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Judge Charles R. Breyer Selected to Receive Prestigious Devitt Award

September 24, 2018 / Ninth Circuit Public Information Office

Senior District Judge Charles R. Breyer of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California has been selected to receive the prestigious 34th Annual Devitt Award, our nation’s highest honor bestowed upon an Article III federal judge. The award will be presented at a ceremony to take place at the U.S. Supreme Court on November 7, 2018.

Judge Breyer was notified of the award last week by way of a phone call from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who chaired the selection committee. In a later statement, Justice Kennedy said, “The committee noted that in addition to his nationwide reputation as being a skilled and fine trial judge, he has contributed to the judiciary in many ways including being on the panel for multi-district litigation and on the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

“Most important of all is the great respect that Judge Breyer enjoys among his own colleagues, members of the bar and the community at large. He honors us all by his continued commitment to the Rule of Law and the Constitution that it sustains,” said Justice Kennedy.

In acknowledging the honor, Judge Breyer made note of his fellow judges.

“I feel very privileged to have worked with so many selfless and dedicated colleagues over the past two decades. Their work in promoting the Rule of Law is the true award,” Judge Breyer said.

Judge Breyer, 76, was appointed to the Northern District bench in 1997 by President Clinton. He assumed senior status in 2011 but continues to regularly hear cases and perform other duties.

Active in judicial governance, Judge Breyer has served on the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit, governing body for federal courts in the western states, and as the federal district judge representative to the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference of the U.S., the national governing body for federal courts. In 2013, he became the first federal judge from the Ninth Circuit to sit on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent body within the judiciary responsible for developing guidelines that prescribe a range of sentences to apply in criminal cases. He stepped down from the commission in 2017 and is currently serving on the JCUS Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, which determines the venue for litigation spanning multiple federal jurisdictions.

Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Breyer was in private practice in San Francisco since 1974. He served as an assistant special prosecutor for the Watergate Special Prosecution Force at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., from 1973 to 1974, and as an assistant district attorney for the City and County of San Francisco, from 1967 to 1973, then as chief assistant in 1979.

A native of San Francisco, Judge Breyer received his A.B. from Harvard College in 1963 and his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, in 1966. He clerked for Judge Oliver J. Carter of the Northern District of California from 1966 to 1967. Judge Breyer is the brother of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer.

Click here to read the news release from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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