Northern District Practice Program
Fall Symposium Bios

Keynote Speakers

Hon. Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr., U.S. District Court, Northern District of California

Judge Gilliam was appointed by President Obama on September 8, 2014, and received his commission on December 19, 2014.  Judge Gilliam graduated magna cum laude from Yale College in 1991, and received his J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1994.  After law school, Judge Gilliam clerked for the Honorable Thelton E. Henderson, then the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Judge Gilliam and the Honorable Kandis Westmore preside over the Oakland venue of the Northern District’s Alternatives to Incarceration Program (ATIP) court.  ATIP provides qualifying defendants with a framework of supervision and services, with the goal of helping them learn from their mistakes, make better choices, engage in productive behavior, overcome substance abuse challenges, and reduce the risk of reoffending.  Participants who successfully complete the ATIP program generally receive a noncustodial sentence.

Judge Gilliam is the President of the board of directors of the Northern District Practice Program, which sponsors continuing legal education programs focused on informing attorneys of new and important developments in the law and providing practical guidance and skill-building opportunities.  He chairs the Northern District’s Community Outreach Committee, which focuses on building relationships with Bay Area communities and sharing information about the court’s work and the role of the federal judiciary, and he serves on the Ninth Circuit’s Public Information and Community Outreach Committee.  Judge Gilliam also serves on the Northern District’s Criminal Rules and Practice Committee. 

Judge Gilliam was in private law practice from 1995 to 1998 and worked at the U.S. Attorney’s San Francisco Office from 1999 to 2006, ultimately serving as Chief of the Securities Fraud Section, before returning to private practice.  Before his appointment, Judge Gilliam’s law practice focused on white collar criminal and regulatory matters and internal investigations.

Hon. Thelton E. Henderson, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (ret.)

The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson (Ret.) was appointed to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.  After serving as Chief Judge of the district from 1990 to 1997, he assumed senior status in 1997 and inactive status in 2017.  Among his many notable cases, Judge Henderson oversaw institutional reform of the special education system in East Palo Alto’s Ravenswood City School District; the Oakland Police Department; conditions at Pelican Bay State Prison; and inmate medical care throughout the California prison system.

Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Henderson began his legal career in 1962 with the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, serving as the first African American attorney in that role and prosecuting voting rights cases in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.  He later served as a legal aid lawyer, and was one of the founding partners of a law firm specializing in civil rights, civil liberties and constitutional law.  He also served as an associate professor at Golden Gate University School of Law and an assistant dean at Stanford Law School, where he developed a program to increase minority admissions.

Among his many honors are the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award, the State Bar of California’s Bernard E. Witkin Medal, the Pearlstein Civil Rights Award from the Anti-Defamation League, the Distinguished Service Award from the National Bar Association, the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Award for Professionalism and Ethics from the American Inns of Court, and the Judge Learned Hand Award from the American Jewish Committee.

Since his retirement from the bench, Judge Henderson has served as a Visiting Professor of Law at his alma mater, Berkeley Law.  The law school renamed its Center for Social Justice – now the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice – in his honor in 2006. In August 2017, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California honored Judge Henderson by dedicating the Ceremonial Courtroom in the San Francisco Courthouse in his name.

Moderators and Panelists

Eva Almirantearena, V.P., Associate General Counsel, Intel Corp. 

Eva Almirantearena is Vice President, Associate General Counsel, Antitrust and Commercial Litigation at Intel Corporation.  Eva has been with Intel since 2004 handling a wide variety of matters, including antitrust litigation and investigations, commercial litigation and misappropriation of confidential information and trade secrets.  Eva is Intel Legal’s Diversity Leader, a member of Intel Legal’s Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee and leads Intel Legal’s Outside Counsel Diversity & Inclusion Program team.   She is also co-chair of Intel Legal’s Pro Bono Committee.  Prior to joining Intel, Eva was an antitrust partner at Howrey in Northern California and, before that, was a trial attorney at the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.

Hon. Mark W. Bennett, Northern District of Iowa (retired): Director, Drake Law School Institute for Justice Reform and Innovation

Mark W. Bennett retired after 24 years as a U.S. District Judge in the Northern District of Iowa to become the first Director of the Drake University Law School’s Institute for Justice Reform & Innovation. Bennett sentenced over 4000 defendants in 5 different districts. He has been a frequent critic of the U.S. Sentencing guidelines and the U.S. Sentencing Commission in both judicial decisions and over a dozen law review articles, and was the first judge in the nation to equalize the former 100-1 crack/powder ratio to a 1:1 ratio. In just two of his sentencing cases he was reversed 5 times by the 8th Circuit including 3 times by the en banc court. The U.S. Supreme Court then  reversed the 8th circuit in both Spears and Pepper and sided with Bennett. Before he retired he frequently sat by designation on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He is the author of 28 law review articles in the past 10 years.

