United States District Court for the Southern District of California
The United States District Court for the Southern District of California is the federal district court whose jurisdiction comprises the following counties in California: Imperial and San Diego. In terms of filed indictments, it is one of the busiest criminal districts in the United States. 
When cases from the Southern District of California are appealed, they go to the Ninth Circuit.
Vacancy warning level
The United States District Court for the Southern District of California's vacancy warning level is currently set at Blue. The court currently has one vacancy.
The Southern District of California has original jurisdiction over cases filed within its jurisdiction. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law.
|Federal Court Case Load Statistics*|
|Year||Starting case load:||Cases filed:||Total cases:||Cases terminated:||Remaining cases:||Median time(Criminal)**:||Median time(Civil)**:||3 Year Civil cases#:||Vacant posts:##||Trials/Post|
|*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website and reflect the calendar year through September. **Time in months from filing to completion.|
#This statistic includes cases which have been appealed in higher courts. ##This is the total number of months that any all judicial posts had spent vacant that year.
The Southern District of California has two separate courthouses. Please consult the chart below for more information:
|Clerk of the Court
United States District Court
|619/557-5600||M-F 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.||Accessible by both trolley and bus.|
|Edward J. Schwartz U.S. Courthouse
U.S. District Court
|619/557-5600||M-F 7:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.||Accessible by both trolley and bus.|
|USDC El Centro
U.S. District Court
|(760) 335-3428||M-F 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.||Not accessible by public bus. Plenty of available free public parking spaces.|
The Southern District of California was established by Congress on September 28, 1850. Congress had organized California into two judicial districts, the Northern and the Southern, with one judgeship for each court. The district courts were not assigned to a judicial circuit, and thus were granted civil jurisdiction the same as U.S. circuit courts, except in appeals and writs of error, which are the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
On August 31, 1852 the statute 10 Stat. 76, 84 passed after the death of the Southern District judge, having the Northern District judge serve as the judge for the Southern District.
Statute 10 Stat. 161, 169 passed on February 26, 1853 granting the same criminal jurisdiction that is exercised by other district and circuit courts in California. The statute 10 Stat. 265, passed on January 18, 1854 reauthorizing the judgeship for the Southern District, followed by March 2, 1855's, statute 10 Stat. 631 granting the establishment of the U.S. Circuit Court for the Districts of California and repealing California district courts' authority to exercise the trial jurisdiction of a U.S. circuit court. However, they still continued to exercise appellate jurisdiction in certain cases involving land claims.
March 3, 1863's statute, 12 Stat. 794 then abolished the California Circuit, and established the Tenth Circuit, which consisted of the California and Oregon judicial districts and eliminated the remaining appellate jurisdiction of the district courts of California.
The federal judiciary was organized into nine circuits on July 23, 1866 by statute 14 Stat. 209, and the judicial districts of California were assigned to the Ninth Circuit. This was followed by the statute 14 Stat. 300, which was passed on July 27, 1866, and reorganized California as a single judicial district with one authorized judgeship. Statute 24 Stat. 308 again divided California into the Northern and the Southern districts, with one authorized judgeship for each district on August 5, 1886.
Over time 12 additional judicial posts were added for a total of 13 current posts.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the Southern District of California:
|August 5, 1886||24 Stat. 308||1|
|July 30, 1914||38 Stat. 580||2|
|July 27, 1930||46 Stat. 819||3|
|August 2, 1935||49 Stat. 508||5|
|August 19, 1935||49 Stat. 659||6|
|May 31, 1938||52 Stat. 584, 585||7|
|May 24, 1940||54 Stat. 219, 220||8|
|August 3, 1949||63 Stat. 493||10|
|February 10, 1954||68 Stat. 8||11|
|May 19, 1961||75 Stat. 80||13|
|March 18, 1966||80 Stat. 75||2|
|June 2, 1970||84 Stat. 294||5|
|October 20, 1978||92 Stat. 1629||7|
|December 1, 1990||104 Stat. 5089||8|
|November 2, 2002||116 Stat. 1758||13|
| • Marine aircraft crash settlement Judge(s):Jeffrey Miller|
*Yoon et al v United States et al 3:2010cv01578
|On December 28, 2011, Judge Miller ordered the U.S. Government to pay $17 million in damages to the family of Don Yoon. The payments were to cover the loss of Yoon's wife, two daughters and mother-in-law when a U.S. Marine Corps jet crashed into their California home in 2008. |
| • Donations Cap for San Diego Politicians Judge(s):Irma Gonzalez|
*Thalheimer et al v. City of San Diego et al 3:09-cv-02862-IEG-BGS
|U.S. District Judge Irma Gonzalez ruled that the city of San Diego cannot enforce a cap of more than a thousand dollars on the amount political parties donate to local election campaigns.
