Hon. James Donato See Rating Details
District Judge See Comments
N.D.Cal.  
Average Rating:2.7 - 9 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. James Donato


Comments


Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 24723
Rating:1.0
Comments:
He has the worst judicial temperament of any judge in the N.D. Cal. and any judge I have ever appeared before. He is an arrogant bully on the bench. He claims to support development of young lawyers but he nearly ruined my career when I appeared before him as a young associate on behalf of my first big client by threatening to sanction me for filing a motion that was consistent with the federal rules advisory committee notes, controlling Ninth Circuit precedent, and decisions from other judges on this court. But he wouldn't allow me to open my mouth at the hearing except to answer his questions without further explanation. Needless to say the client never asked me to argue in court after that on any case. I've seen plenty of short-tempered judges, but Judge Donato is not just short-tempered: he appears to have a pure hatred and resentment for his job and he is taking it out on the poor folks who are forced to appear before him. I wish there were some way his colleagues could conduct some type of intervention to help him before he ruins too many lives.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 24370
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
Rude, impatient, will not listen to anything contrary to his poorly informed first impression, a bully of the lowest type. This may be the worst judge I have appeared before in 25 years as to demeanor. I sincerely believe he is mentally ill.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 24084
Rating:2.0
Comments:
Very poor judicial temperament, unpleasant and arrogant. Seems like he is doing parties a big favor by presiding over trial and would prefer to be anywhere else. Poor case management, i.e., insists that trial date will happen prior to issuing summary judgment ruling, forcing counsel to re-submit all pretrial pleadings. Discourteous to both counsel but particularly to that of plaintiffs in civil rights matters. Rulings are poorly researched and reasoned.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 24049
Rating:8.3
Comments:
He was prepared for the hearing and asked incisive questions of both sides. Runs a formal courtroom and expects attorneys to be very prepared for argument.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 24048
Rating:1.5
Comments:
Thinks juries are the "single greatest dispute resolution mechanism ever created" = don't expect dispositive rulings, takes sides early and is very partial to his chosen side, dilatory in issuing major rulings, was neglectful of case management for a long time and then set unreasonably short schedule for parties, disrespectful to counsel on both sides, relies too heavily on law clerks.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 23911
Rating:1.7
Comments:
This judge is rude, disrespectful, demeaning and degrading. He has made incorrect rulings which have resulted in a mess of a case.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 23379
Rating:1.0
Comments:
Grumpy unpleasant person who does not seem like he wants to be there. So why is he? Not just a bad day either, I'm told, that's just him. Too early to say if the attitude has a substantive impact

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 23311
Rating:1.0
Comments:
Worst of the worst. I have never encountered a judge who dislikes lawyers more. He is a disgrace to the federal bench. Tried a case before him and won! Judge Donato obviously has never tried a case before. He has no business being on the federal bench.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 23262
Rating:5.0
Comments:
Judge Donato is Manny Real on steroids. He has the worst judicial temperament I have encountered in my many years of practicing law. What was even more surprising is his complete inability to grasp basic rules of evidence. He is very bright, but I honestly do not believe that he ever first-chaired a trial before taking the bench.

The manner in which he berates lawyers is spreading quickly among the bar as is reputation for doing so. It's a shame. I understand that he was not this way before he took the bench and (as I mentioned) he is a very bright guy. Perhaps with time he will mellow.