Bankruptcy courts play a critical role in the bankruptcy process. These specialized courts preside over all bankruptcy petitions and certain ancillary cases arising from the bankruptcy process. These courts are not like other federal courts. Although they are divided along the same geographic boundaries, bankruptcy courts are distinct entities with their own rules, judges, courtrooms and personnel.
Businesses and individuals who file for bankruptcy in California can expect to have their cases managed by one of these bankruptcy courts, depending on where they live or where their business is located:
Northern District — The Northern District covers the coastal counties from the Oregon border in the north down to and including MontereyCounty in the south. It features 10 bankruptcy judges who sit at four divisions in Oakland, San Jose, Santa Rosa and San Francisco. It initiates about 25,000 new cases per year.
Eastern District — The large Eastern District covers the inland counties from the Oregon border up to and including KernCounty in the south. It has 10 judges who sit in Sacramento, Modesto, Fresno and Bakersfield. It accepts about 34,000 new cases per year.
Central District — The largest in terms of population, the Central District covers Los Angeles and the surrounding counties, excluding Kern, but including Riverside, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. It has 29 judges who sit in Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Riverside and the San Fernando Valley. In terms of volume, it is the largest bankruptcy court in the United States with more than 97,000 new cases per year.
Southern District — The small Southern District includes only San DiegoCounty and ImperialCounty. It has five judges and initiates about 16,000 new cases annually.