Longtime federal judge passes away at 80

April 15, 2023

The legal community was saddened this week when former longtime federal Judge Ronald Whyte passed away at the age of 80. 

The United States District Court for the Northern District of California quickly put out a statement following Whyte's death.

Whyte remembered as "a kind-hearted individual"

"It is with great sorrow that we share the news of the passing of Ronald Whyte, an inactive Senior United States District Judge," the statement announced.

"Judge Whyte was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on February 6, 1992, and served with distinction for 24 years in the Northern District," it explained.

The statement noted that Whyte "assumed senior status on March 2, 2009, and inactive senior status on November 1, 2016."

"Judge Whyte will be deeply missed by all who knew him," it continued, calling him "a kind-hearted individual whose contributions to the court were admired and respected by his peers."

Judge remembered fondly on social media

The statement concluded by extending "our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time."

Tributes to Whyte quickly appeared on social media, including from the California law firm Hoge Fenton, which tweeted, "With heavy hearts, Hoge Fenton announces the passing of retired Senior U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte, a San Jose-based judge, former partner, longtime colleague, and friend of the firm."

Alaina Lancaster is bureau chief for The Recorder, and she spoke up as well, saying, "Almost all the attorneys and judges I spoke to about Judge Ronald Whyte mentioned his uncommon humility."

"But some also spotlighted his humor and athleticism, allowing him to compete with clerks and staff in plank competitions after 2 decades on the bench," she added.

Whyte presided over a number of important cases

During his time on the bench, Whyte was involved in a number of technology-related cases, including a lawsuit filed against Microsoft in 2015 by Google over the hiring of one of its former executives.

That same year saw Whyte rule that a California law which banned the sale of violent video games to children was unconstitutional.

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Thomas Jefferson
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