United States District Court for the Northern District of California
|United States District Court for the Northern District of California|
|Location||Phillip Burton Federal Building|
|Appeals to||Ninth Circuit|
|Established||August 5, 1886|
|Chief Judge||Phyllis J. Hamilton|
|Officers of the court|
|U.S. Attorney||David L. Anderson|
The United States District Court for the Northern District of California (in case citations, N.D. Cal.) is the federal United States district court whose jurisdiction comprises following counties of California: Alameda, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma. The court hears cases in its courtrooms in Eureka, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose. It is headquartered in San Francisco.
Cases from the Northern District of California are appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit).
California was admitted as a state on September 9, 1850, and was initially divided into two districts, the Northern and the Southern, by Act of Congress approved September 28, 1850, 9 Stat. 521. The boundary line was at the 37th parallel of North Latitude. The creating act provided that:
- In addition to the ordinary jurisdiction and powers of a District Court of the United States, with which the Southern District Court of New York has been invested, the said Courts be and hereby are invested respectively within the limits of its district with the exercise of concurrent jurisdiction and power in all civil cases now exercised by the Circuit Courts of the United States; and that in all cases where said Courts shall exercise such jurisdiction, appeals may be taken from the judgments, orders or decrees of said Courts to the Supreme Court of the United States.
The Act of August 31, 1852 made the Judge of the Northern District be Judge of the Southern District as well until otherwise provided, by 10 Stat. 76, 84, effectively creating a single District in all but name until an Act of January 18, 1854 provided for the appointment of a Judge for the Southern District. The Southern District of California was abolished and the State made to constitute a single district – the United States District Court for the District of California – by Act of Congress approved July 27, 1866, 14 Stat. 300.
Twenty years later, on August 5, 1886, Congress re-created the Southern District of California by 24 Stat. 308. Erskine M. Ross was appointed Judge of the new district and served until his promotion to the Circuit Judgeship, when he was succeeded by Olin Wellborn. On March 18, 1966, the Eastern and Central Districts were created from portions of the Northern and Southern Districts by 80 Stat. 75.
The court has become known as the presumptive destination for major cases (such as large class actions and multi-district litigation) involving defendants based in East Asia and the high tech sector.  These cases usually involve patent law and intellectual property law (such as copyright law and DMCA issues as well as trademark law and trade secret law) - especially in the semiconductor, telecommunications and software industries and other high technology areas, antitrust law, securities law, and technology law in general (e.g., cybersecurity, Internet law, computer law and cases involving software).
As of January 21, 2021[update]:
|#||Title||Judge||Duty station||Born||Term of service||Appointed by|
|57||Chief Judge||Phyllis J. Hamilton||Oakland||1952||2000–present||2014–present||—||Clinton|
|58||District Judge||Jeffrey White||Oakland||1945||2002–present||—||—||G.W. Bush|
|59||District Judge||Richard Seeborg||San Francisco||1956||2010–present||—||—||Obama|
|60||District Judge||Lucy Koh||San Jose||1968||2010–present||—||—||Obama|
|61||District Judge||Edward Davila||San Jose||1952||2011–present||—||—||Obama|
|62||District Judge||Edward M. Chen||San Francisco||1953||2011–present||—||—||Obama|
