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Judge Sandra S. Ikuta

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Confirmed June 19, 2006

  • Sandra Ikuta was confirmed on June 19, 2006, to the Ninth Circuit, which hears appeals from the federal district courts of Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.
  • Judge Ikuta has a distinguished record as a practicing attorney in the public and private sectors.
    • In 2004, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Judge Ikuta to serve as Deputy Secretary and General Counsel of the California Resources Agency. In this capacity she was responsible for all appellate and trial litigation in which the California Resources Agency had a stake, including reviewing and revising briefs, as well as assisting in developing legal theories and litigation strategies. In addition, Judge Ikuta contributed to the development of policy initiatives in the areas of national forests and forestry, flood control, water resources, state parks, and the preservation of the state’s natural, open space and agricultural lands.
    • From 1990 to 2004, Judge Ikuta worked as an associate and partner at the Los Angeles offices of O’Melveny & Myers LLP, where she represented major public and private corporations in a wide range of industries, such as The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Qwest Communications International, Inc., Citicorp Real Estate, Inc., Bank of America, N.A.; GTE, BP West Coast Products LLP, Mirant California LLC, and Kidder Peabody.
    • While in private practice, Judge Ikuta served as co-chair of O’Melveny’s environmental practice group, where she developed a sophisticated practice in the areas of state and federal environmental law, including the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the federal Superfund law, and their state counterparts. She also had a thriving transactional practice in areas such as management of environmental risks in asset purchases, divestitures, and financing transactions, development of environmental insurance plans, brownfield transactions, water transfer, and water conservation agreements.
    • Judge Ikuta was known for her emphasis on compliance counseling even in litigation matters. She guided clients through major environmental audits to identify and correct non-compliance issues under the Environmental Protection Agency’s voluntary self-disclosure program.
    • Judge Ikuta has had extensive experience speaking and writing on a wide range of environmental topics of interest to sophisticated practitioners.
  • Judge Ikuta has excellent academic credentials and professional training.
    • She served as a law clerk for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and for Judge Alex Kozinski of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
    • She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1976, where she was a National Merit Scholar and member of Phi Beta Kappa. In 1988, Judge Ikuta received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of California Los Angeles School of Law, where she was named to the Order of the Coif and elected as Graduate Woman of the Year.
    • Prior to attending law school, Judge Ikuta received her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She worked as a writer and editor for seven years.
  • Judge Ikuta has used her legal skills to assist non-profit organizations on a pro bono basis.
    • Judge Ikuta worked with a non-profit that assists in the protection of conservation lands and restoration of brownfields, in its efforts to develop a brownfield property in the Los Angeles area into a major open space park.
    • Judge Ikuta represented an organization dedicated to the redevelopment of a brownfield property to benefit inner city neighborhoods.
  • Prior to entering law school, Judge Ikuta succeeded in becoming the first female editor of a major martial arts publication.