In 2002, Ryan applied for a vacancy on the Northern District bench. As the story goes, White House officials urged him to instead take the job of U.S. Attorney, assuring him that after gaining a bit of federal seasoning, he would don a judge's robe.
Whether Ryan still carries that career ambition is unknown. Yet considering his cold relationship with the region's federal judges and the speculation in legal circles that Justice Department officials would prefer that he step down, the optimism of four years ago seems a distant glimmer.
A month before he took office, Ryan told the Mercury News, " ... I think I have an advantage because I'm not coming from within the system. To use an overused phrase, I'll be able to think outside the box."
He's had a more difficult time stepping out of his bunker.