The United States District Court for the Central District of California (in case citations, C.D. Cal.; commonly referred to as the CDCA or CACD) is a Federal trial court that serves over 19 million people in Southern and Central California, making it the most populous federal judicial district. The district was created on September 18, 1966.
Cases from the Central District are appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (except for patent claims and claims against the United States government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit). Along with the Central District of Illinois, the court is the only district court referred to by the name "Central" – all other courts with similar geographical names instead use the term "Middle."
California was admitted to the union on September 9, 1850, and was divided into two federal trial court districts - Northern and Southern - by Act of Congress on September 28, 1850, 9 Stat. 521. The boundary was at the 37th parallel. The two districts were merged as the United States District Court for the District of California on July 27, 1866 by 14 Stat. 300. On August 5, 1886, Congress re-created the Southern District by 24 Stat. 308, while the northern half was renamed Northern District. The Eastern and Central Districts of California were created on March 18, 1966 from portions of the Northern and Southern Districts by 80 Stat. 75.
Chief judges have administrative responsibilities with respect to their district court. Unlike the Supreme Court, where one justice is specifically nominated to be chief, the office of chief judge rotates among the district court judges. To be chief, 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 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.
When the office was created in 1948, the chief judge was the longest-serving judge who had not elected to retire on what has since 1958 been known as senior status or declined to serve as chief judge. After August 6, 1959, judges could not become or remain chief after turning 70 years old. The current rules have been in operation since October 1, 1982.