Meet Judge Curtis Karnow

The son of an abstract expressionist painter and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Curtis Karnow grew up in Hong Kong and came to the United States for school in the 9th grade. Known for his expertise in complex litigation, Karnow is an acclaimed author, mentor and teacher who has developed courses for judges and lawyers on implicit bias in the courts.

After completing his education at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Judge Karnow served as an assistant U.S. attorney and specialized in antitrust, intellectual property litigation, and computer and internet law while in private practice. His pro bono work included major appellate work for the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and representing indigent San Francisco families to obtain guardianships of children.

A lifelong Democrat, Judge Karnow was appointed to the San Francisco Superior Court in 2005. He serves on the court’s Complex Civil Litigation department and was presiding judge of the Court’s Appellate Division. Karnow has been credited with saving San Francisco City College (CCSF). In 2015 and 2016, he issued rulings against the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) and in favor of CCSF. The rulings prevented CCSF from losing its accreditation and shutting down.

Judge Karnow teaches new and experienced judges and has lectured at the University of Michigan Business School, the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and the law schools at Stanford, New York University, Yale, Hastings and University of San Francisco. He frequently speaks at bar meetings on civil procedure and complex litigation, experts, legal writing, technology, bias and decision-making, and settlement.

Judge Karnow is also an accomplished author. He is co-author of “The Rutter Guide,” the bible of California’s civil lawyers, and his most recent book, “Litigation in Practice,” was heralded as one of the “8 Best Litigation Books of All Time.” He is married with two adult children.

Judge Curtis Karnow Endorsements

Officials

  • Governor Jerry Brown
  • Senator Kamala Harris
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein 
  • House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
  • Congresswoman Jackie Speier
  • State Board of Equalization Member Fiona Ma
  • Senator Scott Wiener
  • Former Senator Mark Leno
  • Assemblymember David Chiu
  • Assemblymember Phil Ting
  • Mayor Mark Farrell
  • City Attorney Dennis Herrera
  • Assessor Carmen Chu
  • Sheriff Vicki Hennessy
  • District Attorney George Gascon
  • Former City Attorney Louise Renne
  • Board President London Breed
  • Supervisor Aaron Peskin
  • Supervisor Katy Tang
  • Supervisor Norman Yee
  • Supervisor Catherine Stefani 
  • Supervisor Jane Kim
  • Former Supervisor Angela Alioto
  • Former Supervisor, Reverend Dr. Amos Brown
  • School Board Commissioner Rachel Norton
  • City College Vice President Alex Randolph
  • City College Trustee Rafael Mandelman
  • City College Trustee John Rizzo
  • Former CA Democratic Party Chair John Burton
  • Former Chief of Police Greg Suhr
  • Former Justice Harry Low
  • Former Ambassador to Australia Jeff Bleich
  • Former Public Defender Geoff Brown
  • Former Superior Court Judge Jim Collins
  • Former Superior Court Judge Nancy Davis
  • Former Superior Court Judge Donna Hitchens
  • Former Superior Court Judge Philip Moscone
  • Former Superior Court Judge Charlotte Woolard
  • Former U.S. Attorney Joe Russoniello
  • Former U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan

Groups and Organizations

  • San Francisco Democratic Party
  • San Francisco Republican Party
  • San Francisco Chronicle
  • San Francisco Examiner
  • Bay Area Reporter
  • Sing Tao Daily
  • All 50 San Francisco Superior Court judges
  • All First District Court of Appeal justices
  • San Francisco La Raza Lawyers Association
  • California Latino Judges
  • Community Alliance for Jobs and Housing
  • Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club
  • San Francisco Firefighters Local 798
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers No. 6
  • Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 21
  • San Francisco Police Officers Association 
  • The Association of African American California Judicial Officers
  • Judiciary Committee of the California Association of Black Lawyers
  • City Democratic Club
  • San Francisco Democratic Women in Action
  • United Democratic Club
  • San Francisco Young Democrats 
  • Edwin M. Lee Asian Pacific Democratic Club
  • Asian American Bar Association 
  • Queen's Bench Bar Association 
  • South Asian Bar Association of Northern California
  • Community Tenants Association
  • District 5 Democratic Club
  • Chinese American Citizens Alliance

Community Leaders

  • Henry Der
  • Bob Feldman
  • Len Tillem
  • Ingrid Evans
  • Owen Clements
  • Mark Mackler
  • Harold Kahn
  • Gale Mondry
  • Brian Bringardner
  • John Kaman
  • John Munter
  • Susan Horst
  • Anthony Kline
  • Charlotte Woolard
  • Donna Hitchens
  • Wade Rhyne
  • Jeffrey Bornstein
  • Rick Seabolt
  • Jan Platt
  • William Roger Gargano
  • Malcolm Smith
  • Alexandra Ross
  • Benjamin Reyes
  • Asha Jameson
  • William Campbell
  • M David Minnick
  • JoAnn Prior
  • Michael Markman
  • Ana Gonzalez
  • Vanessa Wu
  • Michael Candela
  • Edward Kallgren
  • Michael Lee
  • Joan Haratani
  • David Kremer
  • Donna Lee Chignell
  • David Ammons
  • Charles Harrington
  • Philip Moscone
  • Trenton Norris
  • Claire Holl
  • Jonah Ross
  • Erin Murphy
  • Kathleen Dowling McDonough
  • Nancy L. Davis
  • Kathleen Purcell
  • Matthew Kahn
  • David Burk
  • Barry Abbott
  • Eduardo Ramirez
  • Alexander Lee
  • Gilles Portaz
  • Sandra Pons
  • Bruce Fisher
  • Paul Sloan
  • Amy Madsen
  • Joel Friley
  • Anita Jean Denz
  • Gilbert Eisenberg
  • Wesley Hsu
  • Judith Craddick
  • Luis Pons
  • Nancy Tung
  • Janet Gamble
  • David Troup
  • Cynny Sheehan
  • Carolyn Shuman
  • Tom Hart
  • MaryEllen Jirak
  • Michael Wong
  • Russell Fudge
  • Ioana Petrou
  • Kay Harnish-Ladd
  • Yau Lee
  • Robert Cartwright, Jr.
  • Cheryl Mills
  • Carson Niello
  • Drew Williams
  • Greg Free
  • Stuart Hanlon
  • Andrew Schwartz
  • David Bigeleisen
  • Danny Chou
  • Patricia Carlin
  • Molly Priedeman
  • Beth Jay
  • Stephen Pons
  • Ashley Pons
  • Marianne Badawi
  • Judith Bishop
  • Michael Kremer
  • Lawrence Kern
  • Frank Leidman
  • Laurie Weisberg
  • Eric Goldman
  • Scott Cmiel
  • Peggy Cmiel
  • Howard Epstein
  • Arthur Shartsis
  • Joel Zeldin
  • Michael Tsang