United States District Court for the District of Columbia
- 1 Vacancy warning level
- 2 Active judges
- 3 Jurisdiction
- 4 Caseloads
- 5 Notable cases
- 6 History
- 7 Federal courthouse
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 References
The United States District Court for the District of Columbia is the United States district court that hears cases originating in the District of Columbia with jurisdiction in the federal courts. Cases dealing with the laws of the District of Columbia are heard by this court only under the same circumstances that would cause a case under state law to come before a federal court. Appeals from this court are heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The court sits in the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse located on Constitution Avenue NW. The District has no local district attorney or equivalent, and so local prosecutorial matters also fall into the jurisdiction of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. Assistant United States Attorneys are tasked with prosecution of not only federal crimes but also crimes that would normally be left to the state prosecutor's discretion. Because of this the District has the largest U.S. Attorney's Office in the nation.
Vacancy warning level
|Randolph D. Moss||Hamilton College, A.B., 1983||Yale Law, J.D., 1986|
|Amit Priyavadan Mehta||Georgetown University, 1993||University of Virginia School of Law, 1997|
Article III judges
|Judge Emmet Sullivan||1947||Washington, DC||Clinton||6/16/1994 - Present||Louis Oberdorfer||Howard University '68||Howard University '71|
|Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly||1943||New York, NY||Clinton||3/26/1997 - Present||Harold Greene||Catholic U. of America '65||Catholic U. of America '68|
|Chief Judge Richard Roberts||1953||New York City, NY||Clinton||6/23/1998 - Present||2013 - Present||Charles Richey||Vassar College, 1974||Columbia Law, 1978|
|Judge Rosemary Collyer||1945||Port Chester, MD||W. Bush||11/15/2002-Present||Thomas Jackson||Trinity College, 1968||University of Denver College of Law, 1977|
|Presiding Judge Reggie Walton||1949||North Charleroi, PA||W. Bush||9/24/2001-Present||Stanley Sporkin||West Virginia State College, 1971||American University Law, 1974|
|Judge John Bates||10/11/1946||Elizabeth, NJ||W. Bush||12/14/2001 - Present||Stanley Harris||Wesleyan University, 1968||U. Maryland School of Law, 1976|
|Judge Richard Leon||1949||South Natick, MA||W. Bush||2/19/2002 - Present||Norma Johnson||Holy Cross, A.B., 1971||Suffolk Law School, J.D., 1974|
|Judge James E. Boasberg||1963||San Francisco, CA||Obama||3/14/2011 - Present||Thomas Hogan||Yale, B.A., 1985||Yale Law, J.D., 1990|
|Judge Amy B. Jackson||1954||Baltimore, MD||Obama||3/17/2011-Present||Gladys Kessler||Harvard '76||Harvard Law '79|
|Judge Beryl A. Howell||1956||Fort Benning, GA||Obama||12/27/2010 - Present||Paul Friedman||Bryn Mawr College '78||Columbia University '83|
|Judge Rudolph Contreras||1962||Staten Island, NY||Obama||3/22/2012 - Present||Ricardo Urbina||Florida State U., B.S., 1984||University of Pennsylvania Law, J.D., 1991|
|Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson||1970||Washington, DC||Obama||3/23/2013 - Present||Henry Kennedy||Harvard, B.A., 1992||Harvard Law, J.D., 1996|
|Judge Christopher Reid Cooper||1966||Washington, D.C.||Obama||3/26/2014-Present||Royce Lamberth||Yale, B.A., 1988||Stanford Law, J.D., 1993|
|Judge Tanya S. Chutkan||1962||Kingston, Jamaica||Obama||6/4/2014-Present||George Washington U., B.A., 1983||University of Pennsylvania School of Law, J.D., 1987|
|Senior Judge Royce Lamberth||Reagan||11/13/1987 - 7/15/2013||5/1/2008 - 7/15/2013||U. Texas, Austin '65||U. Texas, Austin '67|
|Senior Judge Thomas Hogan||Reagan||8/20/1982-5/1/2008||2001-2008||5/1/2008-Present||Georgetown University, 1960||Georgetown Law School, 1966|
|Senior Judge Gladys Kessler||Clinton||6/16/1994 - 1/22/2007||1/22/2007 - Present||Cornell '59||Harvard Law '62|
|Senior Judge Ellen Huvelle||Clinton||10/26/1999-6/3/2014||6/3/2014-Present||Wellsley College, 1970||Boston College, 1975|
|Senior Judge Paul Friedman||Clinton||6/16/1994 - 12/31/2009||12/31/2009 - Present||Cornell '65||SUNY Buffalo Law '68|
|Senior Judge Joyce Green||Carter||5/11/1979 - 7/1/1995||7/1/1995 - Present||University of Maryland '49||George Washington University '51|
|Magistrate Judge Alan Kay||9/1991 - Present||George Washington U., B.A., 1957||George Washington U. Law, J.D., 1959|
|Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson||07/18/1988 - Present||Morgan State U.||Emory U. Law, J.D.|
|Magistrate Judge John Facciola||1997-12/1/2014||College of the Holy Cross||Georgetown University Law|
The District Court for the District of Columbia has original jurisdiction over cases filed in the District of Columbia. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law.
