U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Illman
U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Illman (Courtesy photo)

SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Friday announced the selection of a new magistrate judge to handle cases in its Eureka division.

Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas, who has presided over cases in both Eureka and the Bay Area since his appointment in 2004, will be retiring in November, the court said in a release. Filling his shoes will be Robert Illman, who currently serves as a law clerk to Vadas.

In contrast to Vadas, who was a prosecutor at the district attorney’s office in Humboldt County before taking the bench, Illman previously practiced law as an assistant federal public defender, representing poor clients in Montgomery, Alabama.

Illman also spent seven years as a law clerk to Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama in Montgomery. Illman attended law school at the University of Alabama School of Law in Tuscaloosa, according to the release.

All new criminal and civil actions arising in the counties surrounding Eureka—Del Norte, Lake, Humboldt and Mendocino—are assigned to the magistrate judge at the division. The Eureka Division has only one sitting magistrate judge and no Article III judges.

Vadas, 64, was appointed in 2004 at a time of a climbing caseload for the Eureka Division, which is located about a five hours’ drive north from San Francisco. He initiated an early settlement program for civil rights cases brought by pro se California prisoners housed at Pelican Bay State Prison. The program was later expanded to all state prisons in the Northern District and some in the Eastern District of California, according to the court’s website.

Contact Ben Hancock at bhancock@alm.com. On Twitter: @benghancock.