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MUELLER LEFT POLITICS, IP FOR FEDERAL BENCH COURT: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California APPOINTED: March 28, 2003 BORN: Sept. 17, 1957 LAW SCHOOL: Stanford Law School, 1995 PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: None Kimberly Mueller’s eighth-floor office overlooks Sacramento’s downtown railyards, the proposed site for a controversial new arena that would house the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. It’s a fitting view for the federal magistrate judge. It literally offers a window to her past as a Sacramento city councilwoman � redevelopment of the 238-acre site has been a decades-long challenge for city leaders � while maintaining an appropriate distance between the bench and the political fray symbolized below. The path between Mueller’s days in elected office and her current role on the Eastern District of California federal bench wasn’t always as clear as her office view. But the transition has been a natural one for someone who describes herself as “a public servant at heart.” “It does seem like things have come together now,” Mueller said in a recent interview. “I’ve been fortunate to be able to follow [my] instincts and have them work out in ways that I’m able to do meaningful things.” The daughter of a junior high school teacher, Mueller and her family always thought she’d become a scholarly professor. But then she took a public policy course as a student at Pomona College. Life took a turn into politics, which brought her to the city of Davis to work on a project aiding farm workers. After a stint as a state legislative aide, Mueller became the health and safety director for the nonprofit arm of the politically powerful state firefighters union. Her unsuccessful effort to copyright an employee safety form unwittingly sparked an interest in intellectual property law. “It made me realize it had applications in places you hadn’t expected,” she said. In 1987, Mueller, then just 30 years old, was elected to the Sacramento City Council. She chaired the city’s budget committee, advocated infill development and curbside recycling, and knocked on thousands of doors in her east Sacramento district. But she never warmed to the campaign fund-raising aspect of the job. In 1992, Mueller entered Stanford Law School, ending what she called an 11-year detour from pursuing an advanced degree. After graduation she joined the Sacramento office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, where she handled intellectual property and Internet litigation. Five years later, she decided to launch her own practice. “I wanted to see if I could do an intellectual property boutique where I could make a living but would serve the local community and wasn’t patent-based,” she said. The young practice flourished to the point where Mueller added an associate and a subtenant. Then friends and colleagues encouraged her to consider applying for a soon-to-open position on the federal bench. Mueller had argued in federal court a number of times, knew some of the judges, and, after observing some of the criminal proceedings, thought the job might prove a good fit � despite her relative lack of experience. “I thought my city council experience would really help, because I was really young when I was a member,” Mueller said. “I had learned then that it takes time. First impressions matter, but you have to earn people’s respect. You don’t do it being heavy-handed or too hierarchical. You get people to respect you by doing your homework and doing your best.” Still, Mueller thought the odds were long that she would be selected. So when the supervising judge called to say the district court’s panel had picked her, “I felt like I hyperventilated for about half an hour because it was so surprising � and pleasing.” U.S. District Judge William Shubb said he and his colleagues were impressed with Mueller’s range of experience and general demeanor. “When we interviewed her, she just looked like a judge,” Shubb said. “She listened when we asked her questions. She thought about her answers. She commands respect.” Colleagues and attorneys say Mueller has a calm, contemplative style and appreciates good research and oral arguments. “I think she treats our clients as human beings, and I think she’s open-minded as to whether they should be released or what the terms of their bail should be,” said Dennis Waks, a supervising federal defender. The judge herself admits to losing her temper once or twice. “I understand now why judges get cranky. Sometimes the crankiness is, ‘I don’t want to do this, but I have to, because that’s what the law says I have to do.’” Far from cranky, Mueller is typically easygoing to lawyers on both sides of the aisle, according to defense attorney Michael Bigelow. “She’ll rule for you. She’ll rule against you. But she is always very pleasant about it,” Bigelow said. “Her rulings, I don’t always agree with them all the time, but I’ve found them to be well-reasoned.” Her advice to attorneys: Know your case’s weaknesses and find a subtle way � without damaging your argument � to acknowledge that to the court. “Have a dialogue with your opposing counsel before you get to court,” she added. “Sometimes I have attorneys come into court and all I have to ask is two questions and I’ve solved the matter. I can’t help but think if they had a good dialogue going they could have worked this out.”

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