Claudia Wilken

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Claudia Wilken
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Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the Northern District of California
Title:   Chief Judge
Position:   Seat #14
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Active:   11/22/1993 - Present
Chief:   8/31/2012 - Present
Preceded by:   104 Stat. 5089
Personal History
Born:   1949
Hometown:   Minneapolis, MN
Undergraduate:   Stanford U., B.A., 1971
Law School:   U. of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, J.D., 1975

Claudia Ann Wilken is an Article III federal judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. She joined the court in 1993 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton. She became the chief judge of the court on August 31, 2012. Wilken plans to assume senior status at the end of 2014.[1]

Early life and education

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Wilken graduated from Stanford University with her bachelor's degree in 1971 and received her J.D. from the University of California-Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law in 1975.[2]

Professional career

Wilken was a Staff Attorney for the Federal Public Defender's Office for the Northern District of California from 1975 to 1978 before entering private practice in the State of California from until 1984. Wilken served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of California Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law from 1978 to 1984 and also taught as a Professor at the New College School of Law from 1980 to 1985.[2]

Judicial career

Northern District of California

Wilken was a federal magistrate judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California from 1983 to 1993.[2] Wilken was nominated to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California by President Bill Clinton on October 7, 1993 to a new seat created by 104 Stat. 5089, which was approved by Congress. Wilken was confirmed by the Senate on November 20, 1993 on a Senate vote and received commission on November 22, 1993.[3] Wilken plans to take senior status at the end of 2014.[1]

Notable cases

NCAA moves for summary judgment in student-athlete class action suit (2013)

  United States District Court for the Northern District of California
     *In re NCAA Student-Athlete Name & Likeness Licensing Litigation 09-CV-1967-CW
In an ongoing case filed in 2009 against the NCAA by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon, college student-athletes alleged that while the organization uses their images for its own profit, the athletes themselves are prohibited from being paid for their efforts. In October 2013, Judge Wilken refused to dismiss the student-athletes' complaint. In November 2013, Wilken partially certified a class of athletes who sought an injunction against the NCAA's policy, noting that without an injunction, "all class members - including both current and former student-athletes - would potentially be subject to ongoing antitrust harms resulting from the continued unauthorized use of their names, images, and likenesses." Shortly thereafter, the O'Bannon plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment, requesting that Wilken issue a decision in their favor without a trial. In December 2013, the NCAA filed a counter-motion for summary judgment, arguing that participation in college sports cannot be likened to "exploitation" because student-athletes derive many benefits from it (e.g., admissions, scholarships, et cetera). Wilken has not yet issued a ruling on either of the summary judgment motions filed.[4][5][6]

California IHSS cuts blocked (2013)

  United States District Court for the Northern District of California
     *David Oster et al. v. Lightbourne : C 09-02306 CW
Judge Wilken, on October 19, 2009, issued a order to the State of California to halt cuts to the In-Home Supportive Services program that were scheduled to take effect on November 1, 2009. The judge found the state's timing towards the cuts gave too little notice to care providers and recipients of the IHSS program and did not give a proper framework for appeals.[7] In March of 2013, a settlement was reached that reduced the cuts.[8]

EA Sports copyright (2010-2013)

  United States District Court for the Northern District of California
     *Keller v. Electronic Arts 10-15387
Judge Wilken presided in the highly publicized case involving Electronic Arts franchise EA Sports. The well known brand was being sued over the likeness of college athletes used in video games like NCAA Football 2010. The suit was on track to qualify for class-action status after three years on ongoing litigation.[9]

The athletes sued the technology company over unfairly using the likenesses of college athletes in its games without compensation.[10] In response to emails suggesting that EA Sports does use actual athletes' likenesses, a spokesman said, "Discovery and the plaintiffs' own depositions clearly indicate that the NCAA never marketed student-athlete likeness nor prohibited student-athletes from profiting from their likeness when their eligibility was completed."[9][11]

