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Longtime appellate clerk, Steve Kelly, dies at 64

Stephen (Steve) Monaghan Kelly, the clerk/administrator for the Fourth District Court of Appeal in San Diego, died of natural causes earlier this week. He was 64.

He was the longest-serving clerk in the district’s history, having held the position for 25 years.

“The Fourth District Court of Appeal is devastated by the sudden passing of our long-time Clerk Administrator Stephen Kelly," said Administrative Presiding Justice Judith McConnell. "Steve embodied the highest standards of public service and access to justice and always motivated all of us to remember our mission was service to the community, no matter how challenging the case or the person -- from the highest paid attorney to a homeless person on the street, all were treated by Steve with respect and dignity. He will be sorely missed.”

Kelly served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy in Yokosuka, Japan, during the Vietnam War and was honorably discharged from the Navy. He graduated from UCLA in 1970 with a degree in psychology and business.

From 1971-73, he was assistant director of a drug rehabilitation center for sailors in San Diego.

Kelly joined San Diego Superior Court in the accounting office and later served as a courtroom clerk from 1973-1978. He joined the appellate court in San Diego as a deputy clerk from 1978-1982 and then chief deputy clerk from 1982-1987.

Kelly was appointed clerk/administrator of the Fourth District in 1987 and was responsible for the court’s operations in San Diego, Riverside and Santa Ana.

In 2003, he was recognized with a Ralph N. Kleps Award for Improvement in the Administration of the Courts for his court’s work on a manual for "Step by Step Civil Appellate Practices and Procedures for the Self-Represented."

Kelly also oversaw numerous court programs, including a Volunteer Attorney Mediator Civil Settlement Program, Court Speakers Program and an Extern Program.

In 2010, he was recognized with the San Diego County Bar Association’s Service to the Legal Profession Award, presented to an individual demonstrating outstanding service to the administration of justice and/or the needs of the profession.

Kelly also served as an advisory member of the Judicial Council of California (1993-94), the Judicial Council’s Court Executives Advisory Committee (1999-2000 and 2007-10), Appellate Advisory Committee (2005-08), and its Advisory Committee on Financial Accountability and Efficiency for the Judicial Branch (2011-present).

He was a member and past president of the California Appellate Court Clerks Association and a member of the National Conference of Appellate Court Clerks.

Kelly is survived by his brother, attorney Kevin Kelly, two nieces and a cousin.

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