United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
- 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 Eastern District of Louisiana is a federal trial court based in New Orleans. It is one of ninety-four United States district courts. When decisions of the court are appealed, they are appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals based in downtown New Orleans at the John Minor Wisdom Federal Courthouse.
Vacancy warning level
There are no pending nominations for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Article III judges
|Judge Helen Berrigan||1948||New Rochelle, NY||Clinton||03/10/1994-Present||2001-2008||Patrick Carr||University of Wisconsin, B.A., 1969||Louisiana State U. Law, J.D., 1977|
|Judge Martin Feldman||1934||St. Louis, MO||Reagan||10/5/1983-Present||Jack Gordon||Tulane University, 1955||Tulane Law School, 1957|
|Chief Judge Sarah Vance||1950||Donaldsonville, LA||Clinton||09/29/1994 - Present||2008 - Present||Henry Mentz||Louisiana State U., B.A., 1971||Tulane Law School, J.D., 1978|
|Judge Eldon Fallon||1939||New Orleans, LA||Clinton||05/10/1995 - Present||Adrian Duplantier||Tulane U., B.A., 1959||Tulane Law, J.D., 1962|
|Judge Ivan Lemelle||1950||Opelousas, LA||Clinton||04/7/1998 - Present||Veronica Wicker||Xavier U., B.S., 1971||Loyola Law, J.D., 1974|
|Judge Carl Barbier||1944||New Orleans, LA||Clinton||10/01/1998 - Present||Okla Jones||Southeastern Louisiana U., B.A., 1966||Loyola Law, J.D., 1970|
|Judge Kurt Engelhardt||1960||New Orleans, LA||W. Bush||12/13/2001 - Present||Morey Sear||Louisiana State U., B.A., 1982||Louisiana State U. Law, J.D., 1985|
|Judge Jay Zainey||1951||New Orleans, LA||W. Bush||02/14/2002 - Present||A.J. McNamara||University of New Orleans, B.S., 1972||Louisiana State U. Law, J.D., 1975|
|Judge Lance Africk||1951||New York, NY||W. Bush||04/17/2002 - Present||Edith Clement||University of North Carolina, B.A., 1973||University of North Carolina Law, J.D., 1975|
|Judge Jane Triche-Milazzo||1957||Napoleonville, LA||Obama||10/11/2011 - Present||Mary Ann Lemmon||Nicholls State U., B.A., 1977||Louisiana State U. Law, J.D., 1992|
|Judge Nannette Jolivette-Brown||1963||Lafayette, LA||Obama||10/3/2011 - Present||Stanwood Duval||University of Southwestern Louisiana, B.A., 1985||Tulane Law School, J.D., 1988|
|Judge Susie Morgan||1953||Winnsboro, LA||Obama||3/28/2012 - Present||University of Louisiana, Monroe, B.A., 1974||Louisiana State U. Law, J.D., 1980|
|Senior Judge Stanwood Duval||Clinton||9/29/1994 - 12/14/2008||12/15/2008 - Present||Louisiana State U., B.A., 1964||Louisiana State U. Law, LL.B., 1966|
|Senior Judge Frederick Heebe||L.B. Johnson||03/26/1966 - 08/25/1992||1972 - 1992||8/26/1992 - Present||Tulane U., B.A., 1943||Tulane Law, LL.B., 1949|
|Senior Judge A.J. McNamara||Reagan||06/21/1982 - 06/08/2001||1999 - 2001||06/09/2001 - Present||Louisiana State U., B.S., 1959||Loyola Law, J.D., 1968|
|Senior Judge Mary Ann Lemmon||Clinton||07/25/1996 - 12/31/2010||01/01/2011 - Present||Loyola U.||Loyola Law, J.D., 1964|
|Senior Judge Peter Beer||Carter||11/27/1979 - 04/11/1994||04/12/1994 - Present||Tulane U., B.B.A., 1949||Tulane Law School, LL.B., 1952|
|Magistrate Judge Daniel Knowles||01/06/2003 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge Karen Wells Roby||02/22/1999 - Present||Xavier U., B.S., 1983||Tulane Law, J.D., 1987|
|Magistrate Judge Joseph Wilkinson|
|Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan|
|Magistrate Judge Michael B. North||3/1/2014-Present||Louisiana State U.||Tulane Law, J.D.|
The Eastern District of Louisiana has original jurisdiction over cases filed within its jurisdiction. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law. Like all U.S. district courts, the court has original jurisdiction over civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States; certain civil actions between citizens of different states; civil actions within the admiralty or maritime jurisdiction of the United States; criminal prosecutions brought by the United States; and many other types of cases and controversies. It also has appellate jurisdiction over a very limited class of judgments, orders, and decrees.
