Press Releases

Rep. Peters’ Bill to Rename Downtown Federal Courthouse Passes U.S. House

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) unanimously passed the House of Representatives. H.R. 1378 would designate the Federal Courthouse at 333 West Broadway in Downtown San Diego as the “James M. Carter and Judith N. Keep United States Courthouse.”

The bill would also designate the complex of 221 West Broadway, 333 West Broadway, 880 Front Street, 325 West F Street, 808 Union Street, and the adjoining plaza as the “John Rhoades Federal Judicial Center.”

“Judges Carter, Keep, and Rhoades dedicated their lives to public service and justice,” Rep. Peters said. “The San Diego County Bar Association and Republican and Democratic community leaders from throughout San Diego agree that this is an appropriate way to honor their legacy.”

Peters continued, “Over the last several years, Congresswoman Susan Davis has led this effort and it was my honor to continue her work when redistricting moved it out of her district. I also want to thank Congressman Darrell Issa for his support in the House, and Senators Feinstein and Boxer for their help as we work together to have it approved by the Senate.”

To see Scott’s speech calling for passage of the bill click HERE or the image below.

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“This is a fitting tribute to three people who had an enormous impact on the judicial community in San Diego,” said Rep. Davis. “In the search, we surveyed San Diego’s legal community to ensure it had a role to determine the most appropriate names for the new courthouse.”

The bill now must be passed by the Senate and signed by the President before the end of the year for it to become law.

Background on H.R. 1378

Judges James M. Carter and Judith N. Keep were trailblazers in the San Diego legal community. Both were tireless in their efforts off the bench to better their local communities, and served as mentors to countless young attorneys and judges in the San Diego region.

Judge Carter was the moving force behind the creation of the Southern District of California. In response to the tremendous population growth in San Diego after WWII, Judge Carter successfully convinced the Judicial Conference of the United States to support the creation of the Southern District. In 1966, after its creation, Judge Carter became the first Chief Judge of the District Court, serving in that position until his appointment to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Keep was instrumental in opening up the San Diego legal field to women. Judge Keep graduated from the University Of San Diego School Of Law as its valedictorian, at a time when fewer than 5 percent of lawyers were women. She then worked as a staff attorney at Defenders, Inc., where she was the first female staff attorney representing indigent criminal defendants in federal court. In 1980, Judge Keep was nominated to become the first female judge for the District Court of the Southern District of California, and later she became the District Court’s first female Chief Judge.

Judge John Rhoades served as a U.S. District Court Judge for 22 years and was widely respected throughout the San Diego legal community. Prior to his legal work he served as a Navy pilot during WWII. He presided over numerous high-profile cases, including the approval of a plan that allowed for the first Latino-majority district in the San Diego City Council. He and his wife were also active supporters of Casa de Cuña, a Tijuana orphanage.