United States District Court for the Eastern District 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 . 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.
Vacancy warning level
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia's vacancy warning level is currently set at green. The court currently has no vacancies.
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 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 Eastern District of Virginia court's jurisdiction covers slightly over over six million people, comprising approximately 85% of the state's population.
Court locations for the Eastern District of Virginia are located in Alexandria, Newport News, Norfolk and Richmond.
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 Rocket Docket
The Eastern District of Virginia is known as the "Rocket Docket" for continuously resolving cases faster than any other district in the nation. In 2012, the district was the fastest for the fifth straight year, with an average filing time of about eleven months.
|Federal Court Case Load 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.
Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 3, the district is grouped into four divisions, and is served by four courthouses in Richmond, Alexandria, Norfolk, and Newport News. The official clerk of court is Fernando Galindo. Please consult the chart below for more information:
|Alexandria Division||Albert V. Bryan U.S. Courthouse
401 Courthouse Square Alexandria, VA 22314
|703-299-2100||8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.-Monday through Thursday|
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.-Friday Only
|Newport News Division||United States Courthouse
2400 West Avenue Newport News, VA 23607
|757-247-0784||8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.-Monday through Friday|
|Norfolk Division||Walter E. Hoffman
United States Courthouse 600 Granby Street Norfolk, VA 23510
|757-222-7201(Civil), 757-222-7202(Criminal)||8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.-Monday through Friday|
|Richmond Division||Spottswood W. Robinson III and Robert R. Merhige, Jr., Federal Courthouse
701 East Broad Street Richmond, VA 23219
|804-916-2220(Civil), 804-916-2230(Criminal)||8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.-Monday through Friday|
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 10 additional judicial posts were added to the Western District of Virginia for a total of 11 current posts.
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 for which it processed its cases. Since 1997, the court has processed civil law cases the fastest of the 94 federal districts, and is eighth fastest in dealing with criminal cases.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the Western District of Virginia:
|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|
For a searchable list of opinions, please see Opinions of the Eastern District of Virginia.
| • Challenge to Virginia ban on same-sex marriage (2014) Judge(s):Arenda L. Wright Allen|
*Bostic v. Rainey, et al 2:13-cv-00395-AWA-LRL
|On February 13, 2014, Judge Wright Allen struck down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage, based on the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. In her 41-page opinion, Wright Allen wrote that "[g]ay and lesbian individuals share the same capacity as heterosexual individuals to form, preserve and celebrate loving, intimate and lasting relationships," and that "[s]uch relationships are created through the exercise of sacred, personal choices -- choices, like the choices made by every other citizen, that must be free from unwarranted government interference." The ban was approved by voters by 57% in 2006.
In January 2014, Virginia's Attorney General Mark Herring announced that he would refuse to defend the state's ban, having concluded that it was unconstitutional. Wright Allen heard oral arguments on the case on February 4, 2014, where Olson argued that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage was "excluding [gay and lesbian citizens] from the most important relation in life,” while lawyer Austin R. Nimocks, arguing for the defense, claimed the law "celebrate[d] the diversity of the sexes."
| • Suit Against The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the courts (2010-2012)|
*Commonwealth of Virginia v. Sebelius 3:10CV188
|On March 22, 2010, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced that the state would file suit against the federal government as soon as the act was signed, and indeed, did so on March 23 in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Cuccinelli believed that Virginia was in a unique position to sue because of a statute passed in 2010. That statute, Virginia Code 38.2-3430.1:1, declared no resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia shall be required to have insurance or be penalized for not having it. The case was filed as Commonwealth of Virginia v. Sebelius.
In the complaint filed, the state argued that the individual mandate exceeded powers granted to Congress by the Commerce Clause of Article I. It further asked that they entire act be declared invalid because the individual mandate is an "essential, non-severable" provision. Cuccinelli also asked the court to declare Virginia Code 38.2-3430.1:1 a valid exercise of state power.On June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as "Obamacare." To learn more about the law's path through the federal court system, see: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the courts.
There are four federal courthouses that serve the Eastern District of Virginia.
For new stories and other related material see Virginia judicial news.
