The Honorable John William Kennedy

Contra Costa County Superior Court, Department 8


The Hon. John William Kennedy is a judge on the Superior Court of Contra Costa County in California. He was elected to the bench on June 22, 2001. He was automatically re-elected in 2010 after running unopposed.

Kennedy earned his bachelor's degree from Georgetown University. He then continued his studies at Georgetown University Law Center, where he completed his J.D. in 1980.

He began his legal career as a law clerk for the Hon. James R. Browning, the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Two years later, he joined the Office of the District Attorney of Contra Costa County as a deputy district attorney. He worked there briefly, quickly leaving to become an assistant U.S. attorney for the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California in 1983. Then, in 1986, Kennedy transferred to the Office of the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California, where he served as an assistant U.S. attorney until his election to the bench.

As a judge, Kennedy has presided over family law and criminal law matters, with a preference for the latter. He has a reputation for being tough on defendants, especially when it comes to handing down sentences in criminal matters.

Kennedy has served on the Board of Directors for Rescue One Foundation. His memberships have included the California Judges Association as well as the Alameda County Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs Association.

Born and raised in Ohio, Kennedy is a fourth-generation attorney. His three siblings are also attorneys.

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