United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
- 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 Massachusetts is one of ninety-four United States district courts. When decisions of the court are appealed, they are appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals based in downtown Boston at the John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse.
Vacancy warning level
|Allison Dale Burroughs||Middlebury College, 1983||University of Pennsylvania Law, 1988|
Article III judges
|Judge William G. Young||1940||Huntington, NY||Reagan||4/4/1985 - Present||1999-2005||New Seat| 98 Stat. 333||Harvard U., A.B., 1962||Harvard Law, LL.B., 1967|
|Judge Douglas Woodlock||1947||Hartford, CT||Reagan||6/16/1986 - Present||Wendell Garrity||Yale U., B.A., 1969||Georgetown U., Law, J.D., 1975|
|Judge Nathaniel Gorton||1938||Evanston, IL||H.W. Bush||9/24/1992 - Present||New Seat|104 Stat. 5089||Dartmouth College, A.B., 1960||Columbia Law, LL.B., 1966|
|Judge Richard Stearns||1944||Los Angeles, CA||Clinton||11/24/1993 - Present||John McNaught||Stanford U., B.A., 1968||Harvard Law, J.D., 1976|
|Chief Judge Patti Saris||1951||Boston, MA||Clinton||11/24/1993 - Present||2013 - Present||Walter Skinner||Radcliffe College, B.A., 1973||Harvard Law, J.D., 1976|
|Judge George O'Toole||1947||Worcester, MA||Clinton||5/26/1995 (3/1/2001) - Present||Edward Harrington||Boston College, A.B., 1969||Harvard U. Law, J.D., 1972|
|Judge Dennis Saylor||1955||Royal Oak, MI||W. Bush||6/2/2004-Present||Robert Keeton||Northwestern University, 1977||Harvard University Law, 1981|
|Judge Leo Sorokin||1961||Hartford, Connecticut||Obama||6/10/2014-Present||Yale College,, 1983||Columbia Law School, 1991|
|Judge Timothy Hillman||1948||Chicago, IL||Obama||4/4/2012 - Present||Nancy Gertner||Coe College, B.A., 1970||Suffolk U. Law, J.D., 1973|
|Judge Denise Casper||1968||East Patchogue, NY||Obama||12/20/2010 - Present||Reginald Lindsay||Wesleyan University, 1990||Harvard Law School, 1994|
|Judge Mark G. Mastroianni||1964||Westfield, Massachusetts||Obama||6/4/2014-Present||Michael Ponsor||American International College, 1986||Western New England College of Law, 1989|
|Judge Indira Talwani||1960||Auburndale, Massachusetts||Obama||5/8/2014-Present||Mark Wolf||Harvard, 1982||University of California, Berkeley, 1988|
|Senior Judge Mark Wolf||Reagan||4/4/1985-1/1/2013||2006-2012||1/1/2013-present||Yale U., 1968||Harvard U. Law, 1971|
|Former Judge Edward Harrington||Reagan||2/2/1988 - 3/1/2001||3/1/2001 - Present||College of the Holy Cross, A.B., 1955||Boston College Law School, J.D., 1960|
|Senior Judge Joseph Tauro||Nixon||10/17/1972 - 9/26/2013||1992-1999||9/26/2013 - Present||Brown U., 1953||Cornell Law, 1956|
|Senior Judge Rya Zobel||Carter||3/23/1979-4/1/2014||4/1/2014-Present||Radcliffe College, A.B., 1953||Harvard Law, LL.B., 1956|
|Senior Judge Michael Ponsor||Clinton||4/14/1994 - 8/15/2011||8/15/2011 - Present||Harvard U., B.A., 1969||Yale Law, J.D., 1975|
|Magistrate Judge Kenneth Neiman||1/5/1995-Present||Tufts University (1967)||Harvard University Law School (1971)|
|Magistrate Judge Robert Collings||3/15/1982-Present||Hamilton College (1964)||Harvard Law School (1967)|
|Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler||5/7/1990-Present||Regis College (1967)||Suffolk Law School (1976)|
|Magistrate Judge Judith Dein||7/31/2000-Present||Union College (1976)||Boston College Law School (1979)|
|Magistrate Judge Jerome Niedermeier||2010 - Present||Boston College, B.A., 1967||Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 1972|
|Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal||2010-Present||Haverford College (1985)||Cornell Law School (1989)|
|Magistrate Judge David Hennessy||2013-present||State University of New York||Fordham University School of Law|
|Magistrate Judge Mary Page Kelley||6/16/2014-Present||Smith College, 1981||Harvard Law, 1986|
The District of Massachusetts has original jurisdiction over cases filed within its jurisdiction. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law.