"Political parties are unlike other individuals and entities because the candidates do expressly associate with them and vote on issues advocated/supported by them. In light of this, the court cannot say, for example, that a Republican politician is necessarily 'corrupt' - or that there is an appearance of corruption-just because that politician votes to pass issues supported by the Republican Party after he or she takes office. To the contrary, that is the exact purpose of our political party system," said Judge Gonzalez.
Candidates are allowed to spend their own money on campaigning, but they are not to accept public or private donations more than a year before any election. Furthermore, Judge Gonzalez upheld a $500.00 cap on contributions from individuals, as well as provisions that prohibit corporations and labor unions from donating directly to candidates.The lawsuit on the San Diego campaign finance laws was brought to light in December of 2009 by former Republican city council candidate Phil Thalheimer, the Republican party of San Diego, as well as the Lincoln Club of San Diego, which is a business political action committee. Certain provisions of the law, the lawsuit claimed, were intended to curb corruption, but instead violated their rights to free speech.
Two separate courthouses serve the Southern District of California.
For new stories and other related material see California judicial news.
- United States District Court for the Southern District of California Official Website
- Federal Judicial Center-U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California Website
|2.1 Active Judges|
|2.1.1 Article III judges|
|2.1.2 Pending appointments|
|2.1.3 Senior judges|
|2.2 Past judges|
|2.2.1 Former Chief judges|
|2.2.2 Former judges|
Article III judgesSee: Article III federal judge
The United States District Court for the Southern District of California has 13 posts and 1 vacancy. The current Chief Judge is Barry Moskowitz. This is a list of the current judges on the court:
|Judge Michael Anello||1943||Miami, FL||W. Bush||10/10/2008 - Present||Napoleon Jones||Bowdoin College, B.A., 1965||Georgetown U. Law Center, J.D., 1968|
|Judge Larry Burns||1954||Pasadena, CA||W. Bush||9/25/2003 - Present||New Seat|116 Stat. 1758||Point Loma College, B.A., 1976||U. of San Diego School of Law, J.D., 1979|
|Judge Roger Benitez||1950||Havana, Cuba||W. Bush||6/21/2004 - Present||New Seat|116 Stat. 1758||San Diego State U., B.A., 1974||Western State U., J.D., 1978|
|Judge William Hayes||1956||Bronxville, NY||W. Bush||10/6/2003 - Present||New Seat|116 Stat. 1758||Syracuse U., B.S., 1978||Syracuse U. School of Law, J.D., 1983|
|Judge Janis Sammartino||1950||Philadelphia, PA||W. Bush||9/21/2007 - Present||Judith Keep||Occidental College, A.B., 1972||U. of Notre Dame Law School, J.D., 1975|
|Judge John Houston||1952||Greensboro, NC||W. Bush||10/7/2003 - Present||New Seat|116 Stat. 1758||North Carolina A & T State U., B.S., 1974||U. of Miami at Coral Gables School of Law, J.D., 1977|
|Judge Dana Sabraw||1958||San Rafael, CA||W. Bush||9/26/2003 - Present||New Seat|116 Stat. 1758||San Diego State U., B.S., 1980||U. of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, J.D., 1985|
|Chief Judge Barry Moskowitz||1950||Patterson, NJ||Clinton||12/26/1995 - Present||2012 - Present||New Seat|104 Stat. 5089||Rutgers College, B.A., 1972||Rutgers U. School of Law, J.D., 1975|
|Judge Marilyn Huff||1951||Ann Arbor, MI||H.W. Bush||5/14/1991 - Present||1998 - 2005||William Enright||Calvin College, B.A., 1972||U. of Michigan Law School, J.D., 1976|
|Judge Anthony J. Battaglia||1949||San Diego, CA||Obama||3/9/2011 - Present||James Lorenz||United States International U., B.A., 1971||California Western School of Law, J.D., 1974|
|Judge Cathy Bencivengo||Obama||2/9/2012 - Present||Jeffrey Miller||Rutgers University, B.A., 1980||U. of Michigan Law, J.D., 1988|
|Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel||1953||East Chicago, IN||Obama||9/22/2012 - Present||Indiana U., B.A., 1976||Indiana U. Law, J.D., 1979|
There are no current pending appointments for the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.
