“I began at the Catholic University School of law with no intention of ever becoming an attorney; I wanted to be a more knowledgeable Supreme Court reporter for a newspaper. But there is a grain of truth in the field of clichés – studying the law teaches you how to think. The professors and the Catholic University law school community opened my eyes and my mind and led me down a different career path from the one I expected to travel. As a reporter, you watch other people do things and describe their achievements – or failures – for readers. After learning about the power of the law, I wanted to be the one “doing.” The strong tradition of service, deeply imbedded at Catholic University, influenced my legal career. Although good grades, a career in journalism, and a spot on the law review gave me lucrative opportunities at major law firms, what little time I spent in private practice was financially rewarding but hardly spiritually fulfilling. I entered public service as a prosecutor in 1989 in New York City and never looked back. When I had the great fortune to be appointed to the bench in 1999, I knew I had made all the right choices. Thanks to my Catholic University law school education, I’ve had the opportunity to be the one “doing.” And I wouldn’t have traded a minute of it.”
Diane Kiesel received her J.D. from the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law in 1985, her Master’s Degree in Public Affairs Journalism from the American University in 1978, and her undergraduate degree in Communications and English from Douglass College, which was then the women’s division of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., in 1975. In 1999, she was appointed to the New York City Criminal Court and in 2004 elevated to Acting Supreme Court Justice, a position she continues to hold.
It was a long and winding road to the bench for Judge Kiesel. Between graduating from college and attending law school, Judge Kiesel was a reporter for several newspapers and magazines. While living in Washington, D.C., she was a correspondent for the San Diego Union and Tribune where she covered Congress, several government agencies, and the U.S. Supreme Court. It was her interest in legal writing that led her to attend law school. While in law school, which she attended in the evening, she was the Washington correspondent for the American Bar Association Journal.
Since her graduation from Catholic, Judge Kiesel worked as a law clerk to two United States District Court judges in Baltimore, as an associate at the Wall Street law firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel, and as an assistant district attorney in the Office of the New York County District Attorney, who at the time was the legendary Robert M. Morgenthau. In her 10 years as an assistant district attorney, she prosecuted sex crimes, homicides, major felonies, and police corruption. At the time she was appointed to the bench she was the deputy chief of the D.A.’s Child Abuse Unit.
For 15 years on the bench, Judge Kiesel sat in New York’s first Integrated Domestic Violence Court in Bronx County where she presided over criminal, family, and matrimonial cases involving allegations of domestic violence. Since January 2018, Judge Kiesel has presided in a felony trial court in Manhattan.
In addition, Judge Kiesel has been an adjunct professor of law at New York Law School since 1992 where she has taught legal writing and a course in domestic violence law.
Finally, Judge Kiesel has been unable to leave writing behind her. She is the author of three books, two editions of the law school text, Domestic Violence and the Law, the latest edition having been published in 2017 by Carolina Academic Press, and She Can Bring Us Home: Dr. Dorothy Boulding Ferebee, Civil Rights Pioneer, published in 2015 by the Potomac Books imprint of the University of Nebraska Press.
She is at work on a new book, The Trials of Charlie Chaplin: How the Federal Government and One Woman Drove the Little Tramp from the United States, to be published in 2023 by the University of Michigan Press. She also writes the occasional review for Washington Independent Review of Books.