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 the 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
There are no pending nominations for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
Article III judges
|Judge Emmet Sullivan||1947||Washington, DC||Clinton||06/16/1994 - Present||Louis Oberdorfer||Howard University, '68||Howard University, '71|
|Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly||1943||New York, NY||Clinton||03/26/1997-Present||Harold Greene||Catholic U. of America, 1965||Catholic U. of America, 1968|
|Chief Judge Richard Roberts (District of Columbia)||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||03/14/2011 - Present'||Thomas Hogan||Yale, 1985||Yale Law, 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||03/22/2012 - Present||Ricardo Urbina||Florida State U., 1984||University of Pennsylvania Law, 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|
|Judge Randolph D. Moss||1961||Springfield, Ohio||Hamilton College, 1983||Yale Law, 1986|
|Judge Amit Priyavadan Mehta||1971||Patan, Gujarat, India||Obama||12/16/2014-Present||Ellen Huvelle||Georgetown University, 1993||University of Virginia School of Law, 1997|
Active Article III judges by appointing political party
This graph displays the percent of active judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.
|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|
|Senior Judge Patricia A. Wynn||H.W. Bush||1990-Present||Radcliffe College||Yale University|
Senior judges by appointing political party
This graph displays the percent of senior judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.
|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.|
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 hears 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.
For a searchable list of decisions from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, please see: D.C. District Court Searchable Opinions
|• Socialist political candidate’s suit against FEC fails in court (2014)||Click for summary→|
|In July 2014, Judge Rudolph Contreras found that Dan La Botz, an Ohio Socialist who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010, lacked standing to file suit against the Federal Election Commission (FEC). In the underlying case, La Botz filed a complaint with the FEC, alleging that he hadn’t be notified about televised debates between candidates, and was thus excluded from them. The FEC dismissed La Botz’s complaint, and La Botz brought suit twice in the D.C. Circuit in response. By the time La Botz filed his second suit, he had moved to New York, which led the FEC to claim he no longer had standing. Judge Contreras agreed, noting:
| • Dept. of Justice challenges US Airways-American Airline merger (2013-2014)|
|Click for summary→|
|Judge Kollar-Kotelly presided over the Justice Department's (DOJ) challenge of the merger between US Airways and AMR, the company that owned American Airlines. The DOJ attempted to block the merger through antitrust laws, alleging that it would create price increases and cause "substantial harm" to consumers. The companies fought the lawsuit in court, insisting that the merger would give customers more choices in flights.
In recent years, the Department of Justice allowed for the mergers of Delta and Northwest Airlines, and United and Continental.
Request for stay denied
|• Government won’t face charges in fishing regulations case (2014)||Click for summary→|
|On February 20, 2014, Judge James E. Boasberg found that the federal government was immune to claims concerning groundfish overfishing laws, noting that the National Marine Fisheries Service's and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's amended procedures to monitor commercial fishing were neither arbitrary nor capricious. In his opinion, Judge Boasberg further remarked that the plaintiffs failed to show that the government’s new system was more concerned with costs than accountability.
| • 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.|
|• U.S. Peace Corps need not comply with FOIA request (2013)||Click for summary→|
|On September 19, 2013, Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled that the U.S. Peace Corps did not need to release information concerning its annual program-by-program volunteer survey under the Freedom of Information Act, noting that the plaintiff, Charles Ludlam, "failed to demonstrate a substantial public interest in program-by-program results." Judge Sullivan originally denied the request in March 2013.
| • 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 James 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 would 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 were sought in order to use resources more efficiently, as many of the schools targeted were in areas of the city where charter schools were prevalent, and enrollment had dropped markedly. The closures would displace over 2,700 students, all but two of whom were 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 the opinion was released, 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’s 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 Judge Reggie Walton, the federal trial lasted nine weeks and featured heated testimony from all sides.
Guantanamo detainee cases
The D.C. District Court took an important role in the Guantanamo Bay detainee cases.
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 court's 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 courthouse 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 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.