Senior judgesSee: Federal judges on senior status
The United States District Court for the Southern District of California has 7 judges on senior status currently. This is a list of the current senior judges on the court:
|Senior Judge Irma Gonzalez||H.W. Bush||8/12/1992 - 3/29/2013||2005 - 2012||3/29/2013-Present||Stanford U., B.A., 1970||U. of Arizona College of Law, J.D., 1973|
|Senior Judge Rudi Brewster||Reagan||6/15/1984 - 7/1/1998||7/1/1998 - Present||Princeton U., B.A., 1954||Stanford Law School, J.D., 1960|
|Senior Judge Gordon Thompson||Nixon||10/16/1970 - 12/28/1994||1984 - 1991||12/28/1994 - Present||U. of Southern California, B.S., 1951||Southwestern U. School of Law, LL.B., 1956|
|Senior Judge Thomas Whelan||Clinton||10/22/1998 - 8/15/2010||8/15/2010 - Present||U. of San Diego, B.A., 1961||U. of San Diego School of Law, J.D., 1965|
|Senior Judge Jeffrey Miller||Clinton||5/27/1997 - 6/6/2010||6/6/2010 - Present||U. of California, Los Angeles, B.A., 1964||U. of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, J.D., 1967|
|Senior Judge James Lorenz||Clinton||10/5/1999 - 10/25/2009||10/25/2009 - Present||U. of California at Berkeley, B.A., 1957||California Western School of Law, J.D., 1965|
|Senior Judge William Enright||Nixon||6/30/1972 - 7/12/1990||7/12/1990 - Present||Dartmouth College, A.B., 1947||Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, CA, LL.B., 1950|
|Magistrate Judge Jan Adler||07/08/2003 - Present||Cornell University, A.B., 1975||Duke University School of Law, J.D., 1978|
|Magistrate Judge Peter Lewis||06/28/2004 - Present||U.S. International U., B.A., 1973||California Western U. Law, J.D., 1978|
|Magistrate Judge Barbara Major||01/05/2004 - Present||Stanford, B.A., 1983||U. of California, Berkeley, J.D., 1987|
|Magistrate Judge Bill McCurine||01/05/2004 - Present||Dartmouth College, B.A., 1969||Harvard Law, J.D., 1975|
|Magistrate Judge Nita Stormes||01/03/2000 - Present||Ohio Wesleyan U., 1976||Duke U. Law, J.D., 1979|
|Magistrate Judge William Gallo||10/15/2009 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge David Bartick||04/02/2012 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge Karen Crawford||03/05/2012 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge Ruben Brooks||09/02/1993 - Present||U. of California, Los Angeles, B.A., 1971||Yale Law, J.D., 1974|
|Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal||04/28/2010 - Present||Suffolk U. Law, J.D., 1984|
Former Chief judges
|Howard Turrentine||1982 - 1984|
|Edward Schwartz||1969 - 1982|
|William Mathes||1964 - 1965|
|Fred Kunzel||1967 - 1969|
|Judith Keep||1991 - 1998|
|Benjamin Harrison||1959 - 1959|
|Peirson Hall||1959 - 1964|
|Thurmond Clarke||1966 - 1966|
|William Byrne, Sr.||1965 - 1966|
|Leon Rene Yankwich||1951 - 1959|
|Paul John McCormick||1948 - 1951|
|Marilyn Huff||1998 - 2005|
|Gordon Thompson||1984 - 1991|
|Irma Gonzalez||2005 - 2012|
|James Marshall Carter||1966 - 1967|
In order to qualify for the office of Chief Judge in one of the federal courts, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as Chief Judge. A vacancy in the office of Chief Judge is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The Chief Judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a Chief Judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion. See 28 U.S.C. § 45.
