four years, during which time he also chaired a subcommittee charged with re-examining Pennsylvania's sentencing guidelines. Since joining the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, he has become a member of the Third Circuit Task Force on Equal Treatment in the Courts, and co

Judge McKee is a trustee of Temple University and recently became an adviser to the American Law Institute's Committee on Revising the Model Penal Code. He has traveled to Moscow to address the Council of Russian Judges on "Independence of an Independent Judiciary," and Ghana to work with the Ghanaian judiciary. Although he is not a historian, in 2001, the U.S House of Representatives appointed him to serve as a member of the Advisory Committee to the Congressional Commission to Commemorate the 250th Anniversary of the Birth of James Madison.

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