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Marilyn Hall Patel
|Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California|
October 30, 2009 – September 30, 2012
|Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California|
|Preceded by||Thelton Henderson|
|Succeeded by||Vaughn Walker|
|Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California|
June 30, 1980 – October 30, 2009
|Appointed by||Jimmy Carter|
|Preceded by||Seat established by 71 Stat. 586|
|Succeeded by||Edward J. Davila|
1938 (age 80–81)
Amsterdam, New York
|Education||Wheaton College (B.A.)|
Fordham University School of Law (J.D.)
Marilyn Hall Patel (born 1938) is a former United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
Patel was born Marilyn Hall in 1938, in Amsterdam, New York. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1959 from Wheaton College and a Juris Doctor in 1963 from Fordham University School of Law. She served in private practice in New York City from 1963 to 1967. She was an attorney with the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the United States Department of Justice in San Francisco, California from 1967 to 1971. She served in private practice in San Francisco from 1971 to 1976. During this time she served as counsel for the National Organization for Women and was a member of the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund's Board of Directors. She was an adjunct professor of law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law from 1974 to 1976. She was a judge of the Oakland-Piedmont Municipal Court in California from 1976 to 1980.
Patel was nominated by President Jimmy Carter on May 9, 1980, to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, to a new seat authorized by 71 Stat. 586. She was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 26, 1980, and received her commission on June 30, 1980. She served as Chief Judge from 1997 to 2004. Patel was both the first female judge and first female Chief Judge of the district. She assumed senior status on October 30, 2009. Her service terminated on September 30, 2012, due to her retirement.
In a 1987 suit brought against the Fire Department of San Francisco (in which Patel harshly criticized the department), she issued a consent decree that enforced equal access to employment and advancement at the SFFD. In addition to clarifying the department's responsibilities with regard to the race of applicants, the decree ensured access for women to front-line firefighter roles.
In a 1999 ruling, Patel found that the layout of Macy's department stores violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, forcing the chain to significantly widen the aisles between merchandise. Many other retailers in other jurisdictions followed suit.
In 2003 she overturned the double murder conviction of Foster City, California native Glen William "Buddy" Nickerson. Nickerson had spent nineteen years on death row at San Quentin State Prison before new witnesses and evidence of police misconduct came to light. Ruling, Patel said it was "more probable than not" that Nickerson was innocent.
Patel dismissed a 2005 suit brought by San Franciscan Wayne Ritchie against the US Government in which he alleged he had been harmed by the covert administration of LSD as part of the MKULTRA program.
Patel determined that California's method of execution by lethal cyanide gas violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishments" after privately viewing a recording of the execution of Robert Alton Harris. Her colleague, Judge Jeremy Fogel, has considered the constitutionality of California's lethal-injection protocol in a few cases, most notably Morales v. Tilton.
Patel's decisions in 2008 included one for the plaintiffs in Okinawa Dugong v. Gates/Okinawa Dugong v. Rumsfeld, in which an environmental group sought to prevent the construction of a military runway on the island of Okinawa, citing the hazard this may pose to the okinawa dugong, a relative of the manatee and an endangered marine mammal.
In 2007 and 2008, Patel reviewed the standards employed by the Oakland Police Department for public strip and body cavity searches. Patel ruled that the O.P.D.'s policy permitting such searches in cases of reasonable suspicion was unconstitutionally low, permitting future searches only where there is probable cause—the same standard required to arrest suspects.
Seat established by 71 Stat. 586
| Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California
Edward J. Davila
| Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California