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United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

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Eastern District of Virginia
Fourth Circuit
Judges: 11
Posts: 11
Vacancies: 0
Active judges
Chief: Rebecca Smith
Senior Judges
Magistrate Judges
Former Judges
(Numbers indicate % of seats vacant.)
More than 40%

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia is one of ninety-four United States district courts. It is one of two federal district courts serving the Commonwealth of Virginia. When decisions of the court are appealed, they are appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals based in downtown Richmond, Virginia, at the Lewis F. Powell Federal Courthouse.

The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. The current district attorney is Dana Boente.[1] The U.S. Attorney's office also manages the Project Safe Neighborhoods program within the district to reduce gun violence (part of a nationwide program), and is involved with federal initiatives on drug trafficking, terrorism, cybercrime, and the prevention/combating of elder care abuse.[2]

Vacancy warning level

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia's vacancy warning level is green. The court currently has no vacancies.

Pending nominations

There are no pending nominations for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Active judges

Article III judges

JudgeBornHomeAppointed byActiveChiefPreceededBachelorsLaw
Judge Mark Davis1962Portsmouth, VirginiaW. Bush 06/23/2008 - PresentT.S. EllisUniversity of Virginia, B.A., 1984Washington & Lee U. Law, J.D., 1988
Judge Anthony Trenga1949Wilkensburg, PAW. Bush 10/14/2008 - PresentWalter KelleyPrinceton U., A.B., 1971University of Virginia Law, J.D., 1974
Judge Liam O'Grady1950Newark, NJW. Bush 07/11/2007 - PresentClaude HiltonFranklin & Marshall College, B.A., 1973George Mason U. Law, J.D., 1977
Judge Gerald Lee1952Washington, DCClinton 10/01/1998 - PresentJames CacherisAmerican U., B.A., 1973American U. Law, J.D., 1976
Judge Leonie Brinkema1944Teaneck, NJClinton 10/20/1993 - PresentAlbert Bryan Jr.Rutgers U., B.A., 1966Cornell Law, J.D., 1976
Chief Judge Rebecca Smith1949Hopewell, VAH.W. Bush 10/25/1989 - Present2011 - PresentDavid WarrinerCollege of William and Mary, B.A., 1971College of William and Mary Law, J.D., 1979
Judge Raymond Jackson1949Sussex, VAClinton 11/22/1993 - PresentRichard WilliamsNorfolk State U., B.A., 1970University of Virginia Law, J.D., 1973
Judge Henry Hudson1947Washington, DCW. Bush 08/02/2002 - PresentNew Seat|114 Stat. 2762American U., B.A., 1969American U. Law, J.D., 1974
Judge Hannah Lauck1963Alexandria, VirginiaObama 6/10/2014-PresentJames SpencerWellesley College, 1986Yale Law, 1991
Judge John A. Gibney1951Coatesville, PAObama 12/16/2010 - PresentRobert PayneCollege of William & Mary, 1973University of Virginia Law, 1976
Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen1960Philadelphia, PAObama 05/11/2011 - PresentJerome FriedmanKutztown State College, B.A., 1982North Carolina Central U. Law, J.D., 1985

