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Will Judge Lucy 'You Must Be Smoking Crack' Koh Join the 9th Cir?

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. | Last updated on

The Ninth Circuit may soon be getting a new judge and it is likely to be Northern District of California Judge Lucy Koh, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Judge Koh, who we once dubbed the "most powerful woman in Silicon Valley," is best known for presiding over the Apple v. Samsung trial, where she won over our hearts by slapping down Apple's request for additional witnesses by asking its attorney if he was smoking crack. (He wasn't.)

Now she may get to dish out the smack from an even higher bench. Here's what you should know about Koh.

Up to the Ninth Circuit?

For several years, Judge Koh has been one of the most important judges in Silicon Valley, if not all of California, and is often the de facto adjudicator in high profile tech disputes. It's not just the Apple and Samsung patent litigation, either. She's overseen the LinkedIn class action over "hacked" email accounts, tech anti-trust and anti-poaching litigation, and Google privacy suits.

Before moving to the bench, Koh got her J.D. from Harvard Law and worked in the federal government, first on the Senate's Committee on the Judiciary as a Women's Law and Public Policy Fellow, then with the Department of Justice and Attorney General's office, where she severed as an AUSA for three years. From 2000 to 2008, Koh was in private practice in Silicon Valley, representing tech companies in patent and IP litigation, until she was appointed to the California Superior Court in 2008 and U.S. district court in 2010.

She's earned a reputation as a no-nonsense jurist, rejecting sweetheart settlements and putting lawyers in their place when needed. In Apple v. Samsung, for example, Koh allowed each side 25 hours to make their case. When Apple proposed calling 20 extra witnesses in the trials final hours, Koh responded:

I am not going to be running around trying to get 75 pages of briefings for people who are not going to be testifying ... I mean come on. 75 pages! 75 pages! You want me to do an order on 75 pages, (and) unless you're smoking crack, you know these witnesses aren't going to be called when you have less than four hours.

Require Reading

If you need to brush up on Judge Koh's greatest hits, FindLaw has got you covered. Here's our top five Koh-related posts:

Don't Get Too Excited Yet

It bears mentioning that Koh's nomination is not yet official. Nor will it be easy for her to get through a Republican-controlled Senate during an election year. "I think the likelihood of an Obama nominee to the 9th Circuit getting through the Senate in this election year is close to zero," Arthur Hellman, a University of Pittsburgh law professor, told the San Jose Mercury News. But if anyone can do it, it's Koh.

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