Alva Keyes was a U.S. District Judge in Los Angeles. He came from a background as a civil rights attorney. In the 1970's he sued the LAPD over the chokehold deaths of an inordinate number of African-American men. Following this suit, the chokehold was barred by LAPD. In 1978 Keyes was then appointed to the federal bench by President Jimmy Carter. He was a large, imposing man with a deep voice who ran a strict courtroom. Despite Keye's background, Harry Bosch believed that he was fundamentally a fair judge.
In 1993, he presided over the wrongful death lawsuit brought by Deborah Church against LAPD detective Harry Bosch. In one key argument, he ruled that information about a newly discovered body (the Concrete Blonde) could be admitted in this trial, thus raising doubts about the guilt of Norman Church. He admonished plaintiff's attorney Honey Chandler several times for prejudicial statements. During closing arguments she made one statement that angered Keys so greatly that he told her, in front of the jury, that he would be filing a contempt of court complaint against her.