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SAN FRANCISCO — Holding court even on her final day at the helm, Chief Judge Mary M. Schroeder, the first woman to lead the nation’s largest federal appeals court, steps aside Friday in a ceremony passing the gavel to incoming Chief Judge Alex Kozinski. Schroeder, 66, was elevated to chief judge in Dec. 2000. She will turn over the leadership of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to Kozinski during a San Francisco ceremony on her final official day in the job. During her seven-year tenure, Schroeder beat back attempts in Congress to split the circuit and streamlined administration of a whopping 600% increase in immigration appeals. From the outset of her tenure, Schroeder focused on developing health and wellness programs for judges around the circuit to deal with issues that might affect the conduct of proceedings, from substance abuse, age-related dementia or other health complications. Schroeder also faced her share of criticism for the handling of the judicial discipline case against Los Angeles federal Judge Manuel Real, which is still pending. President Jimmy Carter appointed Schroeder, who is based in Phoenix. Kozinski, 57, will become the 10th chief judge of the circuit since Congress created the position in 1948. He will preside over administrative affairs of the court as chief judge and sit on all en banc reviews. In addition, the chief judge represents the 9th Circuit at the meetings of the Judicial Conference of the U.S., the judiciary’s national policy-making body. He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1985 and has spent 22 years on the court. Elevation to chief judge is based on a combination of age and seniority on the court.

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