- United States District Court for the District of Columbia, "Official Website"
- United States District Court for the District of Columbia, "Opinions"
- United States District Court for the District of Columbia, "Judges"
- Federal Judicial Center, "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, "U.S. Attorneys Listing," accessed on September 27, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- New York Daily News, "Justice Department challenges proposed merger of American Airlines and US Airways," August 13, 2013
- Wall Street Journal, "Airline Judge a Familiar Face in Antitrust," August 14, 2013
- Third Branch News, "Shutdown, Holdup for the Courts," October 7, 2013
- CNN Money, "US Air and American Airlines reach deal with Justice to allow merger," November 12, 2013
- Dallas Morning News, "Federal Judge gives final approval to settlement between DOJ, American Airlines and US Airways," April 25, 2014
- Star-Telegram Sky Talk Blog, "Federal judge approves American-DOJ settlement agreement," April 25, 2014
- Courthouse News Service, "AARP Trademark," January 17, 2014
- 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
- 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
- Federal Judicial Center, "History of the Federal Judiciary," accessed on September 27, 2014
- 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," accessed on September 27, 2014
- United States District Court for the District of Columbia, "Courthouse History," accessed on September 27, 2014
Chief Judge: Richard Roberts (District of Columbia) • Emmet Sullivan • Colleen Kollar-Kotelly • Rosemary Collyer • Reggie Walton • John Bates • Richard Leon • James E. Boasberg • Amy B. Jackson • Beryl A. Howell • Rudolph Contreras • Ketanji Brown Jackson • Christopher Reid Cooper • Tanya S. Chutkan • Randolph D. Moss • Amit Priyavadan Mehta
|Magistrate judges||Alan Kay • Deborah Robinson •|
|Former Article III judges||
Michael Boudin • Thomas Anderson (District of Columbia) • William Matthew Merrick • David Kellogg Cartter • George Purnell Fisher • Abram Baldwin Olin • Andrew Wylie • David Campbell Humphreys • Arthur MacArthur • Walter Smith Cox • Alexander Burton Hagner • Charles Pinckney James • Edward Franklin Bingham • Martin Montgomery • Andrew Coyle Bradley • Charles Cleaves Cole • Louis Emory McComas • Thomas H. Anderson • Job Barnard • Harry Clabaugh • Ashley Mulgrave Gould • Jeter Connelly Pritchard • Wendell Phillips Stafford • Daniel Thew Wright • Thomas Jennings Bailey • James Harry Covington • William Hitz • Walter Irving McCoy • Frederick Lincoln Siddons • Adolph Hoehling • Peyton Gordon • Louis Oberdorfer • James Robertson • Ricardo Urbina • Henry Kennedy • Harold Leventhal • Alfred Adams Wheat • Jesse Corcoran Adkins • Joseph Winston Cox • Oscar Raymond Luhring • Fred Dickinson Letts • Daniel William O'Donoghue • James McPherson Proctor • Bolitha Laws • Thomas Goldsborough • James W. Morris • Thomas Penfield Jackson • Walter Bastian • Edward Tamm • William Bryant • Howard Corcoran • Edward Curran • Edward Eicher • Thomas Flannery • Oliver Gasch • Gerhard Gesell • June Green • Harold Greene • Stanley Harris • George Hart • Norma Johnson • Alexander Holtzoff • William Jones (District of Columbia) • Richmond Keech • James Kirkland • Burnita Matthews • Joseph McGarraghy • Matthew McGuire • Charles McLaughlin • John Penn • David Pine • John Pratt • George Revercomb • Charles Richey • Aubrey Robinson • Spottswood Robinson • Henry Schweinhaut • John Sirica • John Lewis Smith • Stanley Sporkin • Joseph Waddy • Leonard Walsh • Luther Youngdahl • Barrington Daniels Parker, Sr. • Robert Leon Wilkins •
|Former Chief judges||
David Kellogg Cartter • Edward Franklin Bingham • Harry Clabaugh • James Harry Covington • Walter Irving McCoy • Royce Lamberth • Thomas Hogan • Alfred Adams Wheat • Fred Dickinson Letts • Bolitha Laws • William Bryant • Edward Curran • Edward Eicher • George Hart • Norma Johnson • William Jones (District of Columbia) • Richmond Keech • Matthew McGuire • John Penn • David Pine • Aubrey Robinson • John Sirica • John Lewis Smith •