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Court: U.S. District Court for the Northern District Appointed: 1997, by President Clinton Date of Birth: 1953 Previous Judicial Experience: Alameda County Municipal Court 1989-1992; Alameda County Superior Court, 1992-1997 Law Degree: University of San Francisco School of Law By all accounts, U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins has made the leap from state to federal court with his reputation as a premier jurist intact. Avoid making too much of his past as a former pro football player — Jenkins is about as calm and deliberate as they come. But if he starts by announcing that he has a few questions, expect to be in court awhile. Jenkins will sometimes examine issues with a jeweler’s eye. “He will take the time. He wants all the questions answered,” said defense attorney Jerrold Ladar. “Which I like.” But if he feels he’s got the case under control, Jenkins will press the accelerator, Ladar said. “He likes to move things along. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly,” he said. “He’ll come on the bench and really know where he’s going.” Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein partner James Finberg, who has had four cases in front of Jenkins, said the judge does move things along. “He has regular case management conferences to hold people’s toes to the fire,” Finberg said. The acclaim that accompanied Jenkins’ departure from the Alameda County bench was almost universal. Many who have appeared before him say the adjustment to the federal bench has gone well. One of first major tests of a new federal court judge is a complex patent or intellectual property case. Morgan Tovey is a San Francisco-based partner who heads Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May’s IP litigation department. He had one of Jenkin’s first — if not the first — patent cases. “We were very impressed,” Tovey said. “He asked questions that demonstrated he was not only up to speed, but zeroed in on critical issues.” Tovey praised Jenkins’ ruling on the claims constructions in the case, which involved a disputed angioplasty catheter. Claims construction rulings define the terms used in the case and are largely case-dispositive. “His judicial demeanor was impressive,” Tovey said. “I think he’s one of the rising stars on the Northern District.” Tovey won his case, and pointed out that Jenkins’ ruling survived an appeal — not at all a given in patent cases. Jenkins is a former Alameda County prosecutor, placing him among a family of judges who started their careers in the Alameda County district attorney’s office. His Northern District colleague on the bench, Senior Judge D. Lowell Jensen, is widely seen as the godfather of that family. Reluctant to be interviewed for fear of being seen as seeking attention, Jenkins did say he is no different from other judges in what he expects of lawyers: courtesy, timeliness and preparation. Jenkins, who sees himself as “pretty active” during law and motion calendars, said he doesn’t make up his mind on issues before arguments. “I think the answers tell me where I’m going to go,” Jenkins said of his queries of lawyers. “If I had it resolved there wouldn’t be any need for oral argument.” As for advice: “I really don’t appreciate it when lawyers cite cases [for the first time] on the day of oral argument.” He also said lawyers shouldn’t try to hide problems, saying they should “Be up front with what their bad fact is, or troublesome case.” Tovey said he never saw Jenkins lose his temper, but Ladar says the judge is not afraid to snap lawyers back into line. It doesn’t carry over into other cases on the calendar, Ladar added. Jenkins has demonstrated flexibility. In at least one case, lawyers have been successful in getting Jenkins to reverse himself. Last year he switched course to hold that statements made during the course of an internal investigation that became part of the record in a state court trial against a former prison guard now facing federal charges could not be entered into the federal record. He reversed the earlier decision because he held that the guard’s attorney, Robert Noel — the same Noel convicted last week of manslaughter in the San Francisco dog-mauling trial — was incompetent. Under state law, the investigatory statements should not have been used against Noel’s client in the criminal trial. Jenkins is also presiding over what is possibly the largest ever sexual harassment class action, filed against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. In his most significant ruling so far in the case, Jenkins denied Wal-Mart’s request to have the suit transferred to its home base of Arkansas. Jenkins is seen as a middle-of-the road judge. “I don’t think he brings a political agenda to the table,” Lieff Cabraser partner Finberg said. Jenkins’ past bears that out. Although appointed by President Clinton, he also worked in the Justice Department under President Reagan.

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