JOHN S. RHOADES FEDERAL JUDICIAL CENTER
On March 30, 2015, the John S. Rhoades Federal Judicial Center was formally named in a ceremony led by the General Services Administration. The congressional delegation of the Honorable Susan Davis, Honorable Darrell Issa, Honorable Scott Peters and Honorable Juan Vargas were all in attendance and spoke. Speeches memorializing Judges John S. Rhoades, James M. Carter and Judith N. Keep were given by the Honorable Mary M. Schroeder of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Honorable J. Clifford Wallace of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Honorable Judith McConnell of the California Fourth Appellate District, and Brigadier General Michael I. Neil, USMC (Ret.) former law partner of John Rhoades. Current Southern District of California Chief Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz closed the ceremony. Judge John S. Rhoades helped save the old federal downtown courthouse, built in 1913, from demolition. It is now on the National Register of Historic places and houses the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
The judicial center integrates the Edward J. Schwartz Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, the Jacob Weinberger U.S. Courthouse, the James M. Carter and Judith N. Keep U.S. Courthouse and the Metropolitan Correctional Center with the surrounding gardens, plazas, water feature and pedestrian paths.
JAMES M. CARTER AND JUDITH N. KEEP UNITED STATES
Judge James M. Carter was the first chief judge of the district, which was created in 1966 and Judge Judith N. Keep was the first female federal judge in San Diego and the first female chief judge.
The James M. Carter and Judith N. Keep Courthouse is located immediately west of the Edward J. Schwartz Courthouse, rising 16 stories above Broadway and State Streets. Initial space has been provided for 6 full-size district courtrooms and 12 chambers suites, with backfill space in the building for 8 additional courtrooms and chambers suites. Offices of the Clerk of Court, U.S. Pretrial Services and the U.S. Marshals Service are located in the Carter/Keep Courthouse, bringing these elements of the court together. Secure underground corridors and an 80,000 square foot, landscaped plaza connect the Carter/Keep Courthouse to the existing Schwartz Courthouse, which remains a full-time service courthouse. The building has attained the LEED (gold) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
EDWARD J. SCHWARTZ U.S. COURTHOUSE
In addition to the new Carter/Keep Courthouse, the Edward J. Schwartz U.S. Courthouse houses many District and Magistrate Judges and was commissioned in 1976.
On September 16, 1994, the building name was officially changed to the Edward J. Schwartz U.S. Courthouse, in honor of former U.S. District Judge Edward J. Schwartz, who was instrumental in ensuring that the courthouse was funded and built.
The building originally housed the District Court, the Bankruptcy Court, all Clerk’s Office staff, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Marshals Service. Because of the need for additional space, in 1994 the Bankruptcy Court was moved into the renovated Jacob Weinberger Courthouse, and in 1995 the Clerk’s Office was moved into the adjacent Federal Office Building. In November 2012, the Clerk’s Office moved to the Carter/Keep Courthouse. The building currently houses 12 District Judges and 4 Magistrate Judges.
JACOB WEINBERGER U.S. COURTHOUSE
The U.S. Post Office and Custom House was commissioned on April 5, 1913. The building is an eclectic design, blending classic and colonial revival influences that uniquely recognize San Diego‘s Hispanic heritage.
Over the years, space was added and various federal agencies moved in and out. In 1961, however, the building was designated the United States Courthouse, and became the seat of the Southern District of California when the District was created in 1966.
Following the completion of a new Federal Office Building and the Schwartz Courthouse in 1976, the historic building‘s future became uncertain until it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. On April 29, 1994, following four years of extensive renovation, the staff of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of California took residence in the magnificently restored historic landmark.
THE EL CENTRO U.S. COURTHOUSE
The El Centro U.S. Courthouse, located in the Imperial Valley, reflects the dignity of the Court and a respect for the desert in which it is located. The main entry provides an appropriate level of grandeur with a 40-foot high rotunda and tall clerestory windows. Natural daylight illuminates the courtroom without contributing to excessive heat gain in the desert climate. Much of the art of the courthouse is incorporated into the landscape. There is a water feature symbolizing the American Canal, irrigation, and the importance of agriculture to the Imperial Valley. Palm groves and cactus gardens add native decorative elements.
The El Centro Courthouse has one courtroom and chambers space for a full-time U.S. Magistrate Judge. The building also houses the Clerk‘s Office, U.S. Probation, U.S. Pretrial Services, and the U.S. Marshals Service. Court is in session every day in El Centro for criminal arraignments and other criminal felony pretrial hearings. The courtroom is also used for civil proceedings and monthly Bankruptcy 341 meetings.