Judge Rupert Byrdsong, Los Angeles Superior Court

Judge Rupert Byrdsong serves on unlimited jurisdiction civil trial calendar in the Los Angeles Superior Court.  He was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2014.  Prior to his service on the civil trial calendar, Judge Byrdsong was the first African American to serve in the Complex Civil department of the Los Angeles Superior Court.  Judge Byrdsong is active in the Langston Bar Association, the California Association of Black Lawyers, and a founding member of the Association of African American California Judicial Officers.  Prior to becoming a judge, Judge Byrdsong was an employment discrimination partner in the largest African American law firm in Los Angeles.  Judge Byrdsong is a proud graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Law and Morehouse College.

Anthony Castellano, Chief U.S. Probation Officer, Northern District of California

Tony Castellano was appointed Chief U.S. Probation Officer for the Northern District of California in August 2018. Prior to his appointment, he was the Chief U.S. Probation Officer for the Northern District of Florida from 2014 to 2018. Tony has 29 years of federal service and has participated in several federal judiciary roles as a facilitator as well as a trainer at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

Hon. Edward M. Chen, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California

Judge Chen is a 1979 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.  After clerking for U.S. District Judge Charles B. Renfrew and U.S. Court of Appeals Chief Judge James R. Browning, he practiced as a litigation associate with the law firm of Coblentz, Cahen, McCabe & Breyer.  He joined the legal staff of the ACLU Foundation of Northern California in 1985. 

From 2001 to 2011, Judge Chen served as a federal Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of California.  Judge Chen was first nominated by President Obama to the U.S. District Court on August 6, 2009 and was confirmed in May 2011.  In addition to his judicial duties, Judge Chen has participated and led judicial seminars on mediation, employment, intellectual property, civil rights, access to justice, case management, and conduct of virtual jury trial. 

Judge Danny Y. Chou, San Mateo County Superior Court

Judge Chou was appointed to the San Mateo County Superior Court in 2018. As a trial court judge, Judge Chou handles criminal and complex civil cases. Before joining the bench, Judge Chou was part of the trial and appellate teams that successfully challenged California’s bans on same sex marriage under both the California and United States Constitutions and the lead public trial and appellate counsel in a public nuisance action filed by multiple California cities and counties against lead paint manufacturers, which resulted in a $305 million settlement dedicated to the prevention of childhood lead poisoning.

Hon. Edward J. Davila, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California

Judge Davila graduated from Hasting College of the Law in 1979. He was a Deputy Public Defender, Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender from 1981-1988, and in private practice in San Jose from 1988 to 2001. California Governor Gray Davis appointed Judge Davila to the Superior Court of California for Santa Clara County in 2001, where he served until 2011.

During the 111th CongressSenator Barbara Boxer recommended Davila to fill the United States District Court for the Northern District of California vacancy created when Marilyn Hall Patel assumed senior status. On May 20, 2010, President Barack Obama formally nominated Davila to the Northern District of California.  The Senate Judiciary Committee recommended his confirmation on December 1, 2010, but the Senate decided to recess without confirming him. Obama renominated Davila on January 5, 2011. That nomination was approved by the Judiciary Committee on February 3, and he was confirmed by the Senate on February 14 by a vote of 93 ayes to 0 nays. He received his commission on March 3, 2011.

Dr. Alexis Forbes, Bonora Rountree Trial Consulting & Research

Dr. Alexis Forbes is an Associate Trial Consultant with Bonora Rountree Trial Consulting & Research, where she works on criminal matters and complex civil litigation including class action, antitrust, trade secret, employment, and patent cases. She specializes in pretrial research, questionnaire construction, and voir dire strategies. Since 2014, Dr. Forbes has served clients by deconstructing complex issues to produce communication that is clear, persuasive, and accurate.  Dr. Forbes’ survey development and statistical analysis experience spans 11 years. She’s a skilled statistician and research methodologist. Along with her technical writings skills, Dr. Forbes practices the art of making research accessible to non-academics and legal professionals. 

Dr. Forbes earned a Ph.D. in Psychology & Law from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York (CUNY).  Her publications and academic research focused on juror decision making, measuring the impact of gender and racial biases, and legal outcomes for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender individuals. She taught as an adjunct professor of Experimental Research Methods at John Jay College, and recently joined the Board of Directors for the American Society of Trial Consultants and serves as the Co-Chair of the Professional Education Committee.

Professor Sara Greene, Duke University School of Law

Professor Greene is a scholar at Duke University School of law.  Dr. Greene is one of the nation’s leading experts on access to justice, poverty law, bankruptcy, and housing law.  Dr. Greene’s research uses interdisciplinary methods to better understand the relationship between law and inequality.   She has published extensively and has upcoming research related to access to justice in the state of North Carolina.  One of her groundbreaking articles was Race, Class and Access to Civil Justice published by the Iowa Law Review in 2016.   Dr. Greene went to Yale Law School and also received a Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy from Harvard University. 

