A New Federal Courthouse for Humboldt County

On July 8, 2013 developers and officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new federal courthouse construction.  The new courthouse will be located in the Airport Business Park in McKinleyville and along with the new courtroom will also provide office space for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the Probation Department, the District Clerk, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Marshal Service.  The single story building will occupy over 22,000 square feet.  The federal courthouse is currently in the post office building on Fifth and H Street in Eureka.  It is one of several branches of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.  The other branches are in San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose.
Many Humboldt County residents wonder what sort of cases end up in the federal courthouse (as opposed to the Humboldt Superior Court at 845 Fifth Street in Eureka).  This depends partly on the type of case and the parties.  The great majority of legal disputes are addressed in California’s state court system (here this is Humboldt Superior Court).  For example, state courts handle cases involving: probate and inheritance issues, real estate, divorces, most criminal cases, contract disputes, traffic violations, and personal injury cases. 
Federal courts, including the one in Eureka’s post office building (which will soon be in McKinleyville), can hear claims arising under federal laws, such as copyright claims cases involving the constitutionality of laws, immigration cases, and other cases where statutes give federal courts jurisdiction.  The federal court can also hear cases where the parties to the lawsuit are from different states and the dispute exceeds $75,000.