In Honor of a Patriot

“You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man’s freedom.” Clarence Darrow

Sanford Keller
May 4, 1941-April 12, 2012
Palo Alto, California
Submitted by Michael and Kimberly Osborne

Sanford “Sandy” Keller, the son of Jewish immigrants, who became a lawyer for the rights of the poor and powerless, passed away on April 14th.

Keller devoted his life to helping prisoners and other clients who could not pay him. His toughest fight lasted 12 years and took him from the parole board to regulatory panels and all the way to the federal courts. It ended on Dec. 4, 1989, when the federal court of appeals overturned the conviction of Mr. Keller’s client Francisco Perez, who had been wrongfully convicted in 1977 on charges of armed-robbery.

Sanford Isaac Keller was born on May 4, 1941, in Palo Alto. He attended Cubberley High School in Palo Alto, and graduated from USC and Santa Clara Law School.

In 1970, he went to work for a federally financed legal services agency in a basement storefront in downtown San Francisco. Three years later, he joined the Legal Aid Society, to represent indigent clients in the Bay Area. He first worked on criminal cases, and then on appeals for the society. In 1983, Mr. Keller started a private practice, mainly taking clients who could not afford to pay him much, if anything. He retired from full time law practice in 2001.

Mr. Keller is survived, in addition to his wife, by their daughter, Kimberly Osborne; two sons, Kyle of Seattle, Wash., and Matthew of New York City, N.Y.; a sister, Caroline Lehman of San Jose, Calif.; and a granddaughter.