|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 opinions, please see Opinions for the District of Massachusetts.
| • Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Boston Marathon bombings trial (2013)|
Judge(s):George O'Toole (U.S. v. Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 1:13-cr-10200)
|Click for summary→|
|Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, is accused of orchestrating the bombings that took place at the 117th running of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. Tsarnaev's brother, Tamerlan, was also a suspect in the case, but was killed during a police shootout before Tsarnaev's capture. The explosions near the finish line killed three people and wounded 260. Tsarnaev was charged with 30 criminal counts, 17 of which include the death penalty as a possible punishment. While capital punishment is unconstitutional in Massachusetts, Tsarnaev has been charged under federal terrorism laws that allow for the implementation of the death penalty. Tsarnaev's attorneys requested additional time to convince prosecutors to spare their client's life, but Judge George O'Toole denied the defense attorneys' pleas. In the ruling, Judge O'Toole cited the Attorney General's ultimate discretion in the matter, noting that it would be "well beyond the scope of any inherent authority" he had to intervene.
On March 12, 2014, Judge O'Toole set a hearing date of April 16, 2014, which would allow the defense to present arguments as to why the court should end their client's special prison restrictions. In addition, the defense will be allowed to argue in favor of reducing the total number of criminal charges their client faces. Tsarnaev's lawyers believe that "[s]uch proliferation of multiple capital charges arising from each alleged act appears designed to put a thumb on the scales of justice in favor of the death penalty."
| • Boston bombing suspects' hearings (2013)|
Judge(s):Marianne Bowler (United States v. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, No. 13-MJ-02016)
|Click for summary→|
|On April 22, 2013, Judge Bowler presided over the initial appearance of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev while he was hospitalized. He was charged with using a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property for a bombing which caused the death of three civilians and injuries to over 200 more. Though early reports indicated Tsarnaev was unable to speak due to injuries sustained during the manhunt that lead to his capture, later reports confirmed that he was actually able to reveal details of the attack to investigators. Several Republican lawmakers publicly criticized Judge Bowler's actions during the appearance, as reports also indicate that Tsarnaev stopped talking upon Bowler's entering the room and advising him of his right to remain silent. They allege she prevented the collection of valuable intelligence. Bowler's spokesman declined to comment, though a Boston U.S. Attorney's Office representative said there was nothing unusual about the judge's actions. Click here to read the full transcript of Tsarnaev's bedside hearing.
Judge Bowler presided over the court appearances of Tsarnaev's friend, Robel Phillipos, accused of lying to investigators. On May 6, 2013, she ordered his release on $100,000 bond, on the conditions that he remain in his mother's home and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet. The federal prosecutors previously requested he remain detained until his trial, based on the assertion he was a flight risk, but changed their position after meeting and reaching an agreement with his lawyers.Judge Bowler oversaw Phillipos's probable cause hearing on July 12, 2013. On March 6, 2014, she appointed Derege Demissie on a as a taxpayer-funded lawyer to represent Phillipos, even though he had already hired Demissie. The appointment was made on a "procedural basis," as Phillipos was too indigent to pay Demissie.
| • Former Boston mob boss convicted after years in hiding (2013)|
Judge(s):Denise Casper (U.S. v. James J. Bulger, US 99-10371-DJC)
|Click for summary→|
|After nearly two decades spent in hiding, James Joseph "Whitey" Bulger, Jr., the 83-year-old former boss of the Boston mob, was charged in a 32-count indictment including racketeering, money laundering, and murder. Before the case was presented to a jury, Bulger attempted to present an immunity defense to Judge Denise Casper of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, claiming that the late federal prosecutor Jeremiah T. O’Sullivan verbally promised him lifetime immunity for all of his crimes, including murder. Casper, who was described as “cool, calm, and collected,” rejected Bulger's defense in a 31-page ruling.
