United States District Court For the Northern District of California
United States District Court for the Northern District of California
(N.D. Cal.)
US DC NorCal.svg
Appeals to Ninth Circuit
Established August 5, 1886
Judges assigned 14
Chief Judge Phyllis Jean Hamilton

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.[1] The boundary line was at the 37th parallel of North Latitude.[2] 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,[1] 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.[2] 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.[1][2]

Twenty years later, on August 5, 1886, Congress re-created the Southern District of California by 24 Stat. 308.[2]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.[2] On March 18, 1966, the Eastern and Central Districts were created from portions of the Northern and Southern Districts by 80 Stat. 75.[1]


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. [3]

Current judges

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
57 Chief Judge Phyllis Jean Hamilton Oakland 1952 2000-present 2014-present -- Clinton
56 District Judge William Haskell Alsup San Francisco 1945 1999-present -- -- Clinton
58 District Judge Jeffrey White Oakland 1945 2002-present -- -- G.W. Bush
59 District Judge Richard G. Seeborg San Francisco 1956 2010-present -- -- Obama
60 District Judge Lucy H. Koh San Jose 1968 2010-present -- -- Obama
61 District Judge Edward J. 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 San Francisco 1962 2013-present -- -- Obama
65 District Judge William H. 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 Girdhari Chhabria San Francisco 1969 2014-present -- -- Obama
69 District Judge Haywood Stirling Gilliam, Jr. Oakland 1969 2014-present -- -- Obama
30 Senior Judge Samuel Conti inactive 1922 1970-1987 -- 1987-present Nixon
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 M. 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
55 Senior Judge Jeremy Fogel San Jose 1949 1998-2014 -- 2014-present Clinton

