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Ronald Whyte

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Ronald Whyte
Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the Northern District of California
Title:   Senior Judge
Position:   Seat #13
Appointed by:   George H.W. Bush
Active:   2/10/1992 - 3/2/2009
Senior:   3/2/2009 - Present
Preceded by:   104 Stat. 5089
Succeeded by:   Lucy H. Koh
Personal History
Born:   1942
Hometown:   Pomona, CA
Undergraduate:   Wesleyan University, 1964
Law School:   University of Southern California Law School, 1967
Military service:   U.S. Navy 1968 - 1971 JAG Corps

Ronald M. Whyte is a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. He joined the court in 1992 after being nominated by President George H.W. Bush. He is serving on senior status.[1]


Whyte graduated from Wesleyan University with his bachelor's degree in 1964 and later graduated from the University of Southern California Law School with his J.D. degree in 1967.[1]

Military service

Whyte also served in the U.S. Navy JAG Corps from 1968 to 1971.[1]

Professional career

Whyte became a private practice attorney licensed in the State of California from 1967 to 1968 and 1971 to 1989. Whyte took a three year hiatus due to active duty military service from 1968 to 1971. In 1989, Whyte became a judge of the Superior Court of Santa Clara County, a position he served until joining the federal court in 1992.[1]

Judicial career

Northern District of California

Whyte was nominated by President George Bush on July 26, 1991, to a new seat created by 104 Stat. 5089. Whyte was confirmed by the Senate on February 6, 1992, on unanimous consent and received commission on February 10, 1992.[2]

Notable cases

Animal right protest case (2009-2010)

     United States District Court for the Northern District of California (United States v. Buddenberg, CR-09-00263 RMW)

Judge Whyte on July 13, 2009 heard arguments on whether a 2006 law designed to stem violent animal rights protests is unconstitutional. This was seen by legal experts as the nation's first legal showdown involving a Justice Department crackdown on activists accused of threats against medical researchers and others.[3] Judge Whyte considered the legal challenge in regards to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which was invoked for the first time. Earlier this year, a grand jury indictment was issued against four activists charged with threats and vandalism against University of California medical researchers in Santa Cruz and Berkeley.[3] Civil liberties groups and lawyers for the defendants argued during their court session that the animal terrorism law is unconstitutional. The legal team representing the defendants says that the law is too broad on the claim of legitimate free speech and the vagueness of the law puts citizens in a position cannot determine if they're committing a crime.[3] In response, Justice Department lawyers defend the constitutionality of the law, saying it applies to "criminal conduct, not protected speech".[3]

Congress enacted the legislation in 2006, in large part pushed by Democratic California Senator Dianne Feinstien in response to violent protests held at California research facilities. Those incidents included a string of attacks at UC-San Francisco between 2001 and 2005, and a 2003 bombing at two bio-tech firms in California.[3] During the hearing on July 13, 2009 Judge Whyte suggested that the 2006 Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act may be legally vulnerable, but also casted doubts about whether the current lawsuit has standing to take on the law in its entirety.[4] Federal prosecutors are asked Judge Whyte to uphold the law claiming that threats made by the four defendants are not protected speech on the basis of Supreme Court precedents. However, lawyers for the four defendants dismissed the law as a "regulation of ideas."[4] On July 12, 2010, Judge Whyte dismissed the charges against the four activists involved.[5]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
NA-New Seat
Northern District of California
Seat #13
Succeeded by:
Lucy H. Koh

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