| • Prisoner sex change (2012)|
Judge(s):Mark Wolf (Kosilek v. Department of Corr, et al, 1:2000-cv-12455)
|Click for summary→|
|Mark Wolf has granted inmate Michelle Kosilek a taxpayer-funded sex-change surgery. Wolf wrote in his ruling on September 4, 2012 that "there is no less intrusive means to correct the prolonged violation of Kosilek's Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care."
Kosilek sued in 2000 and again in 2005 on grounds the State of Massachusetts violated her constitutional rights. Attorneys for the Massachusetts Attorney General felt that the after-effects of the surgery could cause security problems. They said that the surgery would make Kosilek target for sexual assault in the all-male prison. Wolf noted that the Department of Correction's medical officers testified that the surgery was the only adequate treatment.
Kosilek was born a man, but has taken hormone treatments and lives as a woman. Formerly known as Robert, she was convicted of murdering Cheryl Kosilek, her wife, in 1990. She is serving a life term.
Update: On December 19, 2012, Judge Wolf ruled that more than $700,000 were due in attorney's fees for Kosilek.
In his December 19th ruling, Wolf noted that Kosilek’s legal team has offered to forgo legal fees, if the Department of Corrections drop their appeal and moves forward with Kosilek’s gender re-assignment surgery.Wolf was critical of the Department of Corrections in his ruling from the bench, saying, “The repeated violation of constitutional rights of prisoners…costs taxpayers money that is needed for other purposes.”
| • Salvatore DiMasi case (2011-2012)|
Judge(s):Mark Wolf (USA v. DiMasi et al, 1:09-cr-10166-MLW-1)
|Click for summary→|
|Former Massaschusetts House of Representatives Speaker Salvatore DiMasi was convicted on corruption charges in June 2011. He was found guilty of seven of nine charges, including conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and extortion. He was sentenced to eight years in prison as a result of the conviction. In August 2012, DiMasi's attorneys filed an appeal of the conviction, stating that the prosecution did not prove that DiMasi "knowingly" accepted bribes.|
| • Boston Scientific recall (2010)|
Judge(s):Douglas Woodlock (Mississippi Public Employees' Retirement System v. Boston Scientific Corporation, Civil Action No. 05-11934-DPW)
|Click for summary→|
|On April 28, 2010, Judge Woodlock threw out a class action lawsuit filed by the Mississippi Public Employees' Retirement System against Boston Scientific. The judge found that the State of Mississippi failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Taxus Express medical device recall was concealed by the manufacturer. Boston Scientific recalled the product after there were serious injuries and deaths related to the Taxus Express device.|
| • Boston hybrid taxis (2009)|
Judge(s):William G. Young (Ophir v. City Of Boston, Civil Action No. 09-10467-WGY)
|Click for summary→|
|On December 11, 2009, Judge Young ruled in favor of the Boston Taxi Owners Association who sued the City of Boston over a new policy requiring taxi owners to switch to hybrids by 2015. The taxi owners sued on claims that they were bullied by the Boston Police's Hackney Carriage unit to buy the new hybrids. The judge found in his ruling that the new rules instituted by the Boston Police were in violation of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975.|
| • Adam Walsh Act case (2009)|
Judge(s):Joseph Tauro (U.S. v. Hunt, Civil Action No. 07-12063-JLT)
|Click for summary→|
|Judge Tauro on August 19, 2009, became only the second judge to invoke The Adam Walsh Act of 2006 in which allows judges to indefinitely hold child sex offenders in jail if deemed a public danger. The judge found Wayne Hunt of New York a danger after a five day proceeding that found the repeat offender to still be a public danger despite serving multiple prison sentences for sexual offenses.|
| • Elizabeth Hasselbeck case (2009)|
Judge(s):Joseph Tauro (Hassett v. Hasselbeck et al, 1:2009cv11063)
|Click for summary→|
|Judge Tauro on November 16, 2009 dismissed a case against television personality Elizabeth Hasselbeck on charges of plagiarism. Hasselbeck was accused of taking content from a book on Celiac Disease written by Susan Hassett that Hasselbeck used in her book. The judge dismissed the case after the plantiff's attorneys felt they did not had enough evidence to continue their pursuit of the case.|
| • Mitt Romney case (2009)|
Judge(s):Nancy Gertner (Monahan v. Romney, et al, No. 09-2458)
|Click for summary→|
|In 2009, Judge Gertner cleared former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in a wrongful termination case in which the former Chairman of the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission sued the former Governor. The judge ruled in favor of the former Governor saying that William Monahan, the former Civil Service Commission chairman, voluntarily resigned and forfeited his right to due process in his actions. This came after Romney testified in a hearing that an aide approached Monahan to resign but offered him to help find another job.|
| • Fair use download case (2009)|
Judge(s):Nancy Gertner (Sony BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, No. 10-1947)
|Click for summary→|
|Judge Gertner presided in a highly publicized civil trial in which a Massachusetts college student was sued for illegal music downloading.