|63||District Judge||Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers||Oakland||1965||2011–present||—||—||Obama|
|64||District Judge||Jon S. Tigar||Oakland||1962||2013–present||—||—||Obama|
|65||District Judge||William Orrick III||San Francisco||1953||2013–present||—||—||Obama|
|66||District Judge||James Donato||San Francisco||1960||2014–present||—||—||Obama|
|67||District Judge||Beth Labson Freeman||San Jose||1953||2014–present||—||—||Obama|
|68||District Judge||Vince Chhabria||San Francisco||1969||2014–present||—||—||Obama|
|69||District Judge||Haywood Gilliam||Oakland||1969||2014–present||—||—||Obama|
|38||Senior Judge||Thelton Henderson||inactive||1933||1980–1998||1990–1997||1998–present||Carter|
|47||Senior Judge||Saundra Brown Armstrong||Oakland||1947||1991–2012||—||2012–present||G.H.W. Bush|
|49||Senior Judge||Ronald Whyte||inactive||1942||1992–2009||—||2009–present||G.H.W. Bush|
|50||Senior Judge||Claudia Ann Wilken||Oakland||1949||1993–2014||2012–2014||2014–present||Clinton|
|51||Senior Judge||Maxine M. Chesney||San Francisco||1942||1995–2009||—||2009–present||Clinton|
|52||Senior Judge||Susan Illston||San Francisco||1948||1995–2013||—||2013–present||Clinton|
|53||Senior Judge||Charles R. Breyer||San Francisco||1941||1997–2011||—||2011–present||Clinton|
|56||Senior Judge||William Haskell Alsup||San Francisco||1945||1999–2021||—||2021–present||Clinton|
Vacancies and pending nominations
|Seat||Prior Judge's Duty Station||Seat last held by||Vacancy reason||Date of vacancy||Nominee||Date of nomination|
|6||San Francisco||William Haskell Alsup||Senior status||January 21, 2021||–||–|
|18||Oakland||Phyllis J. Hamilton||February 1, 2021||–||–|
|5||Oakland||Jeffrey White||February 1, 2021||–||–|
|#||Judge||State||Born–died||Active service||Chief Judge||Senior status||Appointed by||Reason for|
|1||Ogden Hoffman Jr.||CA||1822–1891||1851–1866[Note 1]
Operation of law
|reassignment to D. Cal.|
|2||William W. Morrow||CA||1843–1929||1891–1897[Note 3]||—||—||B. Harrison||elevation to 9th Cir.|
|3||John J. De Haven||CA||1849–1913||1897–1913||—||—||McKinley||death|
|4||William Cary Van Fleet||CA||1852–1923||1907–1923[Note 4]||—||—||T. Roosevelt||death|
|5||Maurice Timothy Dooling||CA||1860–1924||1913–1924||—||—||Wilson||death|
|6||John Slater Partridge||CA||1870–1926||1923–1926||—||—||Harding||death|
|7||Frank Henry Kerrigan||CA||1868–1935||1924–1935||—||—||Coolidge||death|
|8||Adolphus Frederic St. Sure||CA||1869–1949||1925–1947||—||1947–1949||Coolidge||death|
|10||Michael Joseph Roche||CA||1878–1964||1935–1958||1948–1958||1958–1964||F. Roosevelt||death|
|11||Martin Ignatius Welsh||CA||1882–1953||1939–1947||—||1947–1953||F. Roosevelt||death|
|12||Louis Earl Goodman||CA||1892–1961||1942–1961||1958–1961||—||F. Roosevelt||death|
|13||George Bernard Harris||CA||1901–1983||1946–1970||1961–1970||1970–1983||Truman||death|
|14||Dal Millington Lemmon||CA||1887–1958||1947–1954||—||—||Truman||elevation to 9th Cir.|
|15||Herbert Wilson Erskine||CA||1888–1951||1949–1951||—||—||Truman||death|
|16||Oliver Jesse Carter||CA||1911–1976||1950–1976||1970–1976||1976–1976||Truman||death|
|17||Edward Preston Murphy||CA||1904–1958||1950–1958||—||—||Truman||death|
|18||Monroe Mark Friedman||CA||1895–1978||1952–1953[Note 5]||—||—||Truman||not confirmed|
|19||Oliver Deveta Hamlin Jr.||CA||1892–1973||1953–1958||—||—||Eisenhower||elevation to 9th Cir.|
|20||Sherrill Halbert||CA||1901–1991||1954–1966||—||—||Eisenhower||reassignment to E.D. Cal.|
|21||Albert Charles Wollenberg||CA||1900–1981||1958–1975||—||1975–1981||Eisenhower||death|
|22||Lloyd Hudson Burke||CA||1916–1988||1958–1988||—||—||Eisenhower||death|
|23||William Thomas Sweigert||CA||1900–1983||1959–1973||—||1973–1983||Eisenhower||death|
|24||Thomas Jamison MacBride||CA||1914–2000||1961–1966||—||—||Kennedy||reassignment to E.D. Cal.|
