Central District of California
The United States District Court for the Central District of California is the federal district court with jurisdiction over the central region of California. It was established on September 28, 1850 and is one of the oldest district courts in the western United States. The Central District of California handles both civil and criminal matters and serves over 19 million people across a diverse seven-county region. With courthouses located in Los Angeles, Riverside, Pasadena, Santa Ana, and Santa Barbara, it is one of the busiest federal court districts in the nation.
History and Establishment
The Central District of California was created by a subdivision Act of Congress on September 28, 1850 shortly after California became a state. It was the first federal court established in California. The Act defined the boundary of the District as follows:
All that part of the State of California which lies south of the fourth standard parallel of north latitude, excepting the counties of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and San Diego.
The location of the court was initially designated as the city of San José. However, it was soon moved to Monterey, and then to Los Angeles in 1884 where it has remained ever since. The District was further divided multiple times over the decades into Northern and Southern divisions, with the dividing line between them shifting as new counties were formed. The court reached its current boundaries in 1966 when the Eastern District of California was created to cover the northeastern counties.
District Court Locations
The Central District of California holds court at the following locations:
The main courthouse location for the Central District is the First Street U.S. Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. This 29-story courthouse opened in 2016 and contains 44 courtrooms along with District Court administrative offices.
The Riverside courthouse, located at 3470 12th Street, contains seven courtrooms handling cases from the Inland Empire region.
There are three courtrooms operating out of the Pasadena courthouse complex located at 285 East Walnut Street.
The Santa Ana courthouse is in the Ronald Reagan Federal Building at 411 West Fourth Street. This location contains seven district courtrooms.
There are two courtrooms located in the Santa Barbara division courthouse at 1100 Anacapa Street in downtown Santa Barbara.
Jurisdiction and Counties Served
The Central District of California has jurisdiction over the following counties:
Los Angeles County
Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the nation with over 10 million residents. It contains 88 incorporated cities, including Los Angeles, and many unincorporated areas.
Located southeast of Los Angeles County, Orange County has over 3 million residents among its 34 incorporated cities, the most populous being Anaheim.
Riverside County is home to around 2.5 million people and contains 29 cities, including Riverside, Moreno Valley, and Palm Springs.
San Bernardino County
San Bernardino County directly north of Riverside has over 2 million residents among its 24 cities. The largest is San Bernardino.
San Luis Obispo County
Located on California’s central coast, San Luis Obispo County has about 283,000 residents. It contains 7 incorporated municipalities including San Luis Obispo.
Santa Barbara County
Santa Barbara County, located northwest of Los Angeles County, has approximately 450,000 residents among 8 incorporated cities including Santa Barbara.
Ventura County sits between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Counties, with its largest city Oxnard and about 850,000 total residents.
Court Administration and Staff
The Central District of California is led by the Chief Judge, who serves for a seven year term. The Chief Judge is responsible for overseeing the administration of the court.
The United States Marshal for the District is David M. Singer, who is appointed by the President of the United States. The U.S. Marshal is responsible for federal law enforcement related to the court system including protecting judges, transporting prisoners, and seizing assets.
Clerk of Court
The Clerk of Court oversees administrative functions of the court including managing filings, maintaining records, summoning jurors, and more. The current Clerk is Kiry K. Gray.
Types of Cases Handled
The Central District of California handles both civil and criminal matters.
On the civil side, the court oversees cases related to federal statutes and regulatory actions including civil rights, environmental regulations, patent disputes, maritime law, bankruptcy, and many others. The civil caseload covers cases with diversity jurisdiction as well as federal question jurisdiction.
For criminal matters, the court handles cases brought under federal statutes, such as fraud, drug trafficking, bribery, counterfeiting, and immigration violations. The United States Attorney prosecutes federal criminal cases at the District Court level.
In summary, the Central District of California is an expansive federal court district encompassing a large geographic area including the city of Los Angeles and six surrounding counties. With a population of over 19 million, it is one of the busiest district courts in the country handling thousands of federal civil and criminal cases each year at courthouse locations spread throughout the region. The Court has a long history dating back over 170 years and continues to play a vital role in the federal judicial system.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many judges currently serve on the Central District Court?
There are 28 active district judges as of 2023.
What is the busiest courthouse location?
The First Street Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles handles the largest number of cases due to LA County’s huge population.
What was the first courthouse location for this district?
Originally in 1850 court was held in San José before quickly moving to Monterey.
How can I access public records for the Central District Court?
Records can be accessed online through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.
Are jury trials held at every courthouse location?
Yes, all divisional courthouses are equipped to hold federal jury trials. Trials may be moved between locations to balance caseloads.