Hon. Phyllis J. Hamilton See Rating Details
District Judge See Comments
N.D.Cal.  
Average Rating:3.1 - 18 rating(s)
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Ratings

*Temperament:   (1=Awful,10=Excellent)
*Scholarship:   (1=Awful,10=Excellent)
*Industriousness:   (1=Not at all industrious,10=Highly industrious)
*Ability to Handle Complex Litigation:    (1=Awful,10=Excellent)
*Punctuality:    (1=Chronic`y Late,10=Always on Time)
*Evenhandedness in Civil Litigation:    (1=Demonstrates Bias,10=Entirely Evenhanded)
*Evenhandedness in Criminal Litigation:   (1=Demonstrates Bias,10=Entirely Evenhanded)
Flexibility In Scheduling   (1=Completely Inflexible,10=Very Flexible)
General Inclination Regarding Bail (1=Pro-Defense,10=Pro-Government)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases, Pre-Trial:   (1=Pro-Defense,10=Pro-Government)
Involvement in Civil Settlement Discussions:   (1=Least Involved,10=Most Involved)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases, Trial:    (1=Pro-Defense,10=Pro-Government)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases, Sentencing:    (1=Most Lenient,10=Most Harsh)
Typical Discount Off Guidelines for Cooperators:    (1=10%,10=100%)
  Items marked with (*) are averaged into the displayed overall rating
Comments



What others have said about Hon. Phyllis J. Hamilton


Comments


Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 23304
Rating:1.0
Comments:
I have tried cases for more than 50 years, all over the country including civil rights cases in the Deep South. She is by far the worst judge I have ever appeared before. Not only is she dumb as a post but that is equaled by her abject vindictiveness. We got into it in a court appointed criminal case and I had the misfortune of having it assigned to her. We had constant fights with veiled (not so veiled) threats of contempt "we will deal with that at the conclusion of the trial". It got so bad that at one point I told her to adjourn the trial for a week, lock me up, then we could come back and finish the trial. "That way you will get the contempt out of your system and I can stop worrying about it as your constant threats are injuring my ability to defend my client". She was rather shocked to say the least and asked me if I were serious. I told her that a week away from my wife (now my ex-wife), an opportunity to get a good night's rest without emails from the prosecutor suddenly remembering a witness who she planned to call the next day, and my right to chose the tv shows since I planned to tell all my cellmates what they should suggest to their lawyers. I also told her I might take a pro bono case or two, the selection criteria being that you had to have your case in her courtroom. My defendant was convicted but I beat up the snitch so badly that the AUSA refused to give him the promised 5K1.1. My client got less time than the snitch. But Her Honor, Judge Hamilton, clearly wanted to protect this snitch. Finally at sentencing after telling the client what a great job I did (always a bad sign) she told me she never planned to hold me in contempt BUT she was banishing me from her courtroom as I was "rude and insolent". Oh what a blow to never appear before her again. About 12 years later I was assigned to her and asked her to recuse herself based on her prior statement. She said I was only banished in court appointed cases as I was rude and insolent and she didn't want the government to pay me. Then to prove her point she pulled out what appeared to be 10 or more pages of typewritten notes - clearly she had prepared her remarks for sentencing AND kept the paperwork. So I asked her if it was agreeable that I be rude and insolent if I was privately retained. I had the transcript of the sentencing and though I didn't bring it to court. after she got done with her diatribe at sentencing which she was clearly reading from her notes she threw in a remark NOT in her notes: "So I will never see you in my court again". I told her that's what she said and it wasn't in the papers she was reading from but I would be glad to get the transcript and show it to her. She then again said she would not recuse herself but said the defendant might not want to be represented by me in front of her so she asked him if he would like her to recuse herself. After a 3 second whispered conversation he told her he wanted to go to another judge. Many in the criminal defense bar know this story.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 23303
Rating:1.0
Comments:
Her limited intelligence shows up most when she writes her own orders. Not only has she completely reversed herself in subsequent orders (making it difficult to litigate, since one has to continually re-litigate), she even contradicted herself within a single order! It was so bizarre that one of the only things opposing counsel and I could agree upon was that neither of knew what her ruling meant and that we *both* had error to show on appeal.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 22137
Rating:1.0
Comments:
She is not very smart and easily irritated. Once she gets an idea in her head, usually put there by the AUSA she will not change it. Petty and vindictive. Generally a very unpleasant experience in trial. She is clearly the worst judge in the N.D.Ca.

