Marilyn Hall Patel

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Marilyn Hall Patel
Marilyn Hall Patel Senior District Judge.jpg
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California
In office
October 30, 2009 – September 30, 2012
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California
In office
Preceded byThelton Henderson
Succeeded byVaughn Walker
Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California
In office
June 30, 1980 – October 30, 2009
Appointed byJimmy Carter
Preceded bySeat established by 71 Stat. 586
Succeeded byEdward J. Davila
Personal details
Marilyn Hall

1938 (age 81–82)
Amsterdam, New York
EducationWheaton College (B.A.)
Fordham University School of Law (J.D.)

Marilyn Hall Patel (born 1938) is a former United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Education and career[edit]

Patel was born Marilyn Hall in 1938, in Amsterdam, New York. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1959 from Wheaton College and a Juris Doctor in 1963 from Fordham University School of Law. She worked in private practice in New York City from 1963 to 1967. She was an attorney with the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the United States Department of Justice in San Francisco, California from 1967 to 1971. She worked in private practice in San Francisco from 1971 to 1976. During this time she was counsel for the National Organization for Women and was a member of the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund's Board of Directors. She was an adjunct professor of law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law from 1974 to 1976. She was a judge of the Oakland-Piedmont Municipal Court in California from 1976 to 1980.[1]

Federal judicial service[edit]

Patel was nominated by President Jimmy Carter on May 9, 1980, to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, to a new seat authorized by 71 Stat. 586. She was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 26, 1980, and received her commission on June 30, 1980. She served as Chief Judge from 1997 to 2004.[1] Patel was both the first female judge and first female Chief Judge of the district.[2] She assumed senior status on October 30, 2009. She retired on September 30, 2012.[1]


In 1966 Patel married Indian-American banker Magan C. Patel. The couple have two sons. Patel won the California Women Lawyers' Rose Bird Memorial Award in 2003.[citation needed]

Notable cases[edit]

Other notable cases[edit]

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.[citation needed]

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.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11]

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.[12][13]

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.[14][15]

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.[16]


  1. ^ a b c "Patel, Marilyn Hall - Federal Judicial Center".
  2. ^ a b Yogi, Stan. "Marilyn Hall Patel". Densho Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  3. ^ 584 F.Supp. 1406 (N.D. Cal. 1984)
  4. ^ 114 F.Supp.2d 896 (N.D. Cal. 2000)
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ 922 F.Supp. 1426; 945 F.Supp. 1279 (N.D. Cal.)
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ "Fried Frank > Home".
  9. ^ "CAR_Public/991101.MBX".
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-09-03. Retrieved 2005-06-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "SAN FRANCISCO / Bid to sue over LSD rejected".
  12. ^ Egelko, Bob (December 15, 2006). "Judge says California's lethal-injection method is flawed". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 4, 2011.
  13. ^ "Judge Rules California's Current Lethal Injection Of Death Row Inmates is Unconstitutional, "But Can Be Fixed"". FindLaw. Retrieved May 4, 2011.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2005-06-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ " - closethebase Resources and Information".
  16. ^ "Search Results for "ci_8768098" – East Bay Times".

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Seat established by 71 Stat. 586
Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California
Succeeded by
Edward J. Davila
Preceded by
Thelton Henderson
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California
Succeeded by
Vaughn Walker