Marilyn Hall Patel
|Marilyn Hall Patel|
|Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California|
June 30, 1980 – September 30, 2012
|Appointed by||Jimmy Carter|
|Preceded by||Lloyd Hudson Burke|
|Succeeded by||Edward J. Davila|
Amsterdam, New York
|Spouse(s)||Magan C. Patel|
|Alma mater||Wheaton College (B.A.)
Fordham University (J.D.)
Marilyn Hall Patel (born 1938) is a retired federal judge who presided in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. She was Chief District Judge of that jurisdiction from 1997 until 2004, and heard several notable cases during that time.
From 1963 until 1967 she worked as an attorney in private practice in New York City. From 1967 until 1971 she was general counsel for the US Immigration and Naturalization Service in San Francisco. She then returned to private practice in San Francisco (during which time she was counsel for the National Organization for Women) before becoming adjunct professor of law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, where she remained until 1976. In 1976 she was appointed to the bench of the Municipal Court for the Oakland-Piedmont Judicial District, a position she held until 1980.
On May 9, 1980, President Jimmy Carter nominated Patel to fill the seat vacated by Lloyd Hudson Burke on the US District Court for Northern California. She was confirmed by the United States Senate in June of that year. She was the Chief District Judge for the Northern District from 1997 until 2004. Her replacement as Chief District Judge was Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who has also retired from the federal bench.
Notable cases 
||This section may contain original research. (July 2012)|
- Korematsu v. United States — Patel heard a petition for a writ of coram nobis filed by attorneys Peter Irons and Dale Minami asking the judge to vacate the conviction in the 40-year old case of Korematsu v. United States. Fred Korematsu, a Japanese American, had been convicted of failing to comply with government orders to leave his home during World War II in San Leandro, California and enter an internment camp. Finding that the United States government had deliberately misled the United States Supreme Court in securing its affirmance of the conviction, on November 10, 1983, Patel formally vacated the conviction, saying, "[Korematsu] stands as a caution that in times of distress the shield of military necessity and national security must not be used to protect governmental actions from close scrutiny and accountability".
- A & M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc., commonly known as RIAA v. Napster — Patel ruled that Napster was not an ISP in the definition specified by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and thus was not entitled to protection under that law's "safe harbor" provision. Patel's injunction and final ruling (largely upheld on appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit) meant that Napster was responsible for policing its internet file sharing network for materials that violate record companies' copyrights.
- Bernstein v. US Department of State — Daniel J. Bernstein, a college computer science professor, sued the U.S. Government alleging that the government's restrictions on the export of "dual use" cryptographic technology violated his rights under the First Amendment. Patel supported the plaintiff's argument that computer source code was indeed protected speech, and that the blanket requirements imposed by the AECA and ITAR regulations, (which required licences for "export", which Bernstein contended essentially amounted to "publication", of cryptographic algorithms or technologies) amounted to an impermissible prior restraint of Bernstein's Free Speech rights under the First Amendment. Patel's decision was affirmed on appeal to the Ninth Circuit.
- National Federation of the Blind v. Target Corporation — National Federation of the Blind sued Target Corporation, alleging that its electronic commerce website does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Patel ruled that a retailer can be sued if its website is inaccessible to the blind.
Other notable cases 
||This section may contain original research. (July 2012)|
In a 1987 suit brought against the Fire Department of San Francisco (in which Patel harshly criticized the department), she issued a consent decree that enforced equal access to employment and advancement at the SFFD. In addition to clarifying the department's responsibilities with regard to the race of applicants, the decree ensured access for women to front-line firefighter roles.
In a 1999 ruling, Patel found that the layout of Macy's department stores violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, forcing the chain to significantly widen the aisles between merchandise. Many other retailers in other jurisdictions followed suit.
In 2003 she overturned the double murder conviction of Foster City, California native Glen William "Buddy" Nickerson. Nickerson had spent nineteen years on death row at San Quentin State Prison before new witnesses and evidence of police misconduct came to light. Ruling, Patel said it was "more probable than not" that Nickerson was innocent.
Patel dismissed a 2005 suit brought by San Franciscan Wayne Ritchie against the US Government in which he alleged he had been harmed by the covert administration of LSD as part of the MKULTRA program.
Patel determined that California's method of execution by lethal cyanide gas violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishments" after privately viewing a recording of the execution of Robert Alton Harris. Her colleague, Judge Jeremy Fogel, has considered the constitutionality of California's lethal-injection protocol in a few cases, most notably Morales v. Tilton.
Patel's decisions in 2008 included one for the plaintiffs in Okinawa Dugong v. Gates/Okinawa Dugong v. Rumsfeld, in which an environmental group sought to prevent the construction of a military runway on the island of Okinawa, citing the hazard this may pose to the okinawa dugong, a relative of the manatee and an endangered marine mammal.
In 2007 and 2008, Patel reviewed the standards employed by the Oakland Police Department for public strip and body cavity searches. Patel ruled that the O.P.D.'s policy permitting such searches in cases of reasonable suspicion was unconstitutionally low, permitting future searches only where there is probable cause—the same standard required to arrest suspects.
- 584 F.Supp. 1406 (N.D. Cal. 1984)
- 114 F.Supp.2d 896 (N.D. Cal. 2000)
- 922 F.Supp. 1426; 945 F.Supp. 1279 (N.D. Cal.)
- Judge amends Oakland police strip-search policy – Inside Bay Area