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Court: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of CaliforniaAge: 52Appointed: 1998 by President ClintonLaw School: Harvard Law SchoolPrevious Experience: Santa Clara Superior Court judge, June 1986 to March 1998; Santa Clara Municipal Court, September 1981 to June 1986Attorneys say U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel has the intellectual firepower ideal for Silicon Valley disputes.He easily wraps his mind around Silicon Valley’s cutting-edge securities class actions, trade secrets and other intellectual property cases that make up much of his calendar.Attorneys repeatedly describe him as “brilliant” and easily one of the best minds on the Northern District of California bench.“This guy has a really high-octane intellect,” said Terrence McMahon, a partner at McDermott, Will & Emery in Menlo Park.Building on his decade on the superior court bench, where he helped create the template for state securities class actions, Fogel is now making a name for himself on the district court.In a Monterey case, he was the first district court judge to use federal clean-water laws to hold private owners of water companies liable for endangering residents.And in a controversial Internet jurisdiction case, he recently overturned a French court order against Internet portal Yahoo Inc., finding that the order intruded on American borders and jeopardized First Amendment rights.“If you have a case and it’s not just boilerplate stuff, Judge Fogel is your best bet,” said Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe partner Gary Weiss. “For complex cases he is the ideal judge.”But some attorneys say Fogel is less likely than his San Jose colleagues to take a case to trial.“For pure computing power, no one tops Fogel, but judges joke that Fogel never tries a case,” said one observer. “If you are a great judge, you don’t just dispose of them. You have to try some of them.”Fogel said it’s true that he tries fewer cases than the other San Jose-based judges.“I don’t try many cases. It’s not because I am not willing. It’s just they settle,” Fogel said. He admits that his track record has been noticed. “It comes up internally. Staff will say, ‘God, Judge Fogel has not tried a case in six months.’”Fogel said he places a high emphasis on case management and resolving disputes before they go to a resource-intensive trial.“A lot of times a case goes to trial because you have not turned over all stones for settlement. A fair number of cases go to trial and don’t need to go to trial.”But Fogel points to two trials he’s conducted this year — a tax fraud case and a sexual predator case — as proof that he’s not one to shy away from trial work. “I actually enjoy a good trial,” he said.Others are also quick to defend his emphasis on case management.“When he was in the state court I had a matter get right to trial and he did nothing to discourage it,” Weiss said.Former Gov. George Deukmejian appointed Fogel to the Santa Clara Superior Court bench in 1986. As a case manager, Fogel, along with Judge Conrad Rushing, handled a majority of the state securities class actions.Indicative of Fogel’s ground-breaking work is one trial court ruling that set up a discovery firewall between state and federal court. The system was adopted by other trial courts, though it has faded from use with the near elimination of state securities suits due to legislative reform.“He was the first person to set up that kind of information wall in state court, and virtually everyone adopted it,” said Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partner Boris Feldman.While on the state court trial bench, Fogel was also one of a handful of judges in California to issue an injunction in an inevitable-disclosure trade secrets misappropriations case.Inevitable-disclosure cases, where plaintiff corporations allege that workers will, over time, inadvertently pass along trade secrets when they switch jobs, have been controversial because defense attorneys contend they butt heads with the California labor law that outlaws noncompete clauses.“I am impressed with his ability to get underneath the technology,” Weiss said.Fogel is also not afraid to break new ground on the federal bench, attorneys said. In the Yahoo case, Fogel wrote in November that American free speech law outweighs a French order banning the sale of Nazi memorabilia on Yahoo’s English-language auction site; he fined the Santa Clara-based search engine and Internet portal nearly $14,000 a day for noncompliance. Fogel ruled that Yahoo did not have to alter its servers in California to meet French laws banning the sale of Nazi merchandise.The decision was one of the first in the country to examine Internet jurisdiction issues that cross international borders.“It was an important and innovative decision,” said Cooley Godward partner Michael Traynor, who acted as local counsel for Yahoo. “I thought he was very careful and balanced in his consideration of the issues.”

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