Former judges

# Judge State Born-died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Hoffman, Jr., OgdenOgden Hoffman, Jr. CA 1822-1891 1851-1866 -- -- Fillmore, Fillmore reassignment to D. Cal.
1.1 Hoffman, Jr., OgdenOgden Hoffman, Jr. CA 1822-1891 1886-1891 -- -- Fillmore, Fillmore death
2 Morrow, William W.William W. Morrow CA 1843-1929 1891[4]-1897 -- -- Harrison, B.B. Harrison appointment to 9th Cir.
3 Haven, John J. DeJohn J. De Haven CA 1849-1913 1897-1913 -- -- McKinley, McKinley death
4 Van Fleet, William CaryWilliam Cary Van Fleet CA 1852-1923 1907-1923 -- -- Roosevelt, T.T. Roosevelt death
5 Dooling, Maurice TimothyMaurice Timothy Dooling CA 1860-1924 1913-1924 -- -- Wilson, Wilson death
6 Partridge, John SlaterJohn Slater Partridge CA 1870-1926 1923-1926 -- -- Harding, Harding death
7 Kerrigan, Frank HenryFrank Henry Kerrigan CA 1868-1935 1924-1935 -- -- Coolidge, Coolidge death
8 St. Sure, Adolphus FredericAdolphus Frederic St. Sure CA 1869-1949 1925-1947 -- 1947-1949 Coolidge, Coolidge death
9 Louderback, HaroldHarold Louderback CA 1881-1941 1928-1941 -- -- Coolidge, Coolidge death
10 Roche, Michael JosephMichael Joseph Roche CA 1878-1964 1935-1958 1948-1958 1958-1964 Roosevelt, F.F. Roosevelt death
11 Welsh, Martin IgnatiusMartin Ignatius Welsh CA 1882-1953 1939-1946 -- 1946-1953 Roosevelt, F.F. Roosevelt death
12 Goodman, Louis EarlLouis Earl Goodman CA 1892-1961 1942-1961 1958-1961 -- Roosevelt, F.F. Roosevelt death
13 Harris, George BernardGeorge Bernard Harris CA 1901-1983 1946-1970 1961-1970 1970-1983 Truman, Truman death
14 Lemmon, Dal MillingtonDal Millington Lemmon CA 1887-1958 1947-1954 -- -- Truman, Truman appointment to 9th Cir.
15 Erskine, Herbert WilsonHerbert Wilson Erskine CA 1888-1951 1949-1951 -- -- Truman, Truman death
16 Carter, Oliver JesseOliver Jesse Carter CA 1911-1976 1950-1976 1970-1976 1976 Truman, Truman death
17 Murphy, Edward PrestonEdward Preston Murphy CA 1904-1958 1950-1958 -- -- Truman, Truman death
18 Friedman, Monroe MarkMonroe Mark Friedman CA 1895-1978 1952-1953 -- -- Truman, Truman not confirmed[5]
19 Hamlin, Jr., Oliver DevetaOliver Deveta Hamlin, Jr. CA 1892-1973 1953-1958 -- -- Eisenhower, Eisenhower appointment to 9th Cir.
20 Halbert, SherrillSherrill Halbert CA 1901-1991 1954-1966 -- -- Eisenhower, Eisenhower reassignment to E.D. Cal.
21 Wollenberg, Albert CharlesAlbert Charles Wollenberg CA 1900-1981 1958-1975 -- 1975-1981 Eisenhower, Eisenhower death
22 Burke, Lloyd HudsonLloyd Hudson Burke CA 1916-1988 1958-1979 -- 1979-1988 Eisenhower, Eisenhower death
23 Sweigert, William ThomasWilliam Thomas Sweigert CA 1900-1983 1959-1973 -- 1973-1983 Eisenhower, Eisenhower death
24 MacBride, Thomas JamisonThomas Jamison MacBride CA 1914-2000 1961-1966 -- -- Kennedy, Kennedy reassignment to E.D. Cal.
25 Zirpoli, AlfonsoAlfonso Zirpoli CA 1905-1995 1961-1975 -- 1975-1995 Kennedy, Kennedy death
26 Weigel, Stanley AlexanderStanley Alexander Weigel CA 1905-1999 1962-1982 -- 1982-1997 Kennedy, Kennedy retirement
27 Peckham, Robert FrancisRobert Francis Peckham CA 1920-1993 1966-1988 1976-1988 1988-1993 Johnson, L.L. Johnson death
28 Levin, Gerald SanfordGerald Sanford Levin CA 1906-1971 1969-1971 -- -- Nixon, Nixon death
29 Schnacke, Robert HowardRobert Howard Schnacke CA 1913-1994 1970-1983 -- 1983-1994 Nixon, Nixon death
31 Williams, Spencer MortimerSpencer Mortimer Williams CA 1922-2008 1971-1987 -- 1987-2008 Nixon, Nixon death
32 Renfrew, Charles ByronCharles Byron Renfrew CA 1928-2017 1971-1980 -- -- Nixon, Nixon resignation
33 Orrick, Jr., William HorsleyWilliam Horsley Orrick, Jr. CA 1915-2003 1974-1985 -- 1985-2003 Nixon, Nixon death
34 Ingram, William AustinWilliam Austin Ingram CA 1924-2002 1976-1990 1988-1990 1990-2002 Ford, Ford death
35 Poole, Cecil F.Cecil F. Poole CA 1914-1997 1976-1980 -- -- Ford, Ford appointment to 9th Cir.
36 Schwarzer, WilliamWilliam Schwarzer CA 1925-2017 1976-1991 -- 1991-2017 Ford, Ford death
37 Aguilar, Robert PeterRobert Peter Aguilar CA 1931-present 1980-1996 -- 1996 Carter, Carter retirement
39 Hall Patel, MarilynMarilyn Hall Patel CA 1938-present 1980-2009 1997-2004 2009-2012 Carter retirement
40 Lynch, Eugene F.Eugene F. Lynch CA 1931-present 1982-1997 -- 1997 Reagan, Reagan retirement
41 Vukasin Jr., John P.John P. Vukasin Jr. CA 1928-1993 1983-1993 -- -- Reagan, Reagan death
42 Legge, Charles A.Charles A. Legge CA 1930-present 1984-2001 -- -- Reagan, Reagan retirement
43 Jensen, D. LowellD. Lowell Jensen CA 1928-present 1986-1997 -- 1997-2014 Reagan, Reagan retirement
44 Smith, Fern M.Fern M. Smith CA 1933-present 1988-2003 -- 2003-2005 Reagan, Reagan retirement
45 Walker, VaughnVaughn Walker CA 1944-present 1989-2011 2004-2010 -- G.H.W. Bush retirement
46 Ware, JamesJames Ware CA 1946-present 1990-2012 2011-2012 -- G.H.W. Bush retirement
48 Caulfield, Barbara A.Barbara A. Caulfield CA 1947-2010 1991-1994 -- -- Bush, G.H.W.G.H.W. Bush resignation
54 Jenkins, MartinMartin Jenkins CA 1954-present 1997-2008 -- -- Clinton, Clinton resignation

Chief judges

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 Acting United States Attorney has been Alex G. Tse since January 7, 2018.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d U.S. District Courts of California, Legislative history Archived May 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine., Federal Judicial Center.
  2. ^ a b c d e Willoughby Rodman, History of the Bench and Bar of Southern California (1909), p. 46.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 24, 2015. Retrieved 2013. 
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Recess appointment; the United States Senate later rejected the appointment.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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