Press Releases

Washington—U. S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today introduced two judges during a committee confirmation hearing: Beth Freeman and James Donato. Both were recommended to the White House by Feinstein for District Court seats in California’s Northern District.

Feinstein’s remarks as delivered follow:

“Thank you very much, Senator Whitehouse, and thank you for the very nice comments.

I’d like to speak very briefly on two distinguished nominees to serve on the Northern district of California.

I think as most people know, the way I do these judgeships is that we have a bipartisan screening committee of attorneys on both sides, Democrat and Republican, in the state and people submit their applications directly to these screening committees.

They screen, they vet, and they make a recommendation to me. And that’s how both of these nominees came about. Each one of them would fill a longtime judicial emergency vacancy on the Northern District of California, which has a caseload that is actually 24 percent above the nation’s average.

Let me begin with Judge Beth Freeman, who is sitting on the first row on my right. It’s my understanding that her husband William, her brother-in-law David, and her other family members and friends are here to support her today, and I’d like to take the opportunity to say welcome to the heat and warmer weather in Washington.

Judge Freeman graduated from University of California at Berkeley in 1976 and Harvard Law School in 1979.

She spent four years in private practice at two law firms, after which she began a career in public service by joining the San Mateo County Counsel’s Office.

She served as Deputy County Counsel for 18 years, from 1983 to 2001, representing county agencies and school districts in state and federal courts. In the County Counsel’s Office, she tried more than 200 cases.

In 2001, she was appointed to the San Mateo Superior Court by the then-Governor. She has presided over more than 1,000 trials, including over 150 jury trials, and she has substantial experience hearing both civil and criminal cases.

She has earned the deep respect of her colleagues, who elected her assistant presiding judge in 2008 and presiding judge in 2010. And, in the interest of full disclosure, my daughter called me last night and said, “I hope you’re nice to my friend, Judge Freeman.” My daughter is newly retired as the presiding judge in San Francisco.

Throughout 2011 and 2012, she led the San Mateo Court as presiding judge while deep judicial budget cuts were forcing severe cuts in judicial services, including courtroom closures and furloughs all across the state of California.

She is active in her community. She has served as president, director and secretary of the Junior Statesmen Foundation. She’s also served as President of Peninsula Temple Beth El.

I believe Judge Freeman will make an outstanding addition to the federal bench in San Jose.

Now let me now turn to Jim Donato. His wife Rhonda and his daughter Isabella are here today and I want to welcome them as well. I saw your smile so I figured out who you are.

Jim Donato earned his B.A. also from U.C. Berkeley in 1983, his Master’s also from Harvard in 1984 and his law degree from Stanford in 1988. Obviously, Stanford is preferable. He was a senior editor of the Stanford Law Review.

Following law school, he clerked for Judge Procter Hug on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In 1990, he joined the law firm Morrison & Foerster, where he worked as an associate from 1990 to 1993.

He then joined the city attorney’s office in San Francisco, where he served from 1993 to 1996 as a deputy city attorney in the trial division.

In this role, Mr. Donato was responsible for defending San Francisco and its employees against civil claims, including Section 1983 claims against police officers.

In 1996, Mr. Donato returned to private practice, joining the law firm Cooley LLP where he ultimately became a partner. In 2009, he joined the law firm Shearman & Sterling LLP as a partner.

His work in private practice has focused on civil litigation in a variety of complex fields including antitrust, unfair competition, trademark and copyright law.

He has been trial counsel in 10 cases including a recent federal antitrust case.

Mr. Donato has published several articles on topics related to business litigation, including antitrust law, electronic discovery and class action trials.

Mr. Donato has also given back to the legal profession, serving with the Bar Association of San Francisco for many years, including as president in 2008.

He has been named a Northern California “Super Lawyer” every year since 2004, and he has been an elected member of the American Law Institute since 2000.

He also is involved in his community, serving on the Parish Council of Newman Hall Holy Spirit Parish at U.C. Berkeley and as a director of the Berkeley Symphony.

I believe that Jim Donato’s education, experience and background in complex civil cases will be a great credit to the bench in Northern California, which has a docket where 85 percent of the cases filed are civil cases.

Let me conclude by saying that these two outstanding nominees will bring strong qualifications and experience to two judicial-emergency vacant positions in the Northern District.

I hope the chairman here, as well as the distinguished ranking member of this committee, will see fit to move them on as rapidly as possible. I thank you for your courtesy, Senator Whitehouse.”