Napa County logoThe Napa County Board of Supervisors announced today the appointment of Kris Keeley as the county’s new Public Defender, effective June 22, 2024. Keeley succeeds Ronald Abernathy, who is retiring after a distinguished tenure with the county.

Keeley brings an impressive 25-year career at the Napa Public Defender’s Office to her new role. She has represented hundreds of clients and litigated thousands of cases, ranging from minor traffic violations to serious felonies, including murder. Keeley has served as Assistant Public Defender since 2020. She began her career as a summer law clerk in 1997 and has advanced through the ranks, holding key positions including Deputy Public Defender and Chief Deputy Public Defender. 

“Twenty-seven years ago, I walked into the Napa Public Defender’s Office to volunteer,” Keeley said. “I met the most dedicated, hardworking, passionate staff who did challenging work that mattered. That day I was inspired, and to this day, I continue to be inspired by the talented staff I work with. Public defenders vigorously fight for the rights of their clients, ensuring the rights of all citizens are protected. What we do matters. We bring a voice to the voiceless and ensure that the criminal justice system is honest and fair for everyone. It is my honor to work at the Napa Public Defender’s Office, and it is an incredible honor to be selected to lead the office into the future.” 

Joelle Gallagher, Chair of the Napa County Board of Supervisors, expressed confidence in Keeley’s capabilities, stating, “Kris has demonstrated exceptional dedication and skill throughout her career. Her experience, leadership and commitment to justice make her the ideal person to lead the Napa Public Defender’s Office.” 

Keeley believes every client is entitled to a vigorous defense and an advocate who will empathetically tell their story. She is experienced in handling all levels of cases and is knowledgeable in all aspects of office management, from hiring and training to budget oversight. Keeley is committed to promoting equal justice under the law for everyone. 

The Public Defender’s Office provides legal representation for adults and juveniles charged with criminal offenses who are unable to afford counsel. Additionally, the office staffs juvenile and adult drug courts and represents individuals subject to involuntary mental health commitment petitions, probate conservatees and patients at Napa State Hospital who require medical treatment. 

Keeley holds a B.A. in Theoretical Mathematics from Sonoma State University and a Juris Doctor from UC San Francisco Law School. A lifelong Napa County resident, she resides in Napa with her husband.