|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 of the Eastern District of Louisiana.
| • Deepwater Horizon oil spill cases (2010-2014)|
Judge(s):Carl Barbier (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, 792 F. Supp. 2d 926/No. MDL 2179)
|Click for summary→|
|Judge Carl Barbier presided over the consolidated cases resulting from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, commonly referred to as the Deepwater Horizon spill. Barbier was chosen by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on August 10, 2010.
In response to the press generated by this case, the Eastern District of Louisiana created a separate page for rulings in the case. To learn more about those rulings or read the official documents, visit: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, MDL-2179, Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon."
| • Ex-mayor of New Orleans convicted in conspiracy trial (2014)|
Judge(s):Helen Berrigan (U.S. v. Nagin)
|Click for summary→|
|On February 12, 2014, Judge Helen Berrigan presided over the nine-day trial of C. Ray Nagin, the former mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana. Nagin was convicted by a jury on 20 corruption-related to charges, including conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services wire fraud.
Nagin will be sentenced on his birthday, June 11, 2014, and will likely receive a sentence of fifteen years or more. Nagin’s trial in Judge Berrigan’s courtroom was precedential in that he was the first New Orleans mayor to ever be tried and convicted on corruption charges.
| • Danziger Bridge convictions overturned after prosecutorial misconduct uncovered (2013)|
Judge(s):Kurt Engelhardt (U.S. v. Bowen, at al, 2:10-cr-00204-KDE-SS)
|Click for summary→|
|On September 17, 2013, Judge Kurt Engelhardt granted a motion for a new trial filed by the five former New Orleans police officers convicted in the Danziger Bridge shootings and subsequent cover-up in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In the underlying case, four of the officers were accused of firing upon a group of civilians on the bridge, killing two and injuring others, while a fifth officer was accused of covering up what happened on the bridge during his investigation of the incident. The group of officers was convicted in 2011, but requested a new trial following an online commenting scandal involving the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Orleans. Three federal prosecutors were implicated, including former Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sal Perricone and Jan Mann, as well as Karla Dobinski, an attorney in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. The three posted "inflammatory invectives, accusatory screeds, and vitriolic condemnations" about the defendants in the Danziger Bridge case on NOLA.com while legal proceedings were still ongoing, including calls for a guilty verdict. In his fiery 129-page opinion, Engelhardt overturned the police officers' convictions, citing "grotesque prosecutorial misconduct," and going on to call the prosecutors' anonymous online discourse "bizarre and appalling." Engelhardt concluded his discussion of the case by noting that "[r]e-trying this case is a very small price to pay in order to protect the validity of the verdict in this case, the institutional integrity of the Court, and the criminal justice system as a whole."|
| • Drywall cases (2009-2011)|
Judge(s):Eldon Fallon (Fernandez v. Knauf, et.al, 2:09-md-02047-EEF-JCW)
|Click for summary→|
|Judge Fallon presided over a trial for many homeowners who sued Knauf Plasterboard because the drywall contained a sulfur-like substance that caused it to deteriorate, causing concerns that their homes may be unlivable.
The judge heard the case as part of 600 different cases that were consolidated into a special multi-district litigation case that would allow many other home owners to settle their cases out of court.
On November 3, 2009, Judge Fallon certified class action status for the lawsuit so litigants across the country could pursue their cases in Louisiana as part of one huge case.
Judge Fallon ruled on April 8, 2010, that Taishan Gypsum must pay $2.6 million dollars in damages to seven Virginia homeowners. Taishan Gypsum was also ordered to remove the drywall from eight homes in which the material was installed. The ruling that Judge Fallon made was the first of a series of rulings that would determine the outcomes of other rulings, as there were over 2,100 cases pending in federal courts involving different Chinese drywall manufacturers.
