A lawyer’s adventures in bad judgment

Contempt of Court
By MARY ANN SORRENTINO  |  December 21, 2009
People who know Keven McKenna know he is not a stupid man. Whether or not the Providence attorney, ex-state representative, and Harold Stassen of Providence mayoral races uses good judgment is another question.

Thrice married, McKenna calls himself “pro-family.” He has denied that he was “divorced” from his first wife, Ann B. Morgan. And he is right: he sought (and received) a rarely used District of Columbia “civil annulment.”

McKenna later married Marlene Marcello who ran for state Treasurer, losing to Republican Nancy Meyer. Marcello’s often abrasive style and her husband’s antagonistic manner did not help her candidacy. Keven McKenna’s hometown newspaper, The Westerly Sun, described in a November 1992 opinion piece the native son’s election night tirade outside his wife’s campaign suite at the Providence Biltmore Hotel. As her pounding at the polls became obvious, McKenna allegedly said to members of the press, “Get the fuck out of here before I stone you. I don’t want any sluts from the media here.”

Nice family values talk.

The couple eventually divorced (no civil annulments in Rhode Island, I guess) and Marlene Marcello McKenna faded into political oblivion, fighting serious illness. In 2001, she admitted to stealing $186,200 from clients and pleaded guilty to federal mail fraud.

Keven McKenna, meanwhile, was a serial loser in runs for mayor of Providence. He has also made a career of writing tomes on what he sees as the ignorance and unconstitutional behavior of the Rhode Island judiciary. All this while he practices law daily before the same benches he routinely berates, insults, and dismisses publicly.

McKenna now faces the possibility of jail time for charges of contempt of court. He has refused to pay an $11,000 judgment against him. The fine was imposed by Chief Judge George E. Healy, Jr. of the Workers Compensation Court, who ordered McKenna to pay $400 per week to a former paralegal who accused him of assault.

“They are aiding and abetting a crook,” McKenna said, adding, “I am not paying a crook.”

McKenna also says he is “not in contempt of court. The court is in contempt of court.”

At least he didn’t call the judge a “slut.”

McKenna avoided yuletide jail time and leaving his bride of two months, Sheila A. Bentley (formerly Cianci and once First Lady of Providence) alone for the holidays when state Supreme Court Justice Francis X. Flaherty — full of holiday cheer — granted him a stay of an order of incarceration previously issued by Judge Healy.

Where McKenna will be spending Valentine’s Day is still up for grabs since his self-defeating judgment calls could fill more space than my editor will grant. Suffice to say his innate intelligence is too often (and tragically) held hostage by his dominant “loose cannon” gene.

In the winter of his life, McKenna might want to consider the wisdom of more positively focusing all that energy — for his benefit and for the benefit of those around him. A mind is (still) a terrible thing to waste.
Related: Split atop the RI Tea Party, 2009 had some redeeming qualities - really, Ready to rumble, More more >
  Topics: This Just In , Elections and Voting, Providence Biltmore Hotel, Politics,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   FERRARO, A PHOTO, AND A LEGACY  |  March 30, 2011
    Geraldine Ferraro's photograph stands proudly in a silver frame, inscribed to my daughter with the words, "You are my hero."
  •   TWO MURDERS AND AN UNHEEDED CALL  |  December 29, 2010
    When Rhode Islanders mention former Rhode Island Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Fay, they often focus on the scandal that forced him to resign from the bench.
    Angel Taveras may soon be Providence’s first Latino mayor. But his victory in the recent Democratic primary is much more than a triumph of the city’s growing Hispanic population.
    Recently OB-GYN Associates, a respected women's health care practice with offices in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, admitted to Rhode Island Department of Health officials that it had implanted in patients birth control intrauterine devices (IUDs) apparently manufactured in Canada and not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
    Low-numbered plates may be Valhalla for Rhode Island’s vainglorious. But they are hard to come by. So for the average driver looking for attention, “vanity” and “special category” plates are the way to go.

 See all articles by: MARY ANN SORRENTINO