The D.C. District Court hear federal cases within the District of Columbia. Its appellate court is the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
|Federal Court Caseload Statistics*|
|Year||Starting case load:||Cases filed:||Total cases:||Cases terminated:||Remaining cases:||Median time(Criminal)**:||Median time(Civil)**:||3 Year Civil cases#:||Vacant posts:##||Trials/Post|
|*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website and reflect the calendar year through September. **Time in months from filing to completion.|
#This statistic includes cases which have been appealed in higher courts. ##This is the total number of months that any judicial posts had spent vacant that year.
| • AARP trademark infringement ruling (2014)|
Judge(s):Colleen Kollar-Kotelly (AARP v. Sycle, 13-0608)
|Click for summary→|
|On January 17, 2014, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled that insurance broker Michael Sycle infringed upon AARP's trademark -- one which is associated with insurance -- imposing more than $600,000 in damages, attorneys' fees, and costs. In the underlying case, AARP filed suit under the Lanham Act and requested $2,000,000 in statutory damages, alleging that Sycle appropriated the non-profit organization's mark to advertise his business, falsely claiming to sell life insurance affiliated with AARP. Under the Lanham Act, statutory damages can rise to $200,000 per counterfeit mark, and reasonable attorneys' fees and costs are granted to deter a defendant's further willful misconduct. Sycle continued to infringe upon AARP's mark despite a cease and desist letter being issued, and never responded to AARP's complaint. Accordingly, a default judgment in the organization's favor was entered on the record. Due to the presence of limited evidence, AARP's default judgment with respect to statutory damages and attorneys' fees was not immediately granted by Kollar-Kotelly, and she asked that a supplemental memorandum be provided in support of the non-profit's total amount of damages and associated legal fees. In that memo, AARP later revised its calculated damages to $583,200, and requested attorneys' fees of approximately $17,740 (a 40 percent discount of the actual fees incurred). After receiving the evidence that was needed, Kollar-Kotelly granted the rest of AARP's motion, entering a default judgment against Sycle in the amount of $600,940.40.|
| • D.C. school closures case (2013)|
Judge(s):James Boasberg (Smith, et al., v. Henderson, Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, et al., 13-420)
|Click for summary→|
|In May 2013, Judge Boasberg ruled against a group of activists, holding that the District of Columbia Public School system could move forward with plans to close 15 schools in the District. The group, including parents and advisory neighborhood commissioners, was seeking an injunction to prevent "irreparable harm" to the students. Judge Boasberg acknowledged, as the plaintiffs had alleged, that the closures will disproportionately affect students of color and disabled students, but held that there was no evidence the officials intended any discrimination. According to city officials, the closures are sought in order to use resources more efficiently, as many of the schools targeted are in areas of the city where charter schools are prevalent, and enrollment has dropped markedly. The closures will displace over 2,700 students, all but two of whom are black or Hispanic. Ultimately, Judge Boasberg found the city had given reasonable justification for the closures as well as the disparate impact on minority students. On the day of the opinion, the Chicago Teachers Union filed two complaints in federal court to stop that city from closing 53 schools, citing the same racially discriminatory effects as the basis of their claim. |
| • Roger Clemens perjury trial (2010-2012)|
Judge(s):Reggie Walton (US v. Clemens)
|Click for summary→|
|Baseball legend Roger Clemens was found not guilty by a jury in his federal perjury trial on June 18, 2012. The jury found him not guilty of all six charges, including all 13 acts of obstruction that were alleged by the government. The trial was referred to as a witch-hunt by Clemens’ defense team.
The verdict was handed down after approximately 10 hours of jury deliberation. Tried in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in front of Reggie Walton, the federal trial lasted nine weeks and featured heated testimony from all sides.
