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GSA celebrates naming of San Diego's newest U.S. Courthouse and Federal Judicial Center

By Scott Nielsen

Judges Rhoades, Carter, and Keep

Judges Rhoades, Carter, and Keep

The U.S. General Services Administration, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, the San Diego area congressional delegation, as well as other local community leaders and family and friends of the honored judges gathered in San Diego on March 30 for the official naming of the John Rhoades Federal Judicial Center and the James M. Carter and Judith N. Keep United States Courthouse.

Judges Rhoades, Carter, and Keep were nominated for this distinguished honor by the local San Diego legal community for their dedication and significant impact in Southern California. The Bill, which officially named the courthouse and judicial center, was co-sponsored by Representatives Scott Peters, Darrell Issa and Susan Davis and was signed into law by President Obama in December 2014.

GSA Acting Administrator Denise Turner Roth said it is fitting that this Judicial Center and Courthouse are named after individuals who were so committed to San Diego.

“Their legacy can still be felt in the democratic ideals that Judge Rhoades helped protect; the Southern District of California that Judge Carter fought for; and the groundbreaking progress that Judge Keep made for women,” Roth said. “Now, at the heart of a renaissance in the community they loved, this courthouse will be a lasting symbol of what they gave back to this City."

Throughout the ceremony, guest speakers from both the congressional delegation and the legal community spoke highly of each honoree sharing stories about their personal interactions with the judges and impact of their deeds on the community.

"This is a fitting tribute to three legal trailblazers who had an enormous impact on the judicial community in San Diego,” said U.S. Congresswoman Susan Davis. “It reflects the sense of San Diego’s legal community, which was asked to provide its input on appropriate names for our new federal courthouse," she said.

Brigadier General Michael Neil, USMC (retired) gave an impassioned speech about his former partner Judge Rhoades’ life beyond the courtroom. “He was a great man and he is remembered fondly throughout the community,” Neil said.

Judge Rhoades led the efforts to save and restore the historic Jacob Weinberger United States Courthouse.

Chief Judge Emeritus Clifford Wallace of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals gave his perspective on the life of Judge Carter. “He played in the first Rose Bowl; started the omnibus pretrial service now used throughout the U.S. today; and even made an effort to learn Spanish so he could present his verdicts in the language when necessary. He gave people sentenced to probation an oval key to jail; many of them were able to give it back.”

"He was the gold standard; none of us, none of us was better. We do not name this building in his honor. His name honors this building,” said Wallace.

Chief Judge Emeritus Mary Schroeder also of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals spoke of Judge Keep’s contagious enthusiasm which she is fondly remembered for as well as being one of the first women in a mostly male dominated field.

"I promised Judy she'd be remembered, and she believed me. But she never would've believed her name would be on a building," Schroeder said.

Chief Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, also spoke of his experiences with Judge Keep.

“I remember she (Judge Keep) was subpoenaed and took the witness stand in a criminal case. However, when the prosecuting attorney yelled ‘objection’ to a particular question, she was the one who yelled ‘Overruled!’,” he said. "The legal community is so fortunate to be able to celebrate the lives of three outstanding jurists by dedicating the new courthouse and the entire judicial center in their names."

The John Rhoades Federal Judicial Center integrates the Edward J. Schwartz Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, the Jacob Weinberger U.S. Courthouse and 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.

The James M. Carter and Judith N. Keep United States Courthouse officially opened its doors in 2012 to meet the increasing workload of the region’s federal court system while enhancing the downtown business core and adjacent residential communities. It houses the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California as well as the U.S. Marshals Service, Clerk of Court, U.S. Pretrial Services, Internal Revenue Service and GSA.

According to Representative Davis, this is only the fourth federal courthouse in our nation to be named after a woman.

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