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

  • Amherst College (B.A. 1969)

Memberships & Affiliations

  • Litigation Counsel of America, Fellow Emeritus

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

  • ABA Forum on Communications Law (past-Chair; past-Governing Board; past-Diversity Chair)

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

  • Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition (past-President and Board of Directors)

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

  • Colorado Supreme Court Committee on Pattern Civil Jury Instructions (1994-2013)

Honors & Distinctions

  • Recognized by Chambers USA as a "Senior Statesman" in First Amendment Litigation nationwide

  • Recognized by The Best Lawyers in America as a top First Amendment, First Amendment Litigation, and Media lawyer

  • Recognized by Colorado Super Lawyers in Civil Rights

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

  • Recognized as a Lawyer of the Year 2013 by Law Week Colorado

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

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 has been 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

Williams v. The MLB Network, Inc. (N.J. Super. 2016). Tom, Chad Bowman, and Lizzie Seidlin-Bernstein defended Gawker Media, LLC in a defamation action by former Major League Baseball pitcher Mitch Williams and prevailed on a motion for summary judgment on grounds of failure to show actual malice.

Brokers’ Choice of America, Inc. v. NBC Universal, Inc., 138 F. Supp. 3d 1191 (D. Colo. 2015). Tom and his LSKS colleagues prevailed on a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ defamation claim on the ground of substantial truth.

Delevin v. Holteen (D. Ariz. 2015). Tom and Steve Zansberg successfully defended The Durango Herald and its former arts and entertainment editor arising from an email the editor sent to the publicist of a religious-oriented musical group. The court held that the email did not constitute an intentional infliction of emotional distress, nor did it give rise to the other claims the musical group members had pleaded under state law.

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.

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 $26.5 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