The Honorable Richard B. Ulmer, Jr.

San Francisco Superior Court

Court Info

San Francisco Superior Court, Department 306 (website)

Clerk phone: 415-551-3846

Courtroom Rules

Biography

The Hon. Judge Ulmer was born Richard Brownley Ulmer, Jr. in 1954 in southeast Kansas. He was the first of seven children born to school teachers Marian and Richard Ulmer. The Ulmer family moved to another small town in southwest Iowa, and in 1964 a tornado blew the roof off of their house while they huddled under a work bench in the basement. Circumstances were humble. Judge Ulmer recalls drinking powdered milk and wearing homemade clothes, but the family was a loving one that emphasized hard work (Dick had paper routes from a young age) and the importance of education.

Judge Ulmer graduated from Benson High School in Omaha and was awarded a full scholarship to the University of Nebraska at Omaha where he took an avid interest in journalism. He became managing editor of the student newspaper as a sophomore and after graduating cum laude he took a job as a $105 per week reporter for the Omaha Sun.

Judge Ulmer ultimately was admitted to Stanford Law School and graduated with honors in 1986. He and his wife, Anita Stork, bought a home in the Inner Richmond in 1989 (one week before the Loma Prieta earthquake!) and their daughter, Rikki, was born at California Pacific on a foggy July night in 1994.

Judge Ulmer compiled a sterling record in 23 years as a trial and appellate lawyer at two of San Francisco's pre-eminent law firms -- McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen and Latham & Watkins. His legal skills annually won him recognition from his peers as a "Northern California Super Lawyer," as well as other awards.

Dick graduated from Stanford Law School with honors in 1986, and won his first trial while still an associate at McCutchen. In 1995, Dick joined Latham & Watkins where he worked closely for former U.S. District Judge Barbara Caulfield and handled complex cases for some of the world's most innovative high-tech and biotech companies including Adobe, Affymetrix, Apple, Genentech, Lexmark, National Semiconductor, Raychem and Roche.

In ACRA v. Lexmark, Dick defended an innovative recycling program used to keep printer cartridges from being discarded in landfills. He won both in federal district court and then on an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case received extensive national publicity.

In another federal court case, Enzo Biochem v. Affymetrix and Roche, Dick defended a cutting-edge diagnostic device called a "gene chip" which is poised to revolutionize patient drug treatment protocol. Doctors use this chip to tell from a patient's genes whether she will absorb drugs at low, normal or high rates and allows for a more precise dosage regimen.

Dick also briefed and argued more than a dozen appeals to the courts. He has the rare distinction of having two appellate decisions (both wins) published on the same day. One of these, Schectman v. Pillsbury, is frequently cited in California cases involving stolen documents.

Dick has also lived a life of public service. Before law school at Stanford, he volunteered for years as an ESL tutor. As a lawyer, he worked on at least one pro bono case at all times, providing legal services to the poor and needy for free. With the Prison Law Office and Disability Rights Advocates, he spent thousands of hours pro bono working to reform the California Youth Authority and juvenile halls. Dick was successful in obtaining consent decrees establishing agreements to reform to rehabilitative models and take other steps necessary to protect the vulnerable in these institutions. For his work, he was awarded the California Lawyer of the Year award in 2006.

Following a rigorous selection process, Judge Ulmer was appointed to the San Francisco Superior Court in June 2009. At the time of appointment, he was supervising more than 50 pro bono cases, many of them on behalf of battered women. Just months into his judicial tenure, Judge Ulmer was elected by his fellow judges to the Executive Committee, a small group of judges that sets policy for the Court.

Judge Ulmer's passions include the San Francisco Giants and marathon running. He is a founding member of the San Francisco Road Runners Club, now the City's largest running organization. He has completed five marathons, and he and his sisters have an annual tradition of running a marathon or half marathon together.

Education

  • Bachelor's Degree from University of Nebraska
  • J.D. from Stanford Law School

Career

  • Judge at Superior Court of San Francisco (from 2009)
  • Partner at Latham & Watkins (1995 to 2009)
  • Associate at McCutcheon, Doyle, Brown & Emerson (1986 to 1995)