Legal Newsline

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Judge in Calif. lead poisoning case was an experienced business litigator

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Jul 12, 2013


SAN JOSE, Calif. (Legal Newsline) -- The California judge presiding in a case over lead poisoning, set for trial starting next week, was a successful business litigator before his time on the bench.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James P. Kleinberg, who will preside over The People of California v. Atlantic Richfield Company et al., which is scheduled to get underway Monday, had more than 30 years of experience handling and trying complex commercial cases in the areas of contracts, intellectual property, securities and unfair competition.

That was before his appointment to the bench in 2002.

After graduating from the University of Michigan Law School in 1967, Kleinberg began his career as a trial attorney with the antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Two years later, he entered commercial litigation practice with Petty Andrews Tufts & Jackson, at the time a medium-sized firm in San Francisco, where he became a partner.

Then, in 1983, he joined McCutchen Doyle Brown & Enersen -- now Bingham McCutchen -- where he practiced for more than 19 years as a litigation partner in San Jose, Palo Alto and San Francisco.

He had a national business litigation practice with emphasis on antitrust, securities, corporate governance and intellectual property issues.

After being appointed to the superior court by former Gov. Gray Davis, he eventually became the supervising judge of the court's civil division.

Kleinberg has been in charge of the court's complex civil litigation department since January 2011, responsible for nearly 200 cases involving securities and employment class actions, corporate governance, products liability, trade secrets and large construction projects.

Last year, the judge made a much-publicized decision in Hewlett-Packard Co. v. Oracle Corp. -- a dispute over software support for servers running Intel Corp.'s Itanium microprocessors.

Kleinberg ruled that Oracle is contractually obligated to continue developing software for Hewlett-Packard's servers.

Kleinberg currently serves on the Board of Governors of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers, Northern California, and serves as a board member and advisor on the executive committee of the California State Bar's Section of Litigation.

His wife, Judith Kleinberg, a former Palo Alto mayor, joined the Knight Foundation as program director for the San Jose/Silicone Valley region in 2010.

The private, non-profit foundation is dedicated to supporting "transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts," according to its website.

Kleinberg, who started her career as a private attorney and broadcast television journalist, is a specialist in non-profit law and also has advocated on behalf of the rights of women and children and environmental stewardship as the founder and executive of several award-winning nonprofits.

She is a past vice president of California Women Lawyers, director of the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits and chair of America's Promise - Silicon Valley, now America's Promise Alliance.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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