These rules for Chief Judges in the federal judiciary have been in effect since October 1, 1982. The office of Chief Judge was created in 1948. Until August 6, 1959, the position was filled in each federal court by the longest-serving judge who had not elected to retire on what has since 1958 been known as senior status or declined to serve as Chief Judge. From then until 1982 it was filled by the senior such judge who had not turned 70.
- Erskine Mayo Ross
- James Marshall Carter
- Ogden Hoffman
- James McHall Jones
- Isaac Stockton Keith Ogier
- Fletcher Mathews Haight
- Olin Wellborn
- Benjamin Franklin Bledsoe
- Oscar Trippet
- William James
- Napoleon Jones
- Edward Henning
- Paul John McCormick
- John Clifford Wallace
- George Cosgrave
- Harry Aaron Hollzer
- Albert Lee Stephens, Sr.
- Leon Rene Yankwich
- Ralph Jenney
- Campbell Beaumont
- Albert Lee Stephens, Jr.
- William Byrne, Sr.
- Charles Carr
- Thurmond Clarke
- Elisha Crary
- Jesse Curtis
- William Gray
- Peirson Hall
- Andrew Hauk
- Irving Hill
- Benjamin Harrison
- Reuben Brooks
- Leo Papas
- Francis Whelan
- Earl Gilliam
- Lawrence Irving
- Judith Keep
- Fred Kunzel
- William Mathes
- Leland Nielsen
- James O'Connor
- John Rhoades
- Edward Schwartz
- Ernest Tolin
- Jacob Weinberger
- Harry Westover
- Howard Turrentine
Chief Judge: Barry Moskowitz • Michael Anello • Larry Burns • Roger Benitez • William Hayes • Janis Sammartino • John Houston • Dana Sabraw • Marilyn Huff • Anthony J. Battaglia • Cathy Bencivengo • Gonzalo P. Curiel
|Magistrate judges||Jan Adler • Peter Lewis • Barbara Major • Bill McCurine • Nita Stormes • William Gallo • David Bartick • Karen Crawford • Ruben Brooks • Bernard Skomal •|
|Former Article III judges||
Erskine Mayo Ross • James Marshall Carter • Ogden Hoffman • James McHall Jones • Isaac Stockton Keith Ogier • Fletcher Mathews Haight • Olin Wellborn • Benjamin Franklin Bledsoe • Oscar Trippet • William James • Napoleon Jones • Edward Henning • Paul John McCormick • John Clifford Wallace • George Cosgrave • Harry Aaron Hollzer • Albert Lee Stephens, Sr. • Leon Rene Yankwich • Ralph Jenney • Campbell Beaumont • Albert Lee Stephens, Jr. • William Byrne, Sr. • Charles Carr • Thurmond Clarke • Elisha Crary • Jesse Curtis • William Gray • Peirson Hall • Andrew Hauk • Irving Hill • Benjamin Harrison • Reuben Brooks • Leo Papas • Francis Whelan • Earl Gilliam • Lawrence Irving • Judith Keep • Fred Kunzel • William Mathes • Leland Nielsen • James O'Connor • John Rhoades • Edward Schwartz • Ernest Tolin • Jacob Weinberger • Harry Westover • Howard Turrentine •
|Former Chief judges||
James Marshall Carter • Irma Gonzalez • Gordon Thompson • Marilyn Huff • Paul John McCormick • Leon Rene Yankwich • William Byrne, Sr. • Thurmond Clarke • Peirson Hall • Benjamin Harrison • Judith Keep • Fred Kunzel • William Mathes • Edward Schwartz • Howard Turrentine •