Guantanamo detainee cases
The D.C. District Court has taken an important role in the Guantanamo Bay detainee cases.
A complete list of the court's opinions can be found here.
The first federal district court for the District of Columbia was originally established in 1801 as the U.S. District Court for the District of Potomac. This court had federal district court style jurisdiction over the District of Columbia, parts of Maryland, and parts of Virginia. The courts existence was brief, however, as it was abolished the following year and instead the chief judge of the District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court was instructed, by the Judiciary Act of 1802, to hold two sessions a year as a district court. This ad hoc court exercised the same jurisdiction as a federal district court during these sessions.
The court existed in this form up until 1863, during which the courts for the District of Columbia underwent massive reorganization. That year, Congress, partly concerned about the loyalty of one of the circuit court's judges, passed Act 12 Stat. 762, which abolished both the federal circuit and district court. They were replaced, by the same act that abolished them, with the Supreme Court for the District of Columbia, which possessed the same powers of jurisdiction as a federal circuit court. This court was created with four justices, one of them being designated the chief judge, and any of which could convene a U.S. district court or a local criminal court.
The court, as it was, handled matters primarily of local jurisdiction, but its mix of federal and local jurisdiction made the court's status and relationship to other federal courts unclear. The Supreme Court of the United States, in decisions made in 1927 and 1933, declared that the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia was comparable to U.S. district courts. In 1936 the U.S. Supreme Court changed the name of the Supreme Court for the District of Columbia to the District Court for the District of Columbia, and again in 1948 to the name it carries today, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Following that transition, justices of the court were to be called judges.
Even with these decisions the court still utilized a combination of federal and local jurisdiction until 1971. At that time, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals were created to handle local matters.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the District Court for the District of Columbia:
|March 3, 1863||12 Stat. 762||4|
|June 21, 1870||16 Stat. 160||5|
|February 25, 1879||20 Stat. 320||6|
|December 20, 1928||45 Stat. 1056||7|
|June 19, 1930||46 Stat. 785||9|
|May 31, 1938||52 Stat. 584||12|
|August 3, 1949||63 Stat. 493||15|
Former chief judges
In order to qualify for the office of chief judge in one of the federal courts, 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 in the office of chief judge 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. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a chief judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion.
For more information about the judges of the District of Columbia, see former federal judges of the District of Columbia.
The court is accessible through the Judiciary Square or Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter Metro stations.
The land for the court house was originally obtained by the federal government for the creation of the District of Columbia. It was originally assigned to hold the U.S. Mint but was later changed when the mint remained in Philadelphia. The site was sold by the U.S. government on May 7, 1822 and developed as a commercial and residential district. The current court building was commissioned in 1949 to local architect Louis Justement for his original building. Building commenced in August of 1949 and the building was finally opened in 1952. In March 1977, the courthouse was renamed the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse. Prettyman was a judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1945 to 1971.
- U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia official site
- The court's opinions
- Judges of the court
- Federal Judicial Center's History of the District of Columbia Federal Courts
- The Blog of Legal Times, "Judge's new job opens seat on D.C. Federal Circuit," June 13, 2013
- Courthouse News Service, "DC's chief judge apologizes to press," May 30, 2013
- Courthouse News Service, "No injunction for Guantanamo detainee," May 23, 2013
- The Blog of Legal Times, "Judge says filing errors may prompt review of hundreds of cases," May 22, 2013
- Courthouse News Service, "Employers don't have to publicize union rights," May 14, 2013
- Offices of the United States Attorneys, "Official list," accessed June 3, 2014
- Courthouse News Service, "AARP Trademark," January 17, 2014
- The Washington Post "Judge declines to block D.C. school closures," May 15, 2013
- Courthouse News Service "Judge won't stop public school shuttering in D.C.," May 20, 2013
- MLB.com "Clemens acquitted on all counts in perjury trial" June 18, 2012
- The Chicago Tribune, "Roger Clemens not guilty on all counts in perjury trial," June 18, 2012
- SportingNews MLB "Roger Clemens verdict: Not guilty on all six counts in perjury trial" June 18, 2012
- "History of the Federal Judiciary," at the Federal Judicial Center
- History of the District of Columbia District from the Federal Judicial Center
- United States Courts, Frequently Asked Questions
- United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009
- Google Maps "United States District Court for the District of Columbia," Accessed on January 27, 2011
- United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Courthouse design
- United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Courthouse History
Alan Kay • Deborah Robinson • John Facciola •
|Former Article III judges||
|Former Chief judges||