|Susan Y. Illston|
|Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California|
July 1, 2013
|Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California|
May 26, 1995 – July 1, 2013
|Appointed by||Bill Clinton|
|Preceded by||Barbara A. Caulfield|
|Succeeded by||Vince Chhabria|
|Born||1948 (age 66–67)
|Alma mater||Duke University
Stanford Law School
Susan Yvonne Illston (born 1948) is a San Francisco, California-based Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, which lies within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Notable cases
- 3 Publications
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Illston was born in Tokyo, Japan, was raised in the military and attended Fort Knox High School. She is a graduate of Duke University (B.A., 1970) and Stanford Law School (J.D., 1973).1 Prior to her appointment, Illston served in private practice first as an associate, then as a partner at Cotchett, Illston & Pitre in Burlingame, California from 1973 to 1995.2
On the recommendations of Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, Illston was nominated by President Bill Clinton on January 23, 1995 and confirmed by the Senate on May 25, 1995 by voice vote, receiving her commission the following day.34 She took senior status on July 1, 2013.
Sitting by designation of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in 1999 Judge Illston wrote the panel decision in DiLoreto v. Downey Unified School District Board of Education, 196 F.3d 958 (9th Cir. 1999), cert. denied, 529 U.S. 1067 (2000), which held that an athletic fence which a public high school made available for commercial advertising is a nonpublic forum from which religious messages could be excluded without violating the first amendment.5
In February 2004, Illston ruled in 321 Studios v. Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios, Inc. that the company's software, which was intended, according to the company, to allow consumers to make backup copies of DVDs by "circumventing" so-called "copy protection" methods, was illegal under Federal law. She issued an injunction at the behest of several Hollywood studios and ordered 321 Studios to stop selling their product. However, despite finding that the software violated Federal law, she ruled that copies made by consumers (of their own legally purchased DVDs) were, in fact, legal. She wrote in her opinion, "It is the technology itself at issue, not the uses to which the copyrighted material may be put...Legal downstream use of the copyrighted material by customers is not a defense to the software manufacturer's violation of the provisions [of copyright law]."6
In October 2009, Illston ruled in favor of environmental groups that sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over a 5,000 mile expansion of off-roading trails in California's Mojave Desert. Illston found that the BLM had violated its own regulations10 when it designated the routes in 200611 without adequately analyzing the impacts on air quality, soils, plant communities and sensitive species such as the endangered Mojave fringe-toed lizard. Illston called the BLM's plan "flawed because it does not contain a reasonable range of alternatives" to limit damage to sensitive habitat and pointed out that the desert and its resources are "extremely fragile, easily scarred, and slowly healed."12 The court also found that the BLM had failed to follow route restrictions established in the agency’s own conservation plan, resulting in the establishment of hundreds of illegal off roading routes during the past three decades.10 Illston ruled that the plan specifically violated the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA).11
Currently[update], Illston is the presiding judge in Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC v. George Hotz, et al.,13 in which Sony claims that Hotz's jailbreaking of the Sony PlayStation 3 violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.14 She has granted Sony permission to track as much information as possible about those who had seen a private YouTube video about the jailbreak and to read their comments, plus obtain access to IP addresses, accounts, and other details of visitors to sites run by Geohot. The access granted by Illston extends even to those who had not downloaded the jailbreak code.15
In a ruling released on March 15, 2013, Judge Illston granted 16 petitioner's motion to set aside a National Security Letter (NSL), ruling that the NSL's nondisclosure and judicial review provisions suffer from significant Constitutional infirmities. The petitioner argued that the nondisclosure provision of statute 18 U.S.C. § 2709(c) 17 is an unconstitutional prior restraint and content-based restriction on speech. The decision came in a lawsuit challenging a NSL on behalf of an unnamed telecommunications company represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).18 The judge stayed her decision for 90 days to give the government the opportunity to appeal.1920
- California Complex Litigation Manual (1990)
- Insurance Coverage in a Toxic Tort Case, A Guide to Toxic Torts (1987)
- "Honorable Susan Illston" (PDF). American Bar Association. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- "Judgepedia Susan Illston". Judgepedia. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
- Presidential Nominations - THOMAS (Library of Congress)
- 196 F3d 958 Edward Diloreto v. Downey Unified School District Board of Education | OpenJurist
- Judge: DVD-copying software is illegal Cnet, accessed 24 AUG 2008
- Man who concocted 'the clear' gets 3 months in prison - Associated Press, 8/4/06
- Thomas, Katie (2009-02-27). "Judge in Bonds Case Has Reputation as Quick Study". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-24.
- Egelko, Bob (2009-04-09). "Students disciplined for praying can sue". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- Mojave’s Off-Highway Roads Found Illegal
- Judge rejects federal plan for SoCal desert routes
- Judge rejects U.S. management plan for California desert
- Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC v. George Hotz, et al., No. C-11-00167 SI (N.D. Cal. filed Jan. 11, 2011)
- David, Kravets (February 7, 2011). "Sony Lawyers Expand Dragnet, Targeting Anybody Posting PlayStation 3 Hack". Wired. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
- "Judge in PS3 case lets Sony track visitors to Geohot website". electronista. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
- NSL Order Scribd, accessed 1 SEP 2013
- Court Finds NSL Statutes Violate First Amendment and Separation of Powers EFF, accessed 1 SEP 2013
- In re National Security Letter
- Ruling against key Patriot Act provision a setback for the FBI
- Susan Illston at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
- Federal Judicial Center Profile
- Judge Illston's webpage at the United States District Court for the Northern District of California
- Illston Profile on Judgepedia