|Chair of the United States Sentencing Commission|
December 2018 – August 5, 2022
|Preceded by||William H. Pryor Jr.|
|Succeeded by||Carlton W. Reeves|
|Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California|
|Assumed office |
December 31, 2011
|Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California|
November 12, 1997 – December 31, 2011
|Appointed by||Bill Clinton|
|Preceded by||D. Lowell Jensen|
|Succeeded by||William Orrick III|
Charles Roberts Breyer
November 3, 1941
San Francisco, California, U.S.
|Relatives||Stephen Breyer (brother)|
|Education||Harvard University (AB)|
University of California, Berkeley (JD)
Charles Roberts Breyer (born November 3, 1941) is an American attorney and jurist serving as a Senior United States district judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Breyer served as chairman of the United States Sentencing Commission from 2018 to 2022.
Early life and career
Breyer was born in San Francisco, California. He is the younger brother of Stephen Breyer, who served as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1994 to 2022. Breyer and his older brother Stephen were active in the Boy Scouts of America and achieved the Eagle Scout rank.
Breyer attended Lowell High School. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard College in 1963 and a Juris Doctor from the University of California, Berkeley in 1966. He was a law clerk to Judge Oliver Carter of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California from 1966 to 1967. He was a Counsel, Legal Aid Society of San Francisco in 1967, and was then an assistant district attorney for the City & County of San Francisco, California, from 1967 to 1973.
Breyer was an assistant special prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force from 1973 to 1974, and then entered private practice in San Francisco from 1974 to 1997, interrupted by a brief stint as chief assistant district attorney of the City and County of San Francisco in 1979.
Federal judicial service
On July 24, 1997, Breyer was nominated by President Bill Clinton to a seat on the United States District Court for the Northern District of California vacated by D. Lowell Jensen. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on November 8, 1997, and received his commission on November 12, 1997. He took senior status on December 31, 2011. He served as a Member of the United States Judicial Conference from 2006 to 2010. He has served as a Member of the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation since 2011. He served as Vice Chair of the United States Sentencing Commission from 2013 to 2016 and as a Member of the same commission since 2017.
Breyer presided over the Ed Rosenthal trial in 2007, in Rosenthal's federal prosecution for distribution of marijuana for medical use. This case was controversial because Breyer sentenced Rosenthal, who faced a possible sentence of one hundred years for growing marijuana, to just one day in prison. He also presided over the stock-options backdating trial of Brocade Communications Systems CEO Gregory Reyes in 2007.
In 2014, he ruled against the City of San Francisco's legislation to protect tenants from Ellis Act evictions. He presided over the 2014 criminal case involving San Francisco police theft and racist texting, in which his court order was blamed for the delay in releasing information.
Following the Volkswagen emissions scandal, Breyer had approved $16.5 billion settlement for US consumers. Volkswagen agreed to redeem an estimated of 475,000 polluting 2.0 diesel automobiles in the US.
Breyer is the brother of former United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Breyer and his older brother Stephen were active in the Boy Scouts of America and achieved the Eagle Scout rank. Justice Breyer has recused himself from appeals of cases tried by his brother, including Olympic Airways v. Husain, Department of Housing and Urban Development v. Rucker, United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative, Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms, Amgen, Inc. v. Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds and City and County of San Francisco v. Sheehan.
- Scheck, Justin (September 1, 2005). "Federal Judge Breyer Runs Up Against Brother's Supreme Court Ruling". The Recorder. law.com. Retrieved May 14, 2009.
- Townley, Alvin (2007) [December 26, 2006]. Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America's Eagle Scouts. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 56–59. ISBN 978-0-312-36653-7. Archived from the original on December 19, 2006. Retrieved December 29, 2006.
- Ray, Mark (2007). "What It Means to Be an Eagle Scout". Scouting. Boy Scouts of America. Archived from the original on November 13, 2018. Retrieved January 5, 2007.
- Dean E. Murphy (2003-05-06). "O Marijuana Grower Sentenced to Day in Prison - The New York Times". nytimes.com. Retrieved 2019-08-01.
- Egelko, Bob (2014-10-22). "Judge tosses S.F. law meant to shield evicted tenants". SFGate. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
- Egelko, Bob (2015-02-23). "'Day of shame': Ex-SFPD sergeant gets prison in scandal". SFGate. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
- Egelko, Bob (2015-04-17). "Delay in alerting S.F. police brass about texts could hurt case". SFGate. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
- "Judge Breryer: Volkswagen makes 'substantial progress' toward 3.0 liter diesel agreement". Speedlux. 6 November 2016.
- Recent Case: Northern District of California Holds That Exclusive Review Provision Bars Endangered Species Act Claim in Suit over Pesticide Used on Genetically Modified Hay, 120 Harv. L. Rev. 2222 (2007).
- Eugene Volokh (2010-02-09). "O Brother, Where Art Thou? - The Volokh Conspiracy". Volokh.com. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
- "Breyer recuses self in Monsanto; Critics ask: why didn't Thomas? – DC Dicta". Lawyersusaonline.com. 2010-04-28. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
- "Amgen Inc. v. Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds". SCOTUSblog. 2013-02-27. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
- "Opinion analysis: No new limit on police use of force". SCOTUSblog. 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
- Sydney Goldstein
- "Nourse Auditorium renamed in honor of the late Sydney Goldstein". SF Chronicle Datebook.