Capital Records sued Joel Tannenbaum over illegally downloading music on Kazaa, a music sharing program. Tannenbaum was represented by Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson, who was critical of the major record companies unfairly targeting young people in lawsuits.On December 7, 2009, Judge Gertner signed off on a $675,000 jury verdict after a jury found Tannenbaum liable for illegal downloading.
| • Fish seller case (2009)|
|Click for summary→|
|On July 20, 2009, Judge Woodlock ruled that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration cannot shut down a fish seller with cases pending in court. NOAA wanted to impose a shutdown penalty on the Gloucester Seafood Display Auction over three different allegations of fishery law violations. Attorneys for NOAA argued for the immediate action over issues of timing and public perception. However, the judge ruled that NOAA's actions preceded the judicial process and ordered an injunction until further notice. NOAA has been criticized for overstepping its investigative authority.|
The District of Massachusetts was established by Congress with one judicial post on September 24, 1789, and assigned to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eastern Circuit, and then was later reassigned to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in 1801. Over time, beginning in 1922, twelve additional judicial posts were added for a total of thirteen current posts.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the District of Massachusetts:
|September 24, 1789||1 Stat. 73||1|
|September 14, 1922||42 Stat. 837||3(2 temporary)|
|August 19, 1935||49 Stat. 659||3(Temporary posts made permanent)|
|May 31, 1938||52 Stat. 584||4(1 temporary)|
|November 21, 1941||55 Stat. 773||4(Temporary post made permanent)|
|February 10, 1954||68 Stat. 8||5|
|May 19, 1961||75 Stat. 80||6|
|October 20, 1978||92 Stat. 1629||10|
|July 10, 1984||104 Stat. 5089||11(1 temporary)|
|December 1, 1990||104 Stat. 5089||13(Temporary post made permanent)|
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 on the judges of the District of Massachusetts, see former federal judges of the District of Massachusetts.
The District of Massachusetts is served by three federal courthouses.
Cameras to be allowed in the courtroom
The court is participating in a three-year long pilot program that will see video recordings of civil trials in 14 different federal courts. Massachusetts already allows cameras into state courtrooms with special permission, but this is be a new experience for the federal court. Shooting began on October 17, 2011, with a few limitations: criminal trials would not be recorded, the recording of civil cases must have been agreed upon by both parties and the judge, and only official court videos made by court personnel would be allowed. The videos are available to the public on www.uscourts.gov.