The first fully contested trial in the drywall case resulted in a verdict on April 27, 2010. The judge ordered drywall manufacturer Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. Ltd to pay a New Orleans couple $164,000 plus all necessary attorneys' fees after their drywall products damaged the home of Tatum and Charlene Hernandez in Louisiana.
In December 2011, Knauf proposed an unlimited settlement to repair the homes with the defective drywall. In addition, the company offered $30 million for those who reported health problems because of the material.
Courtroom documents: Chinese drywall case
| • Hospital construction (2010)|
Judge(s):Eldon Fallon (National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States v. United States Department of Veterans Affairs, et al, Case 2:09-cv-05460-EEF-JCW)
|Click for summary→|
|Judge Fallon ruled against two preservationists who did not want the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs and the State of Louisiana to build two new hospitals near the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana. On March 31, 2010, Judge Fallon found no reason to prevent the building project valued at $2 billion to move forward. The judge's ruling found that there were enough environmental impact studies completed before moving the project forward, a main objection by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.|
| • Clipper Estates case (2009-2010)|
Judge(s):Martin Feldman (Joffroin v. Tufaro, 606 F. 3d 235)
|Click for summary→|
|Judge Feldman dismissed a lawsuit filed by fifty people who lived in the Clipper Estates in suburban New Orleans claiming of violations of the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. The residents sued on allegations that the owner of Clipper Estates - also the President of the New Orleans Home Builders Association - used money he assessed against them after Hurricane Katrina for personal purposes instead of improving the subdivision as he promised. Judge Feldman dismissed the lawsuit claiming the plaintiffs had no standing under RICO.
Appeal to Fifth CircuitThe case was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, where judges Thomas Reavley, Edward Prado, and Priscilla Owen affirmed Feldman's decision. It was determined that the plaintiffs in the case did not have standing after applying the three-part test from Whalen v. Carter, 954 F.2d 1087, 1093 (5th Cir.1992).
| • Road home thief case (2009)|
Judge(s):Sarah Vance (USA v. Dowl, 2:08-cr-00164-SSV-SS)
|Click for summary→|
|Judge Vance presided in the case of Barbara Simmons Dowl, who was caught for her role in the collection of Road Home funds. Dowl was convicted of theft, making false statements, and wire fraud in June 2009. Judge Vance sentenced Dowl to nearly six years in prison on October 7, 2009, one more year than the federal sentencing minimum, citing the emotional distress of victims for the additional time.|
Federal courts in Lousiana were established by Congress on March 26, 1804, with one post to cover the territory of Orleans. This was the one and only time that Congress granted a district court with the same jurisdiction as the state courts to a territory. On March 3, 1823, Congress divided the district into the Eastern District of Louisiana and the Western District of Louisiana. On February 13, 1845, Congress consolidated the districts into one district, with one post over the entire state. On March 3, 1849, Congress again divided the district into the Eastern District of Louisiana and the Western District of Louisiana only to reunite it into one district again on July 27, 1866. Finally, Congress divided the district for the last time on March 3, 1881. Then on December 18, 1971, Congress split the Middle District of Louisiana from the two existing districts, resulting in the current jurisdictions. Over time six additional judicial posts were added to the Western District of Louisiana for a total of seven posts.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the Eastern District of Louisiana:
|March 26, 1804||2 Stat. 283||1(Whole State)|
|March 3, 1823||3 Stat. 774||1(1 shared)|
|February 13, 1845||5 Stat. 722||1(Whole State)|
|March 3, 1849||9 Stat. 401||1|
|July 27, 1866||14 Stat. 300||1(Whole state)|
|March 3, 1881||21 Stat. 507||1|
|March 18, 1938||52 Stat. 110||2|
|May 19, 1961||75 Stat. 80||4|
|March 18, 1966||80 Stat. 75||8|
|June 2, 1970||84 Stat. 294||10|
|December 18, 1971||85 Stat. 741||9|
|October 20, 1978||92 Stat. 1629||13|
|October 6, 1997||111 Stat. 1173||12|
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 Eastern District of Louisiana, see former federal judges of the Eastern District of Louisiana.
The Eastern District of Louisiana has only one federal courthouse.
