Willie James Ware
Ware graduated from Hayes High School in 1965, earned his bachelor of arts degree in 1969 from California Lutheran University, and completed his juris doctorate in 1972 at Stanford Law School. He served in the military police at Fort Gordon, Georgia before entering private practice with Blase, Valentine & Klein in Palo Alto, California. He continued to serve in the U.S. Army Reserve, becoming a military police captain before he was appointed by California Governor George Deukmejian to the Santa Clara County Superior Court in 1988.
On August 3, 1990 Ware was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to the District Court seat vacated by Robert Peckham. He was confirmed and received his life commission on October 1 of that year. On June 27, 1997 President Bill Clinton nominated him to succeed J. Clifford Wallace on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Durig the nomination process, Alabama newspapers related Ware's oft-told story of how witnessing the death of his brother Virgil Ware, shot while riding a bicycle on the day of the 1963 church bombing, inspired him to pursue a legal career. The story found its way to fellow Federal Judge U. W. Clemon who brought the matter to the attention of the Northern California District Court. After being contacted, Virgil's father and brother expressed surprise that someone else was telling their story.
Ware admitted to the lie, explaining that he had long identified himself with Virgil's brother, especially after learning that his father had a "second family" in Birmingham. Clinton withdrew the nomination on November 27. After a hearing, Judge Ware was reprimanded by the Judicial Council of the Northern District Court of California, but was allowed to keep his seat.
The Northern District of California is home to numerous high-tech companies and Judge Ware has ruled on several cases involving internet privacy and intellectual property. He also teaches civil procedure at the Lincoln Law School of San Jose and at Santa Clara University School of Law.