Hon. Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California

Judge Gonzalez Rogers is originally from Houston, Texas. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law. From 1991 until 2003 she was a litigator in the San Francisco office of Cooley LLP. Judge Gonzalez Rogers was elected to the American Law Institute in 1990 and was elected to the ALI Council in 2009. She chaired the ALI’s Membership Committee and served as an Adviser on ALI’s Principles of Election Law: Resolution of Election Disputes project. She served as a Judge Pro Tem in Alameda County, California from 2007 until 2008. In 2008 Governor Schwarzenegger appointed her to the Alameda County Superior Court, where she served until 2011.

President Obama nominated Judge Gonzalez Rogers to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in 2011. She received her commission on November 21, 2011.

Marissa Harris, Assistant United States Attorney, Northern District of California

Marissa Harris joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California in 2015 and prosecutes a wide variety of federal criminal matters, including human trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation, civil rights, intellectual property, and fraud offenses.  Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ms. Harris was a litigation associate at Morrison & Foerster in Washington, D.C. and worked pro bono on seminal women’s rights matters, including Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo, and Doe v. Wood County Board of Education.  Ms. Harris graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 2009 and earned her B.F.A. in Theatre and Journalism from New York University in 2005.

Jodi Linker, Assistant Federal Public Defender

Jodi Linker has been an Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Northern District of California since 2007. After graduating from UCLA, she served as legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer for nearly five years before attending Stanford Law School. Before becoming a public defender, she served as a law clerk to the Hon. Charles R. Breyer, an extern for the Hon. Susan Illston, and an associate at Clarence, Dyer & Cohen.

Mona Lynch, Ph.D., Dept. Chair and Prof. of Criminology, Law and Society, UC Irvine

Mona Lynch is Professor and Chair of Criminology, Law and Society with a courtesy appointment in the School of Law at the University of California, Irvine. Trained as a social psychologist, her current research focuses on charging, plea bargaining and sentencing practices in federal court, including on institutionalized forms of bias in the federal system. Funded by the National Institute of Justice, the National Science Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation, her research is published in a wide range of journals, law reviews, edited volumes, and books, including Sunbelt Justice: Arizona and the Transformation of American Punishment (2009), published with Stanford University Press and Hard Bargains: The Power to Punish in Federal Court (2016), with Russell Sage Foundation.

Hon. Donna M. Ryu, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California

Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu joined the Northern District bench in March 2010. Judge Ryu has served on numerous court committees, including Local Rules, Subcommittee on E-Discovery, and Pro Bono Projects. She also presides over the Oakland Reentry Court. Judge Ryu began her career as a commercial litigator at a large San Francisco firm before joining an Oakland-based firm specializing in class actions and litigation. Prior to taking the bench, Judge Ryu was a Clinical Professor of Law at U.C. Hastings and at Golden Gate University Law School.

Judge Ryu has been honored as a California Lawyer of the Year in Employment Law. She is the recipient of the Asian American Bar Association’s Joe Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy, the Rutter Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s Trailblazers Award. She co-designed a national training institute on class actions. Judge Ryu graduated with honors from Yale University, and received her law degree in from U.C. Berkeley Law School, where she continues to teach as a Lecturer.

Professor Jennifer Wriggins, University of Maine School of Law

Professor Wriggins is a scholar at University of Maine School of Law.  Professor Wriggins is a nationally recognized scholar whose work focuses on torts, health law, and family law with a frequent focus on race and gender. She set the tone for her research with her first published article, Rape, Racism and the Law (Harvard Women’s Law Journal, 1983), which has been reprinted in abridged form many times since its publication. A prolific researcher on issues of race, gender and the law, Professor Wriggins is also the author of The Measure of Injury: Race, Gender, and Tort Law (NYU Press 2010, co-authored with Professor Martha Chamallas of Ohio State University).  Professor Wriggins received her J.D. from Harvard University and her Bachelor’s degree from Yale College.

Justice Mary Yu, Washington Supreme Court

Mary Yu was appointed to the Washington Supreme Court on May 16, 2014, and subsequently elected in 2014 and 2016. Justice Yu joined the Supreme Court after more than 14 years as an accomplished trial court judge in King County Superior Court where she presided over a wide variety of criminal, civil, and juvenile cases, and presided over hundreds of adoptions and other family law matters.

Justice Yu has an extensive record of service both on and off the bench, mentoring young attorneys, law clerks, and students; co-chairing the Court’s Minority and Justice Commission; chairing the Board for Judicial Administration’s Public Trust and Confidence Committee; teaching at Seattle University School of Law and serving as Jurist in Residence; and co-chairing the Washington State Bar Association/University of Washington Law School Leadership Institute. Justice Yu has served on the board of FareStart from 2009 – 2018, and the advisory board for the University of Washington School of Law’s Gates Public Service Program from 2014 – 2018. She is personally devoted to the Seattle Girls’ School Mock Trials, serving as their judge for the last 14 years. Justice Yu is a member of the American Law Institute.