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COURT:U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California APPOINTED:1995, by the judges of the Northern District DATE OF BIRTH:May 31, 1946 LAW SCHOOL:University of Chicago Law School PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: None In 1995, Bernard Zimmerman was contemplating retirement on Micro Beach in the Northern Mariana Islands when he got a fax announcing his appointment to the U.S. magistrate bench. He spent the next couple of years in limbo. His more than two-decade relationship with then-Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro ended under somewhat strained circumstances, apparently over his work as head of the pro bono practice. He had already spent some time away from the firm teaching in Louisiana. Even as it interrupted a lazy day on a world famous beach, it was a welcome fax. The 57-year-old magistrate was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany while his parents awaited passage to America, having lost several members of his extended family during World War II. Zimmerman said his immigration gave him an appreciation of America that some who were born here take for granted, and he wanted to give something back. Now, he’s applying for his second eight-year term. “Rarely do you get to the end of the day and you don’t feel like you’ve done something good,” Zimmerman said. In his lengthy career as a litigator, Zimmerman represented banks, lumber companies, media organizations — anyone who needed a good lawyer in court. His background as a big firm civil litigator seemingly gives him more in common with the Northern District’s judges than the magistrates. Despite the white-collar background, he was Pillsbury’s longest-running pro bono chair, offering the firm’s services on what are typically left-leaning cases. He is also a past board member of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco. Zimmerman has a civil consent calendar of about 100 cases and has issued some big rulings in recent years. He recently nixed a proposal to expand the Mammoth Lakes airport, which was opposed by environmentalists who argued that it would bring unchecked growth to the popular skiing destination just east of Yosemite National Park. But the biggest so far may be Ting v. AT&T, 182 F.Supp.2d 902, where Zimmerman struck down arbitration provisions that he held were unfairly imposed on AT&T customers. He was upheld on appeal at the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, creating a circuit split. The case could be headed for the U.S. Supreme Court. James Sturdevant of the Sturdevant Law Firm argued the case for the plaintiffs. He wondered whether he should stick with Zimmerman at first, but heard good things about him. Though Zimmerman denied him a preliminary injunction, the magistrate did deliver on his promise of a quick trial. “It was a very positive experience. I think he’s an excellent judge, and I would encourage all lawyers whose cases are assigned to him to stipulate to having the case assigned to him for all matters,” Sturdevant said. Zimmerman also took testimony via videoconference. He is one of the most technically savvy judges on the bench and says he has invited lawyers for years to submit briefs and exhibits on CD-ROM, complete with hypertext links. (In all that time, he’s received a grand total of three.) As a magistrate, much of Zimmerman’s time is also taken up overseeing settlement negotiations. “Litigation seems to be very positive and affirming for some people, but for most people it’s not that at all,” Zimmerman said. When interviewing for the magistrate position, Zimmerman said he told the court that, “Litigants should be able to get from the federal court the kind of services that were driving people to JAMS.” He is very hands-on, spending time trying to “strip away the obstacles to settlement.” Sometimes that obstacle is the lawyer, Zimmerman said. He has recommended sanctions in the past, but said very few lawyers before him “act out.” He points out that lawyers go to law school to learn how to litigate, when, in fact, trials rarely come into play. “There’s a real disconnect,” Zimmerman said. He advises lawyers to “think about how you more effectively deal with the 99 percent of the cases that are going to settle.” Zimmerman also has an unusual way of handling lawyers during discovery. Sometimes he requires lawyers to make audiotapes of their conferences to avoid the problem of subsequent he said/she said arguments. “I think you tend to behave a lot better,” Zimmerman said. You can order past judicial profiles of more than 100 Bay Area judges at www.therecorder.com/profiles.htmlor by calling 415-749-5523.

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