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CHS grad a federal court judge
Ceres native Nathanael "Nat" M. Cousins became a magistrate judge with the United States District Court of Northern California at a Nov. 3 induction ceremony held in San Francisco.

Cousins, 41, was appointed to the seat vacated by retiring Magistrate Judge Bernard Zimmerman and will hold proceedings in Courtroom A on the 15th Floor of the Phillip Burton Federal Building & United States Courthouse at 450 Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco.

Also appointed as Magistrate Judge was Jacqueline Scott Corley.

Attending the induction were his parents, Michael and Patricia Cousins of Ceres, and his siblings Peter, Stella, and Mary. Ceres High faculty members Phil de la Porte and Joe Cucinella, who had an influence on Cousins up until his 1988 graduation, were in attendance.

"Living in Ceres instilled some deep-rooted values," said Cousins, "that are with me each day in court: common sense, fairness, respect. I was particularly honored to have coaches de la Porte and Cucinella at my induction, because they played a major role in teaching me discipline and humility. I owe them a big debt."

Cousins said he's been interested in becoming a judge since he attended law school. He graduated in 1995 from U.C. Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. The experience of clerking for the the U.S. District Court of Western Louisiana after law school intensified his interest in being a judge.

"I was grateful to be selected, and excited for the new challenges ahead," said Cosuins. "Every day on the bench brings a new challenge."

Cousins presides over criminal and civil trials Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and spends Wednesdays in conferences. The jurisdiction of the Northern District of California covers 15 counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Sonoma.

The court has courthouses in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Eureka, 14 district judgeships and 11 magistrate judgeships, one of whom is Cousins.

Cousins said his immediate goal is "to get better at being a judge" in his eight-year term, which is renewable.

Before his appointment, Cousins served two years as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's office for the Northern District of California. One of his most significant duties there was working in Salinas on Operation Ceasefire, a community program to reduce gang violence.

Previously Cousins served for five years in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice where he was part of the team that investigated and prosecuted global price-fixing cartels in memory chip markets, including DRAM. For his work on the DRAM cases, Cousins was awarded the Attorney General's Distinguished Service Award.

Before joining the DOJ, Nat was an associate and then partner in the Chicago law office of Kirkland & Ellis, and before that an associate in the Los Angeles office of Greenberg Glusker. At both firms he litigated civil and criminal cases in state and federal trial and appellate courts, with an emphasis on cases involving antitrust, class actions, and investment fraud.

He also served for many years as pro bono class counsel on behalf of the inmates in an Illinois state prison system.

Cousins plans to continue teaching a first-year "moot court" class at the University of California, Hastings College of Law, and previously taught legal writing and antitrust classes.

In 1995, Judge Cousins graduated with honors from Hastings College of Law, where he was Order of the Coif and edited the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly. He earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford University in 1992. He also studied abroad at Leiden University in the Netherlands and Novosibirsk University in Russia. He served as a law clerk for Chief Judge F.A. Little, Jr. of the U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana.

Cousins said he has "benefited from the sacrifices of many others, including my family, teachers, coaches, and friends."

While at Ceres High School Cousins was a sports stringer for the Ceres Courier.