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
- Judges of the Eastern District of Louisiana
- Magistrate Judges of the of Eastern District of Louisiana
- U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana
- Opinions of the Eastern District of Louisiana
- Offices of the United States Attorneys, Official list
- Legal Information Institute, 28 U.S.C. § 1331
- Legal Information Institute, 28 U.S.C. § 1332
- Legal Information Institute, 28 U.S.C. § 1333
- Legal Information Institute, Title 28, United States Code, Chapter 85
- Under Legal Information Institute, 28 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1), for example, the U.S. district courts are authorized to hear appeals from final judgments, orders, and decrees of U.S. bankruptcy judges.
- Cornell Law School, 28 U.S.C. § 98(a)
- Businessweek, "New Orleans judge to handle most Gulf spill suits," August 10, 2010
- Bloomberg, "BP Gulf Oil Spill Approves $7.8 Billion Settlement," December 22, 2012
- Times-Picayune, "BP can't see documents of claims investigation, judge rules," February 28, 2014
- The Advocate, "Ex-Mayor Ray Nagin convicted on 20 charges," February 16, 2014
- Federal Bureau of Investigation, "C. Ray Nagin, Former New Orleans Mayor, Indicted on Federal Bribery, Honest Services Wire Fraud, Money Laundering, Conspiracy, and Tax Charges," January 18, 2013
- U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana, "C. Ray Nagin, Former New Orleans Mayor, Convicted on Federal Bribery, Honest Services Wire Fraud, Money Laundering, Conspiracy, and Tax Charges," February 12, 2014
- Times Picayune, "Judge grants new trial for ex-New Orleans police officers convicted in notorious Danziger Bridge slayings after Hurricane Katrina," September 17, 2013
- Main Justice, "Judge Blasts 'Grotesque Prosecutorial Misconduct' in Tossing Danziger Bridge Case," September 17, 2013
- Gant Daily, "Plenty of Misconduct, 129 Pages of One Judge’s Disbelief," September 20, 2013
- Daily Business Review, "Federal Judge Puts Chinese Drywall Cases on 'Rocket Docket," August 11, 2009
- Reuters, "Federal Judge Announces Breakthrough Agreement in Chinese Drywall Litigation," November 3, 2009
- Bloomberg, "Judge Awards $2.6 Million in Chinese Drywall Suit," April 8, 2010
- Herald-Tribune, "New Orleans federal judge finds for drywall victims," April 27, 2010
- United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, "MDL NO. 2047," December 21, 2011
- Insurance Journal, "Judge Urged to Approve Chinese Drywall Settlements," November 15, 2012
- WWL-TV, "Judge OKs hospital projects in New Orleans," March 31, 2010
- NOLA.com, "Clipper Estates lawsuit dismissed by federal judge," September 14, 2009
- Joffroin v. Tufaro, "606 F. 3d 235 - Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit 2010," May 11, 2010
- NOLA.com, "Federal judge takes harsh line in sentencing Road Home thief," October 7, 2009
- History of the Districts of Louisiana on the Federal Judicial Center website
- United States Courts, Frequently Asked Questions
- United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009
Chief Judge: Sarah Vance • Helen Berrigan • Martin Feldman • Eldon Fallon • Ivan Lemelle • Carl Barbier • Kurt Engelhardt • Jay Zainey • Lance Africk • Jane Triche-Milazzo • Nannette Jolivette-Brown • Susie Morgan
|Magistrate judges||Daniel Knowles • Karen Wells Roby • Joseph Wilkinson • Sally Shushan • Michael B. North •|
|Former Article III judges||
Thomas Porteous • John Dick • Thomas Bolling Robertson • Samuel Hadden Harper • Philip Kissick Lawrence • Theodore Howard McCaleb • Edward Henry Durell • Edward Coke Billings • Edith Clement • Alvin Rubin • Charles Parlange • Rufus Edward Foster • Eugene Davis Saunders • Charles Schwartz • Marcel Livaudais • Charlton Reid Beattie • Wayne Borah • Louis Henry Burns • Robert Ainsworth • George Arceneaux • Edward Boyle • Adrian Caillouet • Patrick Carr • Fred Cassibry • Herbert Christenberry • Robert Collins • James Comiskey • Adrian Duplantier • Frank Ellis • Jack Gordon • Okla Jones • Henry Mentz • Lansing Mitchell • Morey Sear • Elmer West • Roger West • Veronica Wicker • James Wright •
|Former Chief judges|