United States District Court for the Northern District of California
(N.D. Cal.)
LocationPhillip Burton Federal Building
More locations
Appeals toNinth Circuit
EstablishedAugust 5, 1886
Chief JudgeRichard Seeborg
Officers of the court
U.S. AttorneyIsmail Ramsey
U.S. MarshalMark Kolc (acting)

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 the 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).

Because it covers San Francisco and Silicon Valley, the Northern District of California has become known as the presumptive destination for major federal lawsuits (such as large class actions and multi-district litigation) involving defendants based in East Asia and the high tech sector. [1] 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).



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.[2] The boundary line was at the 37th parallel of North Latitude.[3] 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,[2] 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.[3] 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.[2][3]

Twenty years later, on August 5, 1886, Congress re-created the Southern District of California by 24 Stat. 308.[3] 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.[3] On March 18, 1966, the Eastern and Central Districts were created from portions of the Northern and Southern Districts by 80 Stat. 75.[2]

Current judges


As of May 7, 2024:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
59 Chief Judge Richard Seeborg San Francisco 1956 2010–present 2021–present Obama
61 District Judge Edward Davila San Jose 1952 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
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
70 District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley San Francisco 1966 2022–present Biden
71 District Judge Trina Thompson San Francisco 1961 2022–present Biden
72 District Judge Araceli Martínez-Olguín San Francisco 1977 2023–present Biden
73 District Judge P. Casey Pitts San Jose 1980 2023–present Biden
74 District Judge Rita F. Lin San Francisco 1978 2023–present Biden
75 District Judge Eumi K. Lee San Jose 1972 2024–present Biden
38 Senior Judge Thelton Henderson inactive 1933 1980–1998 1990–1997 1998–present Carter
47 Senior Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong inactive 1947 1991–2012 2012–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 Breyer San Francisco 1941 1997–2011 2011–present Clinton
56 Senior Judge William Alsup San Francisco 1945 1999–2021 2021–present Clinton
57 Senior Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton Oakland 1952 2000–2021 2014–2021 2021–present Clinton
58 Senior Judge Jeffrey White Oakland 1945 2002–2021 2021–present G.W. Bush
62 Senior Judge Edward M. Chen San Francisco 1953 2011–2022 2022–present Obama
65 Senior Judge William Orrick III San Francisco 1953 2013–2023 2023–present Obama

Vacancies and pending nominations

Seat Prior judge's duty station Seat last held by Vacancy reason Date of vacancy Nominee Date of nomination
15 San Jose Edward Davila Senior status TBD[4] Noël Wise June 13, 2024

Former judges

# 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]
1886–1891[Note 2]
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
9 Harold Louderback CA 1881–1941 1928–1941 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 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.
25 Alfonso Zirpoli CA 1905–1995 1961–1975 1975–1995 Kennedy death
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
30 Samuel Conti CA 1922–2018 1970–1987 1987–2018 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 H. 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.
36 William Schwarzer CA 1925–2017 1976–1991 1991–2017 Ford death
37 Robert Peter Aguilar CA 1931–2020 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 1931–2019 1982–1997 1997–1997 Reagan retirement
41 John P. Vukasin Jr. CA 1928–1993 1983–1993 Reagan death
42 Charles A. Legge CA 1930–2023 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
49 Ronald Whyte CA 1942–2023 1992–2009 2009–2023 G.H.W. Bush death
54 Martin Jenkins CA 1953–present 1997–2008 Clinton resignation
55 Jeremy Fogel CA 1949–present 1998–2014 2014–2018 Clinton retirement
60 Lucy Koh CA 1968–present 2010–2021 Obama elevation to 9th Cir.
  1. ^ From 1852 to 1854, Judge Hoffman was jointly appointed to the Northern and Southern Districts of California.
  2. ^ Reassigned from the District of California
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 3, 1907, confirmed by the Senate on December 17, 1907, and received commission on December 17, 1907
  5. ^ Recess appointment; the Senate later rejected the appointment

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. As of March 21, 2023 the United States attorney is Ismail Ramsey.

See also



  1. ^ "In this corner . . . | imPaneled". Archived from the original on February 24, 2015. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d U.S. District Courts of California, Legislative history Archived May 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Federal Judicial Center.
  3. ^ a b c d e Willoughby Rodman, History of the Bench and Bar of Southern California (1909), p. 46.
  4. ^ "Future Judicial Vacancies | United States Courts". www.uscourts.gov.
  5. ^ Neyfakh, Leon (June 26, 2017). ""The Most Important Unknown Person in D.C."". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved April 5, 2024.