David F. Levi

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David F. Levi
David F. Levi.jpg
14th Dean of Duke Law School
Assumed office
July 1, 2007
Preceded by Katharine Bartlett
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California
In office
October 1, 1990 – June 30, 2007
Nominated by George H. W. Bush
Preceded by Edward Dean Price
Succeeded by John A. Mendez
United States Attorney for the
Eastern District of California
In office
Nominated by Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Donald B. Ayer
Succeeded by George L. O'Connell
Personal details
Born (1951-08-29) August 29, 1951 (age 65)
Chicago, Illinois
Nationality United States
Spouse(s) Nancy Ranney
Alma mater Harvard University (A.B.)
Stanford Law School (J.D.)

David F. Levi (born August 29, 1951)[1] is a former U.S. jurist and current Dean of the Duke University School of Law.[2] From 1990–2007, he was a Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, serving as Chief Judge since 2003.[3] At the time Levi left the bench, he was widely considered to be one of the top federal judges in the nation.[4][5] He has been mentioned as a possible nominee to the Supreme Court.[6][7]


Levi was born in Chicago, Illinois. His father was Edward H. Levi,[8] a former president of the University of Chicago and United States Attorney General under President Gerald R. Ford.[9] He received an undergraduate degree from Harvard College, in History and Literature (magna cum laude) in 1972 and then entered the graduate program in history at Harvard where he eventually specialized in English legal history. He received his law degree in 1980 from the Stanford Law School, where he graduated Order of the Coif and was President of the Stanford Law Review.

From 1980 to 1981 he served as clerk for Judge Ben C. Duniway of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and from 1981 to 1982 as clerk for Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell. In 1983, he joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California as a prosecutor. In 1986 he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California. Levi directed a major corruption investigation involving several California legislators and was also a member of the Attorney General's Advisory Committee and Chair of the Public Corruption Committee of United States Attorneys.[10] In 1990 he was appointed by President George H. W. Bush as a judge to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. He served as Chief Judge of the Eastern District of California from May 2003 – 2007. He resigned from the bench on June 30, 2007.[11]

In 1994 Levi was appointed by Chief Justice William Rehnquist to the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. He was appointed Chair of the Civil Rules Committee in 2000.[12] In October 2003 he was appointed Chair of the Standing Committee on the Rules of Practice and Procedure, which sits at the top of the federal judiciary's rulemaking process; in 2010 he was reappointed by Chief Justice John Roberts to serve as a member of that committee.

He was the first president and a founder of the Milton L. Schwartz American Inn of Court, now the Schwartz-Levi American Inn of Court, at the King Hall School of Law, University of California at Davis, and has served as Chair of the Ninth Circuit’s Task Force on Race, Religious and Ethnic Fairness and as the President of the Ninth Circuit District Judges Association.

In 2005, Levi was elected to the Council of the American Law Institute (ALI). A member of the ALI since 1991, Judge Levi was an Adviser to its Federal Judicial Code Revision Project and an Adviser to the Institute’s new Principles of the Law of Aggregate Litigation. He was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.

He is coauthor of Federal Trial Objections (James 2002). In 2010, he was named to the board of directors of Equal Justice Works.[13] He is on the Rehnquist Center's National Board of Advisers.[14]

His brother, John G. Levi,[15] introduced Barack and Michelle Obama.[16][17] His cousin Daniel Meltzer is a former White House Counsel.[18] His great-grandfather was A.G. Becker.

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Legal offices
Preceded by
Edward Dean Price
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California
Succeeded by
John A. Mendez