- US District Court-Eastern Virginia
- Opinions of the Eastern District of Virginia
- US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia
- Judges of the Eastern District of Virginia
- Offices of the United States Attorneys, Official list
- U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern District of Virginia - Priorities
- Law360, "What Litigators Must Know About Va.'s 'Rocket Docket'," March 18, 2013
- ABC7.com, "Virginia's 'Rocket Docket' takes on international cases," March 24, 2013
- Local Civil Rule 3
- Alexandria Courthouse Info
- Newport News Courthouse Info
- Norfolk Courthouse Info
- Richmond Courthouse Info
- FJC History of the Districts of Virginia
- "A Double Dose of Molasses in the Rocket Docket" The Washington Post, October 3, 2004
- Ballotpedia:Virginia Question 1, Marriage Amendment (2006)
- The New York Times, "Federal Judge Overturns Virginia's Same-Sex Marriage Ban," February 14, 2014
- Fox News, "Federal judge declares Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional," February 14, 2014
- Courthouse News Service, "Virginia Judge Strikes Down Gay Marriage Ban," February 14, 2014
- Washington Post, "Lawyers Olson and Boies want Virginia as same-sex marriage test case," September 30, 2013
- Washington Post, "Gay couples seek court case that might reach the Supreme Court," December 13, 2013
- NPR, "Virginia's New Attorney General Will Not Defend Gay-Marriage Ban," January 23, 2014
- Washington Post, "Federal judge pledges quick ruling on Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban," February 4, 2014
- Guardian, "Virginia attorney tells judge state needs to stop gay discrimination," February 4, 2014
- Virginia Attorney's General office press release "Virginia Attorney General to file suit against federal government over passage of healthcare bill," March 22, 2010
- Letter from Virginia Attorney General to constituents "Letter from Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli"
- Copy of complaint, retrieved Virgina Attorney's General website
|2.1 Active Judges|
|2.1.1 Article III judges|
|2.1.2 Pending appointments|
|2.1.3 Senior judges|
|2.2 Past judges|
|2.2.1 Former Chief judges|
|2.2.2 Former judges|
Article III judgesThe United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has 11 posts. This is a list of the current judges on the court:
|Judge Mark Davis||1962||Portsmouth, Virginia||W. Bush||06/23/2008 - Present||T.S. Ellis||U. of Virginia, B.A., 1984||Washington & Lee U. Law, J.D., 1988|
|Judge James Spencer||1949||Florence, SC||Reagan||10/14/1986 - Present||2004 - 2011||John MacKenzie||Clark College, Atlanta, Georgia, B.A., 1971||Harvard Law, J.D., 1974|
|Judge Anthony Trenga||1949||Wilkensburg, PA||W. Bush||10/14/2008 - Present||Walter Kelley||Princeton U., A.B., 1971||U. of Virginia Law, J.D., 1974|
|Judge Liam O'Grady||1950||Newark, NJ||W. Bush||07/11/2007 - Present||Claude Hilton||Franklin & Marshall College, B.A., 1973||George Mason U. Law, J.D., 1977|
|Judge Gerald Lee||1952||Washington, DC||Clinton||10/01/1998 - Present||James Cacheris||American U., B.A., 1973||American U. Law, J.D., 1976|
|Judge Leonie Brinkema||1944||Teaneck, NJ||Clinton||10/20/1993 - Present||Albert Bryan Jr.||Rutgers U., B.A., 1966||Cornell Law, J.D., 1976|
|Chief Judge Rebecca Smith||1949||Hopewell, VA||H.W. Bush||10/25/1989 - Present||2011 - Present||David Warriner||College of William and Mary, B.A., 1971||College of William and Mary Law, J.D., 1979|
|Judge Raymond Jackson||1949||Sussex, VA||Clinton||11/22/1993 - Present||Richard Williams||Norfolk State U., B.A., 1970||U. of Virginia Law, J.D., 1973|
|Judge Henry Hudson||1947||Washington, DC||W. Bush||08/02/2002 - Present||New Seat|114 Stat. 2762||American U., B.A., 1969||American U. Law, J.D., 1974|
|Judge John A. Gibney||1951||Coatesville, PA||Obama||12/16/2010 - Present||Robert Payne||College of William & Mary, 1973||U. of Virginia Law, 1976|
|Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen||1960||Philadelphia, PA||Obama||05/11/2011 - Present||Jerome Friedman||Kutztown State College, B.A., 1982||North Carolina Central U. Law, J.D., 1985|