Litigant

Comment #: 21692
Rating:1.0
Comments:
In her judgement on my case Judge Hamilton misused, distorted, misinterpreted facts, and made factual errors. She completely skewed presenting of facts in the favor of a powerful corporation. For example, she was free to use use an example that I was offered a job by a manager within a company, who has seen all my performence papers. She chose to use another example, where I came in second for hire. To prove her decision, she used a testimony of Yingnan Zhang who lied repeatedly during her oathed testimony and that was proven. Everything the corporation was saying was truth in judge Hamilton opinion, and all the emails and facts I presented were not considered as evidence. Judge Hamilton is known in always siding with the corporation, and that happened again. I mistakenly expected that judge would consider facts. She only considered 'facts' provided by the corporation. The language she used was very telling. She said 'plaintiff alledges' 15 times. She said 'Genentech alleges' one time and 'Genentech poits out' four times. The language of judge Hamilton was no different from that of Orrick who represented the corporation: judge Hamilton fully adopted Orrick's language. This is despite Genetech admitting misappropriating a credit that was due to me. I was naive to believe that Judge Hamilton is impartial and will look into the facts. I was naive to believe that lies won't win. That's too bad. The corporation, again, is free to discriminate, to bully, to destroy a person. One reason that's the case is that it is the experience of the corporations that judges will take their side no matter the facts. Just look into the San Mateo county court records - only a totally desperate person will try to find help against the corporation in the San Mateo county court. The Federal Court represented by judge Hamilton is no different. It took me five years to heal from what the glorious corporation did to me. Orrich should be very proud. They won. I lost. Thank you judge Hamilton!

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 21687
Rating:2.8
Comments:
She is very pro-government, and has little grasp on evidence, procedure, or the applicable law. Other than those points, she is a good judge.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 21281
Rating:2.8
Comments:
She is biased against civil plaintiffs, writes results-driven decisions that ignore the governing law, and has seemed grumpy and ill-tempered every time I've appeared in her court. In the Northern District of California, she's not a good draw.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 19464
Rating:3.2
Comments:
Remarkably incompetent.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 13520
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
A really fine judge, but she doesn't like bogus civil rights cases.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 12509
Rating:2.3
Comments:
she make order dismissing my case while the case on pending appeal
This was after she erroneously dimissing my case and the case was heading to appeal.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 10245
Rating:1.0
Comments:
Blatantly pro-government in civil rights cases. She announced at our first case management conference that she "did not like our case" and then proved it by siding with the government on every issue. She completely ignored the evidence we presented at trial and found in favor of the government in total controversion of the applicable law. She is devoid of humor, not very intelligent and has a nasty temperament. I would have given her a zero if I could.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 9288
Rating:2.8
Comments:
If the government is a party to one's case, forget about it - she is totally biased in favor of government whether it be at the municipal or federal level. I am equally appalled at her lack of scholarship.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 8508
Rating:3.0
Comments:
She is a judge of rather limnited intelligence, devoid of compassion,who seeks to make up for these inherent disadvantages by vindicitvely emphasizing form over substance.

She also appears not to hire clerks with any substantial abilities in legal scholarship, having based a key portion of a ruling on a Ninth Circuit decision that had been withdrawn after a grant of en banc review.

She appears totally pro-government, and is unlikely to grant any motion or request which the prosecution opposes.

A VERY bad draw to say the least.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 8232
Rating:2.0
Comments:
Mean, nasty and not that bright. Vindictive as all get out. This is a very unpleasant person who has let being a judge go to her little head.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 6500
Rating:4.3
Comments:
A very dangerous judge. However, if the other side is sloppy and you are very, very careful, being assigned to Judge Hamilton may be an advantage.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 6272
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
This is the most ill-tempered judge I have ever encountered.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 4759
Rating:2.0
Comments:
Judge Hamilton is an absolute stickler for the rules, to the point of form over substance. She will penalize you for having your footnotes in 10-point font instead of the required 12-point. She also demonstrates a blatant pro-big business bias, and a pro-defense bias in civil rights cases. She tends to take motions under submission rather than having oral argument and refers motions to magistrates for report and recommendation when she can.