- United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts Official Website
- United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Official Website
- Opinions of the District of Massachusetts
- Judges of the District of Massachusetts
- Offices of the United States Attorneys, Official list
- U.S. v. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: Criminal Indictment
- Boston Herald, "Judge won’t give Tsarnaev lawyers more time for death penalty argument," October 18, 2013
- Wicked Local Cambridge', "Judge: No extra time for death penalty decision for Tsarnaev," October 21, 2013 (dead link)
- New York Daily News, "Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could face death penalty: prosecutors," November 12, 2013
- Politico, "Judge denies information to alleged Boston marathon bomber," November 27, 2013
- New York Times, "U.S. Weighs Pursuit of Death Penalty for Suspect in Boston Bombing," January 23, 2014
- New York Times, "Judge Sets Nov. 3 as Start of Trial for Boston Bombing Suspect," February 12, 2014
- USA Today, "Judge OKs second death penalty expert for Tsarnaev defense," February 20, 2014
- Boston Globe, "Judge sets Tsarnaev hearing for April 16," March 12, 2014
- Chicago Tribune, "Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev charged," April 22, 2013
- Bloomberg, "Boston Bombing Judge Emerges as Target for Republicans," May 15, 2013
- Courthouse News Service, "Tsarnaev indicted," June 27, 2013
- Newsday, "Robel Phillipos after release in Boston bombings: 'This is crazy,'" May 7, 2013
- Boston Globe, "Judge orders Cambridge man released on bail," May 6, 2013
- MyFOXBoston, "Hearing for bomb suspect's friend delayed," May 29, 2013
- Boston Globe, "Judge appoints lawyer for Tsarnaev friend," March 6, 2014
- CBS News, "Whitey" Bulger to face charges in Massachusetts," June 23, 2011
- Boston Globe, "US says ‘Whitey’ Bulger immunity unfounded," March 1, 2013
- Bay State Banner, "Judge Denise Casper: ‘Cool, calm and collected’ during Whitey Bulger trial," July 31, 2013
- New York Times, "Bulger Cannot Tell Jury About Immunity Claim, Judge Says," May 2, 2013
- USA Today, "At trial, feds paint 'mayhem' of mobster 'Whitey' Bulger," June 13, 2013
- Los Angeles Times, "How the James 'Whitey' Bulger jury ruled, charge by charge," August 12, 2013
- United States Attorney's Office District of Massachusetts, "Federal Jury Convicts James “Whitey” Bulger," August 12, 2013
- Associated Press via Huffington Post, "Whitey Bulger Defense Costs Total $2.6M Through June," September 13, 2013
- Boston.com, "Whitey Bulger, Boston gangster found responsible for 11 murders, gets life in prison," November 14, 2013
- USA Today, "Mobster 'Whitey' Bulger gets 2 life terms plus 5 years," November 14, 2013
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Associated Press, "Judge: Mass. must pay for killer's sex change," September 4, 2012 (dead link)
- Boston Herald, "Judge to hear arguments in inmate’s sex-change," December 21, 2009
- Boston.com, "Judge: State must pay more than $700,000 in legal fees to attorneys of convicted murder who wants sex change," December 19, 2012
- Metro Boston, "Sal DiMasi convicted of conspiracy, extortion, fraud," June 15, 2011 (dead link)
- BostonHerald.com, "Sal DiMasi sentenced to 8 years in prison on corruption charges," September 9, 2011
- Boston.com, "Former House speaker Sal DiMasi appeals corruption conviction in federal court," August 21, 2012
- MassDevice, "Federal judge tosses securities lawsuit against Boston Scientific," April 29, 2010
- Boston Globe, "Judge clarifies ruling saying Boston can’t force hybrid taxi switch," December 11, 2009
- Boston Globe, "Repeat sexual offender ordered held indefinitely," August 20, 2009
- USA Today, "Mass. judge tosses suit against Hasselbeck," November 17, 2009
- Boston Globe, "Federal judge clears Romney in firing lawsuit," September 4, 2009 (dead link)
- PC World, "Second RIAA Piracy Trial Starts: Defense Tactics Include Feng Shui and Legalized Pot," July 28, 2009
- ComputerWorld, "RIAA vs. Joel Tenenbaum: $675,000 P2P piracy verdict OK'ed," December 8, 2009
- Gloucester Times, "Federal judge backs auction," July 21, 2009 (dead link)
- History of the District of Massachusetts on the Federal Judicial Center website
- United States Courts, Frequently Asked Questions
- United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009
- News Telegram.com, "Cameras can roll in fed court," October 8, 2011