Senior judges

JudgeAppointed byActiveChiefSeniorBachelorsLaw
Senior Judge James SpencerReagan 10/14/1986-3/25/20142004-20113/25/2014-PresentClark College, Atlanta, Georgia, 1971Harvard Law, 1974
Senior Judge T.S. EllisReagan 08/06/1987 - 03/31/200704/01/2007 - PresentPrinceton, B.S.E., 1961Harvard, J.D., 1969
Senior Judge Claude HiltonReagan 07/11/1985 - 12/30/20051997 - 200412/31/2005 - PresentOhio State U., B.S., 1963American U. Law, J.D., 1966
Senior Judge James CacherisReagan 12/01/1981 - 03/29/19981991 - 199703/30/1998 - PresentUniversity of Pennsylvania, B.S., 1955George Washington U. Law, J.D., 1960
Senior Judge Robert DoumarReagan 12/03/1981 - 04/29/199604/30/1996 - PresentUniversity of Virginia, B.A., 1951University of Virginia School of Law, LL.B., 1953
Senior Judge Henry MorganH.W. Bush 04/13/1992 - 02/07/200402/08/2004 - PresentWashington and Lee U., B.S., 1957Washington and Lee U. Law, J.D., 1960
Senior Judge Robert PayneH.W. Bush 05/13/1992 - 05/06/200705/07/2007 - PresentWashington and Lee U., B.A., 1963Washington and Lee U. Law, J.D., 1967
Senior Judge Albert Bryan, Jr.Nixon 07/29/1971 - 11/30/19911985 - 199112/01/1991 - PresentUniversity of Virginia Law, LL.B., 1950

Magistrate judges

Magistrate Judge John F. Anderson01/22/2008 - PresentUniversity of VirginiaUniversity of Virginia
Magistrate Judge Ivan Davis09/22/2008 - PresentUniversity of Virginia, B.A., 1984Howard U. Law, J.D., 1987
Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan9/1996-Present
Magistrate Judge Rawles Jones, Jr.
Magistrate Judge Tommy Miller
Magistrate Judge (Recalled) William Prince
Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Miller11/03/2009 - PresentJames Madison U., 1984College of William and Mary Law, J.D., 1995
Magistrate Judge David Novak2/1/2012-PresentSt. Vincent CollegeVillanova University
Magistrate Judge Lawrence Leonard10/01/2012 - Present


The Counties and Independent Cities of the Eastern District of Virginia (click for larger map)

The Eastern District of Virginia has original jurisdiction over cases filed within its jurisdiction. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law.

The Eastern District of Virginia court's jurisdiction covers slightly over over six million people, comprising approximately 85% of the state's population.

There are four court divisions, each covering the following counties and cities:

The Alexandria Division, covering Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford Counties, in addition to the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park.

The Newport Division, covering Gloucester, James City, Mathews and York Counties, in addition to the cities of Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson, and Williamsburg.

The Norfolk Division, covering Accomack, Isle of Wight, Northampton and Southampton Counties, in addition to the cities of Cape Charles, Chesapeake, Franklin, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach.

The Richmond Division, covering Amelia, Brunswick, Caroline, Charles City, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Essex, Goochland, Greensville, Hanover, Henrico, King and Queen, King George, King William, Lancaster, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Middlesex, New Kent, Northumberland, Nottoway, Powhatan, Prince Edward, Prince George, Richmond, Spotsylvania, Surry, Sussex and Westmoreland Counties, in addition to the cities of Colonial Heights, Emporia, Fredericksburg, Hopewell, Petersburg, and Richmond.


The Rocket Docket

During the 1960s, Judge Albert Bryan, Jr. ran the Alexandria court, often ruling on cases immediately after motions were argued. The court earned the nickname the "rocket docket" for the speed and efficiency with which it processed its cases.[3]

In 2012, the district was the fastest for the fifth straight year, with an average filing time of about eleven months.[4][5]



Federal Court Caseload Statistics*
YearStarting case load:Cases filed:Total cases:Cases terminated:Remaining cases:Median time(Criminal)**:Median time(Civil)**:3 Year Civil cases#:Vacant posts:## Trials/Post
2013 3353509884514928 35234.95.124 (1.2%)026
2012 3382513385155132 33835.15.269 (3.6%)028
2011 3297554388405438 34024.95.165 (3.5%)7.833
2010 3117518383004989 33114.84.959 (3.1%)1233
2009 3018522582435030 32135.14.629 (1.7%)1235
2008 3343529186345387 32475.34.864 (4.1%)24.732
2007305954098468512533434.94.812 (.7%)2028
*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.

Notable cases

For a searchable list of opinions, please see Opinions of the Eastern District of Virginia.