|26||Stanley Alexander Weigel||CA||1905–1999||1962–1982||—||1982–1997||Kennedy||retirement|
|27||Robert Francis Peckham||CA||1920–1993||1966–1988||1976–1988||1988–1993||L. Johnson||death|
|28||Gerald Sanford Levin||CA||1906–1971||1969–1971||—||—||Nixon||death|
|29||Robert Howard Schnacke||CA||1913–1994||1970–1983||—||1983–1994||Nixon||death|
|31||Spencer Mortimer Williams||CA||1922–2008||1971–1987||—||1987–2008||Nixon||death|
|32||Charles Byron Renfrew||CA||1928–2017||1971–1980||—||—||Nixon||resignation|
|33||William Horsley Orrick Jr.||CA||1915–2003||1974–1985||—||1985–2003||Nixon||death|
|34||William Austin Ingram||CA||1924–2002||1976–1990||1988–1990||1990–2002||Ford||death|
|35||Cecil F. Poole||CA||1914–1997||1976–1980||—||—||Ford||elevation to 9th Cir.|
|37||Robert Peter Aguilar||CA||1931–present||1980–1996||—||1996–1996||Carter||retirement|
|39||Marilyn Hall Patel||CA||1938–present||1980–2009||1997–2004||2009–2012||Carter||retirement|
|40||Eugene F. Lynch||CA||1931–present||1982–1997||—||1997–1997||Reagan||retirement|
|41||John P. Vukasin Jr.||CA||1928–1993||1983–1993||—||—||Reagan||death|
|42||Charles A. Legge||CA||1930–present||1984–2001||—||—||Reagan||retirement|
|43||D. Lowell Jensen||CA||1928–present||1986–1997||—||1997–2014||Reagan||retirement|
|44||Fern M. Smith||CA||1933–present||1988–2003||—||2003–2005||Reagan||retirement|
|45||Vaughn Walker||CA||1944–present||1989–2011||2004–2010||—||G.H.W. Bush||retirement|
|46||James Ware||CA||1946–present||1990–2012||2010–2012||—||G.H.W. Bush||retirement|
|48||Barbara A. Caulfield||CA||1947–2010||1991–1994||—||—||G.H.W. Bush||resignation|
- From 1852 to 1854, Judge Hoffman was jointly appointed to the Northern and Southern Districts of California.
- Reassigned from the District of California
- Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 10, 1891, confirmed by the United States Senate on January 11, 1892, and received commission on January 11, 1892
- Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 3, 1907, confirmed by the Senate on December 17, 1907, and received commission on December 17, 1907
- Recess appointment; the Senate later rejected the appointment
Chief judges have administrative responsibilities with respect to their district court. Unlike the Supreme Court, where one justice is specifically nominated to be chief, the office of chief judge rotates among the district court judges. To be chief, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as chief judge. A vacancy is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The chief judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position.
When the office was created in 1948, the chief judge was the longest-serving judge who had not elected to retire on what has since 1958 been known as senior status or declined to serve as chief judge. After August 6, 1959, judges could not become or remain chief after turning 70 years old. The current rules have been in operation since October 1, 1982.
Succession of seats
United States Attorney
The United States Attorney for the Northern District of California represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. The current United States Attorney is David L. Anderson.
- Courts of California
- List of current United States district judges
- List of United States federal courthouses in California
- U.S. District Courts of California, Legislative history Archived May 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Federal Judicial Center.
- Willoughby Rodman, History of the Bench and Bar of Southern California (1909), p. 46.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 24, 2015. Retrieved July 26, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit (January 25, 2021). "Judicial Vacancies and Nominations". Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit. Retrieved January 26, 2021.
- Future Judicial Vacancies