In July of 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, 2-1, a ruling that stated EA Sports was not protected under the First Amendment. The court found that EA did not prove that their game was "sufficiently transformative" to be protected speech.[12]

Domestic Partnership CalPERS case (2012)

  United States District Court for the Northern District of California
Judge Wilken twice denied government motions to dismiss a lawsuit against California's insurance program CalPERS and its long term care program. The lawsuit was filed by three gay and lesbian couples and included not only CalPERS but also the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service. The lawsuit aimed to invalidate CalPERS policy on gay and lesbian couples and domestic partnerships that barred them from access to the insurance providers long term care program. Wilkin justified her decision, writing, "Although the Supreme Court has not established that sexual orientation is a suspect or quasi-suspect class for purposes of the equal protection doctrine, it held in Romer [v. Evans] that gays and lesbians, as a class, are at least protected from burdensome legislation that is the product of sheer anti-gay animus and devoid of any legitimate government purpose." The lawsuit targeted government policy within the IRS and the Treasury Department which prevented access to benefits for same sex couples, including the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which the Obama administration announced that it will no longer defend because it deemed it unconstitutional.[13] Judge Wilken, ruled that the CalPERS policy on gay and lesbian couples was unconstitutional in May of 2012. The case was appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.[14]

Home Care Wage Hold Injunction Clarification (2009)

  United States District Court for the Northern District of California
     *Martinez v. Schwarzenegger USDC, NDCA Case No. C-09-02306 CW (NDCA, July, 2009)
In June of 2009 Judge Wilken blocked a $2-an-hour wage cut for tens of thousands of in-home care workers for elderly and disabled Californians which was ordered by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.[15] Schwarzenegger cited this as an example of federal judges interfering with the rights of California to rule itself.[16] However, some parts of the California government blocked Wilken's order and on July 13, 2009 Wilken re-ordered state officials to remove procedural obstacles immediately. Counties that include Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Napa, Solano, and Yolo were affected by the plan that temporarily reduced pay for sixty days.[15] The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the Schwarzenegger administration's request for a stay of Judge Wilken's decision on July 14, 2009.[15]

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 SF Gate, "U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken to step down," March 8, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Judge Wilken Biography at the Federal Judicial Center
  3. "THOMAS" Claudia Wilken USDC, NDCA confirmation: PN715-103
  4. Courthouse News Service, "Image-Rights Kerfuffle Heats Up for NCAA," October 29, 2013
  5. USA Today, "NCAA asks judge for O'Bannon case decision without trial," December 13, 2013
  6. Courthouse News Service, "No Pay for College Athletes, NCAA Says," December 16, 2013
  7. "San Jose Mercury News" Federal judge halts IHSS cuts, October 20, 2009
  8. CANHR, "Settlement of IHSS Lawsuit will Prevent Devastating Cuts to Home Care Services," accessed September 4, 2013
  9. 9.0 9.1, "NCAA knew EA Sports video games used real players, e-mails from Ed O'Bannon lawsuit show," November 12, 2012
  10. Associated Press Retired NFL players seek to join EA lawsuit, September 28, 2009
  11. The Canadian Press "U.S. federal judge OK's former UCLA player's lawsuit against the NCAA," February 9, 2010
  12. Lexology, "Keller v. Electronic Arts Inc.," August 9, 2013
  13. Courthouse News Service, "Gay California Couples Advance in Benefits Suit," January 30, 2012
  14. Equality on Trial, "DOMA: Federal defendants appeal Dragovich v. US Dept. of Treasury to Ninth Circuit," July 24, 2012
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 "San Francisco Chronicle" Judge says state thwarting in-home care ruling, July 14, 2009
  16. Sacramento Bee "Governor blames budget woes on judges 'going absolutely crazy'," October 22, 2009
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Preceded by:
NA-New Seat
Northern District of California
Seat #14
Succeeded by:

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