Pending appointmentsThe United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has 1 appointee pending and 0 vacancies. This is a list of the current pending appointees to the court:
|Hannah Lauck||Wellesley College, B.A., 1986||Yale Law, J.D., 1991|
Senior judgesSee: Federal judges on senior status
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has 7 judges on senior status currently. This is a list of the current senior judges on the court:
|Senior Judge T.S. Ellis||Reagan||08/06/1987 - 03/31/2007||04/01/2007 - Present||Princeton, B.S.E., 1961||Harvard, J.D., 1969|
|Senior Judge Claude Hilton||Reagan||07/11/1985 - 12/30/2005||1997 - 2004||12/31/2005 - Present||Ohio State U., B.S., 1963||American U. Law, J.D., 1966|
|Senior Judge James Cacheris||Reagan||12/01/1981 - 03/29/1998||1991 - 1997||03/30/1998 - Present||U. of Pennsylvania, B.S., 1955||George Washington U. Law, J.D., 1960|
|Senior Judge Robert Doumar||Reagan||12/03/1981 - 04/29/1996||04/30/1996 - Present||U. of Virginia, B.A., 1951||U. of Virginia School of Law, LL.B., 1953|
|Senior Judge Henry Morgan||H.W. Bush||04/13/1992 - 02/07/2004||02/08/2004 - Present||Washington and Lee U., B.S., 1957||Washington and Lee U. Law, J.D., 1960|
|Senior Judge Robert Payne||H.W. Bush||05/13/1992 - 05/06/2007||05/07/2007 - Present||Washington and Lee U., B.A., 1963||Washington and Lee U. Law, J.D., 1967|
|Senior Judge Albert Bryan, Jr.||Nixon||07/29/1971 - 11/30/1991||1985 - 1991||12/01/1991 - Present||U. of Virginia Law, LL.B., 1950|
|Magistrate Judge John F. Anderson||01/22/2008 - Present||University of Virginia||University of Virginia|
|Magistrate Judge Ivan Davis||09/22/2008 - Present||U. of Virginia, B.A., 1984||Howard U. Law, J.D., 1987|
|Magistrate Judge Hannah Lauck||05/03/2005 - Present||Wellesley College, B.A., 1986||Yale Law, J.D., 1991|
|Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan||9/1996-Present|
|Magistrate Judge Rawles Jones, Jr.|
|Magistrate Judge Tommy Miller|
|Magistrate Judge (Recalled) William Prince|
|Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Miller||11/03/2009 - Present||James Madison U., 1984||College of William and Mary Law, J.D., 1995|
|Magistrate Judge David Novak||2/1/2012-Present||St. Vincent College||Villanova University|
|Magistrate Judge Lawrence Leonard||10/01/2012 - Present|
Former Chief judges
|Albert Bryan, Jr.||1985 - 1991|
|John MacKenzie||1979 - 1985|
|Richard Kellam||1973 - 1979|
|Charles Hutcheson||1948 - 1959|
|Walter Hoffman||1961 - 1973|
|Albert Bryan, Sr.||1959 - 1961|
|James Cacheris||1991 - 1997|
|Claude Hilton||1997 - 2004|
|James Spencer||2004 - 2011|
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. See 28 U.S.C. § 45.
These rules for Chief Judges in the federal judiciary have been in effect since October 1, 1982. The office of Chief Judge was created in 1948. Until August 6, 1959, the position was filled in each federal court by the longest-serving judge who had not elected to retire on what has since 1958 been known as senior status or declined to serve as Chief Judge. From then until 1982 it was filled by the senior such judge who had not turned 70.
- George Tucker
- George Hay
- Philip Pendelton Barbour
- Peter Vivian Daniel
- John Young Mason
- James Dandridge Halyburton
- John Curtiss Underwood
- Robert William Hughes
- Edmund Waddill
- Richard Williams
- Jerome Friedman
- Duncan Groner
- Luther Way
- Robert Nelson Pollard
- Albert Bryan, Sr.
- John Butzner
- Joseph Clarke
- Walter Hoffman
- Charles Hutcheson
- Richard Kellam
- Walter Kelley
- Oren Lewis
- John MacKenzie
- Robert Merhige
- David Warriner
|Magistrate judges||John F. Anderson • Ivan Davis • Hannah Lauck • Theresa Buchanan • Rawles Jones, Jr. • Tommy Miller • William Prince • Douglas E. Miller • David Novak • Lawrence Leonard •|
|Former Article III judges||
George Tucker • George Hay • Philip Pendelton Barbour • Peter Vivian Daniel • John Young Mason • James Dandridge Halyburton • John Curtiss Underwood • Robert William Hughes • Edmund Waddill • Richard Williams • Jerome Friedman • Duncan Groner • Luther Way • Robert Nelson Pollard • Albert Bryan, Sr. • John Butzner • Joseph Clarke • Walter Hoffman • Charles Hutcheson • Richard Kellam • Walter Kelley • Oren Lewis • John MacKenzie • Robert Merhige • David Warriner •
|Former Chief judges|