President Barak Obama appointed Michael W. Fitzgerald as a United States District Judge for the Central District of California on March 15, 2012, and he assumed his office on March 20, 2012. . Judge Fitzgerald,presides over matters in Los Angeles in the Court’s Western Division.
Before his appointment, Judge Fitzgerald was a named partner at the law firm of Corbin, Fitzgerald & Athey LLP/Corbin & Fitzgerald LLP in Los Angeles, where he handled complex civil and criminal cases in both federal and state courts, at trial and on appeal. Previously, he practiced at the Los Angeles office of Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe LLP from 1991 to 1995. From 1988 to 1991, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. Prior to that, he was an associate at the law firm of O’Donnell & Gordon from 1986 to 1987.
He received his undergraduate degree in 1981 from Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude, and his law degree in 1985 from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), where he was elected to the Order of the Coif. While in law school, he served as Managing Editor of the Industrial Relations Law Journal, and also received the American Jurisprudence Award in Criminal Law. After graduating from law school, he clerked for the Honorable Irving R. Kaufman of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
During his professional career, he engaged in pro bono and public service in a variety of contexts, including as a Deputy Chief Counsel to the Rampart Independent Review Panel, which examined the policies, procedures, and operations of the Los Angeles Police Department in the wake of the Rampart scandal. He also served on the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Advisory Committee for the Office of the District Attorney, and as a volunteer counsel to the Webster Commission, which investigated the Los Angeles Police Department’s response to the 1992 riots that erupted after the verdict in the Rodney King trial. In 1994, he received the Maynard Toll Pro Bono Associate Award from the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and the Richard E. Guggenhime Pro Bono Award from Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe. These awards were based on his pro bono representation of the plaintiffs in Buttino v. FBI, which resulted in the FBI's renunciation of its prior practice of not hiring openly LGBT agents and employees.