SF Chronicle: U.S. Senate confirms Bay Area lawyer as top Northern California prosecutor

By Shira Stein

Ismail Ramsey, a Berkeley lawyer, was confirmed by the Senate to serve as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California late Tuesday.

In the position, Ramsey will prosecute violations of federal law in Northern California, an office that has traditionally handled high-profile cases involving Silicon Valley, including the recent trial of ex-Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. He is a career white-collar attorney and previously worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in the office that he will now lead. The office has seen a great deal of leadership turnover, with four people having served as U.S. attorney since 2015.

Ramsey was confirmed by voice vote, which means that the vote of each individual senator was not recorded and he was instead accepted because enough lawmakers voiced a “yea” on the floor. Such a procedure is typically done for uncontroversial nominations and is agreed upon by both political parties.

President Biden nominated him to the post in November 2022, and he was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee Feb. 16 by all 11 committee Democrats and six of the 10 Republicans.

“Ramsey brings a wealth of experience to the job,” California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla wrote in a statement. “His demonstrated commitment to public service as an Air Force veteran and his deep knowledge of the issues facing the district as a former assistant U.S. attorney make him exceptionally well qualified to serve California’s Northern District as its chief federal law enforcement officer.”

Ramsey is a founding partner at Ramsey & Ehrlich, which primarily focuses on white-collar and criminal defense cases. He is also an adjunct professor at UC Berkeley Law School and serves as a commissioner on the city of Berkeley Police Review Commission.

Ramsey has been on the other side of big cases in the Northern District: He represented former San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru — who pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges in January — and Anthony Levandowski, the former employee of Google’s self-driving unit Waymo who pleaded guilty to theft of trade secrets in 2020.

Ramsey is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. He clerked for former U.S. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Harry Edwards. Ramsey’s class at Harvard included Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, where the two worked together on the law review.

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