The District of Virginia was established by Congress on September 24, 1789, with one post to cover the entire state. On February 4, 1819, Congress divided the district into the Eastern District of Virginia and the Western District of Virginia with one post each. In June 11, 1864, Congress again redefined the boundaries of the district, transitioning a portion of the Western District of Virginia to the newly formed District of West Virginia and consolidating the entire state of Virginia into one district. On February 3, 1871, Congress again divided the district into its current state, with the Eastern District of Virginia and the Western District of Virginia, each holding one post to begin. Over time, ten additional judicial posts were added to the Western District of Virginia for a total of eleven posts.[23]

Judicial posts

The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the Eastern District of Virginia:[23]

Year Statute Total Seats
September 24, 1789 1 Stat. 73 1 (Whole state)
February 4, 1819 3 Stat. 478 1
June 11, 1864 13 Stat. 124 (Consolidation due to creation of West Virginia) 1(Whole state)
February 3, 1871 16 Stat. 403 1
August 2, 1935 49 Stat. 508 2
February 10, 1954 68 Stat. 8 3
March 18, 1966 80 Stat. 75 5
June 2, 1970 84 Stat. 294 6
October 20, 1978 92 Stat. 1629 8
July 10, 1984 98 Stat. 333 9
December 1, 1990 104 Stat. 5089 10 (1 temporary)
December 21, 2000 114 Stat. 2762 11 (1 temporary)
November 2, 2002 116 Stat. 1758 11

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.[24][25]

Former judges

For more information on judges of the Eastern District of Virginia, see former federal judges of the Eastern District of Virginia.

Federal courthouse

There are four federal courthouses that serve the Eastern District of Virginia.

See also

External links


  1. Offices of the United States Attorneys, Official list
  2. U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern District of Virginia, "Priorities," accessed March 15, 2014
  3. Washington Post, "A Double Dose of Molasses in the Rocket Docket," October 3, 2004
  4. Law360, "What Litigators Must Know About Va.'s 'Rocket Docket,'" March 18, 2013
  5. ABC7, "Virginia's 'Rocket Docket' takes on international cases," March 24, 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Williamsburg Yorktown Daily, "Customer Lawsuit Against Lumber Liquidators Dismissed," May 3, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 Williamsburg Yorktown Daily, "One of Three Lawsuits Against Lumber Liquidators Dropped," February 7, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Virginia-Pilot, "Judge dismisses racial bias suit against Beach sheriff," April 23, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 Washington Times, "Federal judge in Va. delivers setback for legal theory about Obamacare subsidies," February 19, 2014
  10. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  11. Ballotpedia:Virginia Question 1, Marriage Amendment (2006)
  12. The New York Times, "Federal Judge Overturns Virginia's Same-Sex Marriage Ban," February 14, 2014
  13. Fox News, "Federal judge declares Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional," February 14, 2014
  14. Courthouse News Service, "Virginia Judge Strikes Down Gay Marriage Ban," February 14, 2014
  15. Washington Post, "Lawyers Olson and Boies want Virginia as same-sex marriage test case," September 30, 2013
  16. Washington Post, "Gay couples seek court case that might reach the Supreme Court," December 13, 2013
  17. NPR, "Virginia's New Attorney General Will Not Defend Gay-Marriage Ban," January 23, 2014
  18. Washington Post, "Federal judge pledges quick ruling on Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban," February 4, 2014
  19. Guardian, "Virginia attorney tells judge state needs to stop gay discrimination," February 4, 2014
  20. Virginia Attorney's General Office, "Press Release: Virginia Attorney General to file suit against federal government over passage of healthcare bill," March 22, 2010
  21. Virginia Attorney's General Office, "Letter from Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli," accessed March 15, 2014
  22. Virginia Attorney's General Office, "Commonwealth of Virginia v. Sebelius," accessed March 15, 2014
  23. 23.0 23.1 History of the Districts of Virginia on the Federal Judicial Center website
  24. United States Courts, Frequently Asked Questions
  25. United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009

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