Chief Judge James Ware says he’ll be stepping down in August and not just as chief, but possibly to retire from the bench to work in private mediation, according to a Daily Journal account.
Ware has been chief just 16 months and if he leaves in August would have served in the court’s top administrative job less than two years. Normally, chief judge terms last up to seven years.
He will be succeeded by Judge Claudia A. Wilken of Oakland. The chief judge job is determined on the basis of judicial seniority and age.
Ware, 65, told the Daily Journal he’s been in touch with JAMS about a job and is considering a mediation service in Hong Kong but has made no decisions.
Ware’s bombshell announcement came to colleagues at the Northern District’s judicial conference in Monterey on Saturday.
His departure will open another vacancy on the court to be filled by presidential appointment. Four other openings exist on the court with the exit of Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who retired to go into private mediation in Jan. 2011. Judge Jeremy Fogel headed to Washington to direct the Federal Judicial Center for three years. Judges Charles Breyer and Saundra Armstrong also took senior status, opening seats on the court. Both Breyer and Armstrong continue to work on the court but with slightly reduced caseloads.
In addition, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel retired from the bench earlier this year, although she took senior status in 2009 and her judgeship was filled by Judge Edward Davila.
For a look at all the judicial vacancies around the country and appointees selected to fill them, check here.