Vaughn R Walker
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Vaughn R Walker is Chief Judge, United States District Court, Northern District of California. The court is headquartered in San Francisco.
Judge Walker became United States District Judge in February 1990, having been nominated by President George H W Bush and earlier by President Reagan and confirmed by the United States Senate. Judge Walker became Chief Judge in September 2004. Judge Walker is a 1966 graduate of the University of Michigan. He worked briefly at the Securities & Exchange Commission and was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow in economics at the University of California (Berkeley). He studied law at the University of Chicago and Stanford University (JD 1970).
From 1971 to 1972, Judge Walker was law clerk to the Honorable Robert J Kelleher of the United States District Court in Los Angeles. From 1972 to 1990, he practiced law with Pillsbury Madison & Sutro (now Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman) in San Francisco, becoming a partner in 1978.
In 2007, Judge Walker was assigned by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to handle In re National Security Agency Telecommunications Records Litigation, MDL No 06-1791, a series of cases challenging telecommunications carriers��� alleged cooperation with the Terrorist Surveillance Program of the Bush administration. Judge Walker denied motions by the government and telecommunications carriers to dismiss the litigation on the ground that it would reveal state secrets. Hepting v A T & T, 439 F Supp2d 974 (ND Cal 2006). In later decisions, Judge Walker held that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act preempted the state secrets privilege with respect to foreign telecommunications surveillance, In re National Security Agency Telecommunications Records Litigation, 564 F Supp 2d 1109 (ND Cal 2009); denied government motions to dismiss claims in one case, Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, Inc v. Bush, 595 F Supp 2d 1077 (ND Cal 2009) and later ordered entry of a judgment in favor of the plaintiffs in that case, 700 F Supp 2d 1182 (ND Cal 2010) while dismissing other cases on grounds of legislatively enacted retroactive immunity and standing. See 630 F Supp 2d 1092 (ND Cal 2009); 633 F Supp 2d 949 (ND Cal 2009) and Jewel v National Sec Agency, 2010 WL 235075 (ND Cal 2010).
In 2000, Judge Walker was assigned by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to handle a series of cases arising out of claims by former prisoners of war; resolution of the claims required interpretation of provisions in the 1951 Treaty of Peace entered into by the United States, Japan and other nations. In re World War II Era Japanese Forced Labor Litigation, 164 F Supp 2d (ND Cal 2001), affirmed sub nom Deutsch v Turner Corp, 317 F 3d 1005 (9th Cir 2003), reh denied, 324 F 3d 692; certiorari denied 540 US 820 (2003).
Judge Walker is a member of the Civil Rules Advisory Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, former chair of the St Francis Foundation, a member of the American Law Institute and other professional organizations. He is a former member of the California Law Revision Commission, president of the Lawyers' Club of San Francisco and judicial representative of the American Bar Association Section of Antitrust Law.