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Retired Prop 8 Judge Vaughn Walker Officially Out and Un-Recusable

Melanie Nathan- April 06, 2011

Retired Honorable Vaughn R. Walker, former chief judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, came out publicly about being a gay man, mentioning his Physician partner of 10 years.

During the Prop 8 trial , Right Wing commentators, anti- same-sex marriage supporters tenaciously rumbled about  the fact that former U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker is gay.  Now the Judge is speaking out for the first time  about how his sexuality relates to his work and  to state it simply – it does not!   Judge Walker’s comments were his first  since the historic and minefield of a case case was filed.

While some wondered whether the Republican nominated Judge’s sexual orientation would affect his decision making on the topic of Gay / same-sex Marriage in California, others believed such was a non issue and served only as a tactic to discredit the judicially astute Judge.

The U.S. judge who struck down California’s gay marriage ban never considered his own homosexuality as a reason to recuse himself from the case, he said on Wednesday.   Walker eventually struck down Prop 8 as unconstitutional, and the case is currently on appeal. Walker retired at the end of February, and he talked with a handful of reporters about issues like the Prop 8 case, cameras in the court, and his once-strained relationship with San Francisco’s gay community. (Reports Reuters)

It would not be appropriate for any judge’s sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin or gender to stop them from presiding over a case, he said. “That’s a very slippery slope,” Walker said.

Walker had never previously discussed his sexual orientation in the press, but on Wednesday said he was in a 10-year relationship with a physician.

A Midwesterner, Walker was born in 1944 in Watseka, Illinois, about 90 miles south of Chicago. He worked for years at one of San Francisco’s top law firms before being nominated to the federal bench in 1989 by George H.W. Bush.  Seated at a table in a charcoal suit with a white handkerchief, Walker remembered how the gay community had once vilified his nomination to the federal bench.

Walker has opened a law practice focusing on dispute management and resolution. This includes alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as well as counseling clients with respect to litigation risks, especially in protracted and complex litigation.

“The awareness of the complexities and increasingly multi-national character of legal disputes has prompted me to focus the next phase of my career on helping parties strike a path to practical management of these issues and resolutions” (Business Wire)

In his 21 years on the federal bench, Judge Walker presided over an estimated 8,000 cases, more than 250 jury and bench trials, numerous settlement conferences and sat by designation on the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the Federal Circuit. He was a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States Committee on Civil Rules, which promulgates procedural rules for the federal courts. Walker performed judicial training and education in many foreign countries under the auspices of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the U.S. Department of State.

Walker was known for his handling of complex, high-profile cases, in the fields of antitrust, copyright and patent law and in cases involving disputes over securities fraud, terrorist surveillance and same-sex marriage



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