New Chief Federal Judge Takes Office Saturday

     (CN) – U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken will step in as chief judge of California’s Northern District, effective Saturday, Sept. 1.
     Wilken replaces Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware, who is retiring after taking the helm on Jan. 1, 2011.
     Though Ware presided over the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Wilken will stay in the court’s Oakland division.
     “I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to serve this outstanding federal court in this new capacity,” Wilken said in a statement. “I look forward to working with my colleagues and our court staff to maintain and improve the services the court offers to the public even in the face of the significant budget constraints facing the United States Courts.”
     Wilken was next in line for the position based on federal selection criteria of age, seniority and experience. She can serve as chief for a maximum of seven years.
     A native of Minneapolis, Minn., Wilken received her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in 1971 and her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, in 1975.
     She served as a staff attorney for the Federal Public Defender’s Office, Northern District of California, from 1975 to 1978, before moving to private practice in Berkeley from 1978 to 1984. She also served as an adjunct professor at the University of California, Boalt Hall School of Law, during that time, as well as a professor at New College School of Law from 1980 to 1985.
     President Bill Clinton nominated Wilken to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Oct. 7, 1993, after her 10-year service in the same court as a U.S. magistrate judge.
     Ware, the outgoing chief, has been a federal judge since 1990. Previously he practiced law in Palo Alto, Calif., and served for two years as a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge.
     He said he enjoyed his role as a leader in his time as chief judge.
     “Providing leadership to the court in my capacity as chief judge has been an extremely rewarding part of my judicial career,” Ware said in a statement. “I wish to thank and commend my colleagues, my staff and the talented and diverse employees of the Clerk’s Office, the Probation Office, the Pretrial Services Office and the Public Defender as well as the Marshals Service, the United States Attorney and the bar of this Court. It is good to know that the court is in such good hands as I prepare to pass the leadership of the court to Judge Wilken.”
     Ware plans to join JAMS, an alternative dispute resolution provider, in San Francisco beginning Sept. 4, 2012. His remaining cases will be randomly assigned to other judges.

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