• Robert Sturm College of Law, University of Denver (J.D. 1972)

  • Amherst College (B.A. 1969)

Memberships & Affiliations

  • Colorado Bar Association (past-Governing Board)
  • Denver Bar Association

  • American Bar Association (past-Governing Board; past-Diversity Chair)

  • ABA Forum on Communications Law (past-Chair)

  • Media Law Resource Center, Defense Counsel Section (past-President)

  • Colorado Freedom of Information Council (President Emeritus and Board Chairman)

  • Sedona Conference Working Group on Protective Orders, Confidentiality and Public Access (2004-07)

  • Colorado Supreme Court Committee on Pattern Civil Jury Instructions

Honors & Distinctions

  • Recognized by Chambers USA as one of the top First Amendment litigators in the United States

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers as one of the preeminent First Amendment lawyers in Colorado

  • Recognized as a Lawyer of the Year by Law Week Colorado

  • Denver Bar Association “Liberty Bell” Award (2000)

  • Denver Business Journal’s Best of the Bar in Communications Law (2006)

Selected Publications

  • How Far Can You Go in Your Cross of the Plaintiff, Communications Lawyer (Summer 2009)

  • The Libel Defendant’s Dilemma: Unpicking the Trial Theme, Communications Lawyer (Spring 2006)

  • For Baby Boomers, An Icon of Media Law (review of Floyd Abrams’ Speaking Freely), Communications Lawyer (Spring 2005)

  • Practice Pointers for New (and Not-So-New) Media Lawyers, Communications Lawyer (Fall 2005)

  • Libel by Implication, Communications Lawyer (Spring 2002)

Thomas B. Kelley

Tom has defended the rights and privileges of journalists and news organizations for more than 35 years. He has litigated libel, invasion of privacy, access, and newsgathering claims in ten states, and regularly represents news organizations on appeals before state and federal courts. Tom has represented media defendants in 10 jury trials, winning three defense verdicts, four directed verdicts for the defense, two judgments as a matter of law, and one hung jury.

Tom’s regular clients include national and regional newspapers, television networks, television station owners, magazine publishers, cable news networks, and internet content providers. He has represented national media in attempts to protect the public’s right to access records and proceedings in an array of high-profile cases, including the Oklahoma City Bombing trials, Kobe Bryant rape prosecution, and JonBenét Ramsey murder investigation.

Tom is described by Chambers USA as “one of the best trial lawyers in the country” and “a go-to guy in libel defense and media litigation in Colorado and nationally. His ease in the courtroom and excellent judgment is singled out by clients.”

Before joining LSKS, Tom was a partner in the Denver office of Faegre & Benson, where he chaired the firm’s media practice.

Notable Matters

Spacecon Specialty Contractors, LLP v. Bensinger, 713 F.3d 1028 (10th Cir. 2013). Tom and Steve Zansberg successfully defended a filmmaker on appeal after the plaintiff, a drywall contractor, challenged the district court’s award of summary judgment in a libel action arising from a documentary on the employment of migrant laborers. The court held that the film involved a matter of public concern and that the plaintiff had not offered sufficient proof of actual malice as required under Colorado law.

Brokers’ Choice v. NBC Universal, Inc., 2011 WL 97236 (D. Colo. 2011). Tom and Gayle Sproul successfully defended NBC against libel, intrusion, trespass, fraud, and civil rights claims arising from an undercover investigative report broadcast on Dateline NBC. The court dismissed the claims because, among other things, plaintiffs could not establish that NBC’s characterization of their comments or its omission of certain hidden camera footage made the broadcast false.

Shoen v. Turner Broadcasting, 39 Media L. Rptr. 1085 (Colo. Dist. Ct. 2010). Tom and Steve Zansberg successfully defended a libel action against the producers of a documentary that aired on the truTV cable network. The court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, ruling that the documentary did not convey a defamatory meaning because it accurately depicted two competing theories of a murder.

Archey v. Nelson (Nev. Dist. Ct. 2010). Tom and Steve Zansberg successfully defended a newspaper in a libel case in which the trial court granted a special motion to dismiss under the Nevada anti-SLAPP statute, which resulted in dismissal of the action and entitled the defendants to recover attorneys’ fees. This case was the first time the Nevada anti-SLAPP law has been applied to the media.

Diversified Management, Inc. v. Denver Post, Inc., 653 P.2d 1103 (Colo. 1982). Tom represented the newspaper in this seminal Colorado court case, which established the rule that the actual malice standard applies to all libel actions arising in the state that involve matters of public concern.

Pring v. Penthouse International, Inc., 695 F.2d 438 (10th Cir. 1982). Tom successfully represented the defendants in this appeal, which reversed a $14.5 million jury verdict and recognized First Amendment protection for satire.

  • Thomas B. Kelley
  • Partner
  • 1888 Sherman Street
    Suite 370
    Denver, CO 80203

Bar & Court Admissions

  • Colorado

  • U.S. Supreme Court

  • U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits

  • U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado