United States District Court for the Southern District of California
- 1 Vacancy warning level
- 2 Active judges
- 3 Jurisdiction
- 4 Caseloads
- 5 Notable cases
- 6 History
- 7 Federal courthouse
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 References
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.
Vacancy warning level
There are no pending nominations for the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.
Article III judges
|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||University 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||University 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 University, 1974||University of Miami at Coral Gables School of Law, 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||University 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||University of Michigan Law School, J.D., 1976|
|Judge Anthony J. Battaglia||1949||San Diego, CA||Obama||03/09/2011 - Present||James Lorenz||United States International U., 1971||California Western School of Law, 1974|
|Judge Cathy Bencivengo||1958||Teaneck, NJ||Obama||2/9/2012 - Present||Jeffrey Miller||Rutgers University, B.A., 1980||University of Michigan Law, J.D., 1988|
|Judge Cynthia A. Bashant||1960||San Diego, California||Obama||4/30/2014-Present||Irma Gonzalez||Smith College, A.B., 1982||University of California Law, J.D., 1986|
|Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel||1953||East Chicago, IN||Obama||9/22/2012 - Present||Indiana U., B.A., 1976||Indiana 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 Judge Gordon Thompson||Nixon||10/16/1970 - 12/28/1994||1984 - 1991||12/28/1994 - Present||University 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||University of San Diego, B.A., 1961||University of San Diego School of Law, J.D., 1965|
|Senior Judge Jeffrey Miller||Clinton||5/27/1997 - 6/6/2010||6/6/2010 - Present||UCLA, 1964||UCLA School of Law, 1967|
|Senior Judge James Lorenz||Clinton||10/5/1999 - 10/25/2009||10/25/2009 - Present||University 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|
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 Judge Jan Adler||07/08/2003 - Present||Cornell University, A.B., 1975||Duke University School of Law, J.D., 1978|
|Magistrate Judge Peter Lewis (Federal magistrate)||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||University of California, Berkeley, J.D., 1987|
|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||3/5/2012-3/4/2020||Boston University||California Western School of Law|
|Magistrate Judge Ruben Brooks||09/02/1993 - Present||University 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|
|Magistrate Judge Jill L. Burkhardt||3/11/2014-3/10/2022|
|Magistrate Judge Mitchell D. Dembin||3/18/2011-Present||Brooklyn College, City University of New York||Western New England Law School|
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 Caseload 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 judicial posts had spent vacant that year.
| • Donations Cap for San Diego Politicians (2012)|
Judge(s):Irma Gonzalez (Thalheimer et al v. City of San Diego et al, 3:09-cv-02862-IEG-BGS)
|Click for summary→|
|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.
| • Marine aircraft crash settlement (2011)|
Judge(s):Jeffrey Miller (Yoon et al v United States et al, 3:2010cv01578)
|Click for summary→|
|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.|
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.
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|
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.
For more information about the judges of the Southern District of California, see former federal judges of the Southern District of California.
Two separate courthouses serve the Southern District of California.
- 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
- Offices of the United States Attorneys, Official list
- courthousenews.com, "Judge Axes Donation Cap to San Diego Politicians," January 23, 2012
- Justia.com, "Yoon et al v. United States et al"
- History of the Southern District of California from the Federal Judicial Center
- United States Courts, "Frequently Asked Questions"
- United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009
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 • Cynthia A. Bashant • Gonzalo P. Curiel
|Magistrate judges||Jan Adler • Peter Lewis (Federal magistrate) • Barbara Major • Nita Stormes • William Gallo • David Bartick • Karen Crawford • Ruben Brooks • Bernard Skomal • Jill L. Burkhardt • Mitchell D. Dembin •|
|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 • Irma Gonzalez • Rudi Brewster • 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 (California) • 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 (California) • 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 •