From Father to Son, a Generational Shift in Judicial Demeanor

, The Recorder


Judge William Orrick III may have assumed his father's former seat on the Northern District bench, but he's breaking from family precedent.

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What's being said

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    I read with great interest Julia Love’s story on Judge William Orrick III and the stylistic differences between he and his father, the late Hon. William H. Orrick Jr. I practiced with Orrick the Younger for a couple of years in the early 1980’s, shortly after completing a one year clerkship with Orrick the Elder. What struck me most about both men was their integrity and their profound respect and sense of responsibility to their position and profession. As for Orrick the Elder’s famous temper, certainly it existed and was occasionally on display. But there was more than a little method to his madness. Unlike almost all of his colleagues, Judge Orrick didn’t refer discovery disputes to a Magistrate Judge. Rather, on law and motion day he would ask his clerks to select a particularly egregious or petty dispute and put it first on the calendar. Then, in front of a courtroom full of lawyers, he would call the first matter and rip into both counsel for wasting the court’s time with such nonsense. As his tirade built in intensity, pairs of lawyers would rise, retire to the hallway, and return to take their suddenly resolved motions off-calendar. His diatribe complete, the judge would dismiss the unfortunate attorneys and, looking over at his clerks, smile and wink. Richard Abramson, GC, SRI International

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    I will add a voice to the gentler side of Judge Orrick, Jr. As a female litigator, I too, was concerned about ever asking the judge for a trial continuance. But, some 19 years ago, 8 months pregnant, I appeared before Judge Orrick, asking for a continuance because my due date was when the trial was set to start. He responded, very sternly, "well, Ms. Noma, you have been in my courtroom several times and you know that I rarely grant continuances [pause] but under the circumstances, when you do you think you‘d be ready to proceed?" This is a very heartwarming memory that I have of Judge Orrick and his acceptance and understanding of the mothers-to-be who are litigators. Christine Noma, (Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean)

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