Neil V. Wake

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Neil Vincent Wake
Neil V. Wake.jpg
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona
Assumed office
July 5, 2016
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona
In office
March 15, 2004 – July 5, 2016
Appointed byGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byPaul Gerhardt Rosenblatt
Succeeded bySusan Brnovich
Personal details
Neil Vincent Wake

(1948-07-02) July 2, 1948 (age 71)
Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
EducationArizona State University (B.A.)
Harvard Law School (J.D.)

Neil Vincent Wake (born July 2, 1948) is a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona.

Education and career[edit]

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Wake received a Bachelor of Arts from Arizona State University in 1971 and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1974. He was in private practice in Arizona from 1974 to 2004.

Federal judicial service[edit]

On October 22, 2003, Wake was nominated by President George W. Bush to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Arizona vacated by Paul Gerhardt Rosenblatt. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 12, 2004, and received his commission three days later.

Wake has presided over a number of notable cases:

  • In 2008, Wake upheld an Arizona law, the "Legal Arizona Workers Act," barring businesses from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants and providing for the revocation of business licenses for businesses who twice violated the law. The ruling rejected the arguments of business groups which had raised a constitutional challenge to the law, arguing that it infringed on the federal government's powers to regulate immigration matters.[1] This ruling was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011, in the case of Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting.[2]
  • Also in 2008, Wake issued an order ordering Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio to remediate unconstitutional conditions in the county jail system that he oversaw, one of the nation's largest. Wake ordered that inmates in initial processing receive a bed or mattress and adequate food, rather than the moldy and rotten food that inmates had previously been served. Wake also ruled that the jails' treatment of mentally ill inmates caused "needless suffering and deterioration" and ordered the sheriff to ensure that such inmates receive prescribed medication.[3]
  • Wake oversaw the criminal case of a man who had defaced a thousand-year old, Native American petroglyph (the Descending Sheep Panel) at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area by carving his name into it. The man pleaded guilty in 2010 to damaging an archeological resource (a felony), and in 2011 Wake sentenced the man to pay $10,000 in restitution and complete 100 hours of community service.[4]
  • In 2013, Wake stayed the implementation of, and later overturned, an Arizona law that had attempted to bar Planned Parenthood and other health care clinics that perform abortions from receiving state funding for family planning and other health services offered by the organization and other groups. Wake ruled that the Arizona act, which had been signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer in 2012, "violates the freedom of choice provision of the Medicaid Act precisely because every Medicaid beneficiary has the right to select any qualified health care provider."[5]
  • Wake oversaw a civil proceeding instituted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the Cheesecake Factory. The EEOC had alleged that the restaurant chain had "allowing male kitchen staffers to sexually harass other male workers" in its Chandler, Arizona restaurant. In 2009, Wake issued a consent decree approving of a settlement in which the Cheesecake Factory did not admit any wrongdoing, but agreed to pay $345,000, to improve sexual harassment training, and to appoint an attorney ombudsman.[6]

He took senior status on July 5, 2016.


  1. ^ Arizona Law Banning the Hiring of Illegal Immigrants Is Upheld, Associated Press (February 8, 2008).
  2. ^ Robert Barnes, Supreme Court upholds Ariz. law punishing companies that hire illegal immigrants, Washington Post (May 26, 2011).
  3. ^ Randal C. Archibold, U.S. Judge Orders Arizona Sheriff to Improve Jails, New York Times (OCtober 23, 2008).
  4. ^ David Schwartz, Man sanctioned for defacing 1,000-year-old Native carving, Reuters (April 5, 2011).
  5. ^ Arizona: Clinic Financing Ban Is Overturned, Reuters (February 11, 2013).
  6. ^ Cheesecake Factory settles sexual harassment suit, Reuters (November 10, 2009).

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Paul Gerhardt Rosenblatt
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona
Succeeded by
Susan Brnovich