United States District Court for the Southern District of California

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Southern District of California
Ninth Circuit
Judges: 13
Posts: 13
Vacancies: 0
Active judges
Chief: Barry Moskowitz
Senior Judges
Magistrate Judges
Former Judges
(Numbers indicate % of seats vacant.)
More than 40%

The United States District Court for the Southern District of California is one of ninety-four United States district courts. The district operates out of three courthouses in San Diego and one in El Centro. When decisions of the court are appealed, they are appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals based in downtown San Francisco at the James R. Browning Federal Courthouse.

The United States Attorney for the Southern District of California represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. The current district attorney is Laura E. Duffy.[1]

Vacancy warning level

The United States District Court for the Southern District of California's vacancy warning level is green. The court currently has no vacancies.

Pending nominations

There are no pending nominations for the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.

Active judges

Article III judges

JudgeBornHomeAppointed byActiveChiefPreceededBachelorsLaw
Judge Michael Anello1943Miami, FLW. Bush 10/10/2008 - PresentNapoleon JonesBowdoin College, B.A., 1965Georgetown U. Law Center, J.D., 1968
Judge Larry Burns1954Pasadena, CAW. Bush 9/25/2003 - PresentNew Seat|116 Stat. 1758Point Loma College, B.A., 1976University of San Diego School of Law, J.D., 1979
Judge Roger Benitez1950Havana, CubaW. Bush 6/21/2004 - PresentNew Seat|116 Stat. 1758San Diego State U., B.A., 1974Western State U., J.D., 1978
Judge William Hayes1956Bronxville, NYW. Bush 10/6/2003 - PresentNew Seat|116 Stat. 1758Syracuse U., B.S., 1978Syracuse U. School of Law, J.D., 1983
Judge Janis Sammartino1950Philadelphia, PAW. Bush 9/21/2007 - PresentJudith KeepOccidental College, A.B., 1972University of Notre Dame Law School, J.D., 1975
Judge John Houston1952Greensboro, NCW. Bush 10/7/2003 - PresentNew Seat|116 Stat. 1758North Carolina A & T State University, 1974University of Miami at Coral Gables School of Law, 1977
Judge Dana Sabraw1958San Rafael, CAW. Bush 9/26/2003 - PresentNew Seat|116 Stat. 1758San Diego State U., B.S., 1980University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, J.D., 1985
Chief judge Barry Moskowitz1950Patterson, NJClinton 12/26/1995 - Present2012 - PresentNew Seat|104 Stat. 5089Rutgers College, B.A., 1972Rutgers U. School of Law, J.D., 1975
Judge Marilyn Huff1951Ann Arbor, MIH.W. Bush 5/14/1991 - Present1998 - 2005William EnrightCalvin College, B.A., 1972University of Michigan Law School, J.D., 1976
Judge Anthony J. Battaglia1949San Diego, CAObama 03/09/2011 - PresentJames LorenzUnited States International U., 1971California Western School of Law, 1974
Judge Cathy Bencivengo1958Teaneck, NJObama 2/9/2012 - PresentJeffrey MillerRutgers University, B.A., 1980University of Michigan Law, J.D., 1988
Judge Cynthia A. Bashant1960San Diego, CaliforniaObama 4/30/2014-PresentIrma GonzalezSmith College, 1982University of California Law, 1986
Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel1953East Chicago, INObama 9/22/2012 - PresentIndiana U., B.A., 1976Indiana U. Law, J.D., 1979

Active Article III judges by appointing political party

This graph displays the percent of active judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.


Senior judges

JudgeAppointed byActiveChiefSeniorBachelorsLaw
Senior Judge Gordon ThompsonNixon 10/16/1970 - 12/28/19941984 - 199112/28/1994 - PresentUniversity of Southern California, B.S., 1951Southwestern U. School of Law, LL.B., 1956
Senior Judge Thomas WhelanClinton 10/22/1998 - 8/15/20108/15/2010 - PresentUniversity of San Diego, B.A., 1961University of San Diego School of Law, J.D., 1965
Senior Judge Jeffrey MillerClinton 5/27/1997 - 6/6/20106/6/2010 - PresentUCLA, 1964UCLA School of Law, 1967
Senior Judge James LorenzClinton 10/5/1999 - 10/25/200910/25/2009 - PresentUniversity of California at Berkeley, B.A., 1957California Western School of Law, J.D., 1965
Senior Judge William EnrightNixon 6/30/1972 - 7/12/19907/12/1990 - PresentDartmouth College, A.B., 1947Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, CA, LL.B., 1950

Senior judges by appointing political party

This graph displays the percent of senior judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.


