The S.F. attorney behind the defense of accused corporate bad boys John Keker, a combative ex-Marine with a steel-trap intellect wrapped in a velvet baritone, is lionized by his peers as one of the top trial lawyers in the country. Keker & Van Nest, his San Francisco firm, is a magnet for VIPs in trouble with the law, even though it also does civil cases and a hefty share of pro bono work.
Yet in defending Silicon Valley investment banker Frank Quattrone last month, Keker may have made a rare fumble: He put his client on the stand, seemingly poorly prepared for a withering cross-examination that made Quattrone look unduly coy with facts....Now Keker, 59, who successfully prosecuted Oliver North in the Iran- Contra scandal, is preparing for an even-tougher battle: defending Andrew Fastow, former chief financial officer of Enron Corp., the most despised company in America, the one whose flame-out sparked a scorched-earth trail of destitute shareholders and pensioners and ignited the current inferno of corporate scandals....
Keker, who declined to be interviewed for this article, may point the finger the other way in defending Fastow.
"Enron hired Andy to arrange off-balance-sheet financing," Keker said in one of his few public comments on the case. "Enron's board of directors, its CEO and its chairman directed and praised his work. Accountants and lawyers reviewed and approved his work."
Even the many lawyers who admire him admit Keker clearly has his work cut out for him.
Lehane, Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign press secretary, is helping Gleick pro bono with communications issues. Gleick is represented by John Keker, a prominent San Francisco-based white colar criminal defense attorney.