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Phyllis Hamilton Begins|Work as Chief Judge

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Judge Phyllis Hamilton on Friday began work as the first African-American woman chief judge in the history of the U.S. District Court for Northern California.

Hamilton, 62, was selected in December to replace Chief U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken, who became a senior judge. Judge Haywood Gilliam took over Wilken's seat.

Hamilton was next in line for the job under statutory requirements that base selection on a combination of age, seniority and experience. Hamilton's term is seven years.

"Having enjoyed my work in court governance in many capacities over the years, I look forward to working with my colleagues and the bar and staff of this court to continue the court's traditions of innovation and excellent service," she said in a statement.

Hamilton was born in Jacksonville, Ill. She received her B.A. from Stanford University in 1974 and her law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law in 1976. She began her legal career as a deputy public defender, and became a court commissioner for the Oakland Municipal Court in 1985.

Hamilton will continue hearing cases in Oakland, where she has sat since 2010. She was appointed in 2000 by President Bill Clinton.

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