Magistrate judges

Magistrate Judge Jan Adler07/08/2003 - PresentCornell University, A.B., 1975Duke University School of Law, J.D., 1978
Magistrate Judge Peter Lewis (Federal magistrate)06/28/2004 - PresentU.S. International U., B.A., 1973California Western U. Law, J.D., 1978
Magistrate Judge Barbara Major01/05/2004 - PresentStanford, B.A., 1983University of California, Berkeley, J.D., 1987
Magistrate Judge Nita Stormes01/03/2000 - PresentOhio Wesleyan U., 1976Duke U. Law, J.D., 1979
Magistrate Judge William Gallo10/15/2009 - Present
Magistrate Judge David Bartick04/02/2012 - Present
Magistrate Judge Karen Crawford3/5/2012-3/4/2020Boston UniversityCalifornia Western School of Law
Magistrate Judge Ruben Brooks09/02/1993 - PresentUniversity of California, Los Angeles, B.A., 1971Yale Law, J.D., 1974
Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal04/28/2010 - PresentSuffolk U. Law, J.D., 1984
Magistrate Judge Jill L. Burkhardt3/11/2014-3/10/2022
Magistrate Judge Mitchell D. Dembin3/18/2011-PresentBrooklyn College, City University of New YorkWestern New England Law School


The Counties of the Southern District of California (click for larger map)

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.

The geographic jurisdiction of the Southern District of California consists of the Imperial and San Diego counties in the southern part of the state of California.




Federal Court Caseload Statistics*
YearStarting case load:Cases filed:Total cases:Cases terminated:Remaining cases:Median time (Criminal)**:Median time (Civil)**:Three-year civil cases#:Vacant posts:## Trials/Post
2013 6252103361658810679 59094.36.7264 (8.9%)6.118
2012 6636113161795211790 61624.46.5199 (6.8%)16.317
2011 5498112211671910817 59024.36.5176 (6.5%)29.118
2010 5311101921550310713 47903.86165 (6.9%)16.516
2009 483298681470010078 46223.96159 (6.7%)020
2008 45188266127848679 41053.96.2133 (6.5%)11.822
20073776790511681829333884.35.9111 (5.2%)11.630
*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 judicial posts had spent vacant that year.

Notable cases


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.

After the death of the judge of the Southern District, in 1852, Congress passed a statute to give the Northern District judge authority over the Southern District as well. Two years later, the Southern District judgeship was reauthorized.

In 1855, the United States Circuit Court for the Districts of California was established. This repeal the trial court jurisdiction of the California federal district courts. The courts still continued to exercise appellate jurisdiction in certain cases involving land claims.

In 1863, the California Circuit was abolished and the Tenth Circuit was created. This circuit consisted of the California and Oregon judicial districts and eliminated the remaining appellate jurisdiction of the district courts of California.

In July 1866, the federal judiciary was organized into nine circuits. California's single judicial district, with one authorized judgeship, fell into the Ninth Circuit.

Twenty years later, the districts were again divided into the Northern and Southern districts, with one judgeship each.

The Evarts Act of 1891 reorganized the federal judiciary, establishing the federal district courts as trial courts which appealed to the circuit courts of appeal.

Over time, twelve additional judicial posts were added to the Southern District for a total of thirteen current posts.[4]

Judicial posts

The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the Southern District of California:[4]

Year Statute Total Seats
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

Former chief judges

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.[5][6]

Former judges

For more information about the judges of the Southern District of California, see former federal judges of the Southern District of California.

Federal courthouse

Two separate courthouses serve the Southern District of California.

See also

External links