United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
- 1 Vacancy warning level
- 2 Active judges
- 3 Jurisdiction
- 4 Caseloads
- 5 Notable cases
- 6 History
- 7 Federal courthouses
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 References
The United States District Court For the Western District Of Texas is the United States district court whose jurisdiction consists of the counties in the western part of the State of Texas. This district covers over 92,000 square miles and seven divisions. 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
|Robert Lee Pitman||Abilene Christian U., 1985||University of Texas at Austin, 1988|
Article III judges
|Judge Walter Smith, Jr.||1940||Marlin, TX||Reagan||10/4/1984 - Present||2003 - 2010||New Seat|98 Stat. 333||Baylor U., B.A., 1964||Baylor U. School of Law, J.D., 1966|
|Chief Judge Samuel Biery||1947||McAllen, TX||Clinton||03/11/1994 - Present||2010 - Present||New Seat|104 Stat. 5089||Texas Lutheran College, B.A., 1970||Southern Methodist U. Law, J.D., 1973|
|Judge Sam Sparks||1939||Austin, TX||H.W. Bush||11/25/1991 - Present||New Seat|104 Stat. 5089||University of Texas, B.A., 1961||University of Texas Law, LL.B., 1963|
|Judge Earl Yeakel||1945||Oklahoma City, OK||W. Bush||07/29/2003 - Present||James Nowlin||University of Texas, B.A., 1966||University of Texas Law, J.D., 1969|
|Judge Xavier Rodriguez||1961||San Antonio, TX||W. Bush||08/01/2003 - Present||Edward Prado||Harvard, B.A., 1983||University of Texas Law, J.D., 1987|
|Judge Kathleen Cardone||1953||Medina, NY||W. Bush||07/29/2003 - Present||New Seat|116 Stat. 1758||Binghamton SUNY, B.A., 1976||St. Mary's Law, J.D., 1979|
|Judge Philip Martinez||1957||El Paso, TX||W. Bush||2/12/2002-Present||New Seat|114 Stat. 2762||University of Texas at El Paso, 1979||Harvard Law, 1982|
|Judge Frank Montalvo||1956||Bayamon, PR||W. Bush||8/1/2003-present||New Seat|116 Stat. 1758||University of Puerto Rico, 1976||Wayne State University Law, 1985|
|Judge Robert Junell||1947||El Paso, TX||W. Bush||2/12/2003-Present||Hipolito Garcia||Texas Tech University, 1969||Texas Tech University Law, 1976|
|Judge Orlando Garcia||1952||Jim Wells County, TX||Clinton||03/11/1994 - Present||Emilio Garza||University of Texas, Austin, B.A., 1975||University of Texas Law, J.D., 1978|
|Judge Alia Moses||1962||Eagle Pass, TX||W. Bush||11/15/2002 - Present||Harry Hudspeth||Texas Woman's U., B.B.A., 1983||University of Texas Law, J.D., 1986|
|Judge David Guaderrama||1954||Las Cruces, NM||Obama||4/26/2012 - Present||David Briones||New Mexico State U., B.A., 1975||Notre Dame Law, J.D., 1979|
|Senior Judge Harry Hudspeth||Carter||11/27/1979 - 6/30/2001||1992 - 1999||6/30/2001 - Present||University of Texas, A.B., 1955||University of Texas School of Law, J.D., 1958|
|Judge David Briones||Clinton||10/11/1994 - 02/25/2009||02/26/2009 - Present||University of Texas, B.A., 1969||University of Texas Law, J.D., 1971|
|Senior Judge David Alan Ezra||Reagan||5/20/1988 - 6/27/2012||1999 - 2005||6/27/2012 - Present||St. Mary`s U., B.B.A., 1969||St. Mary`s U. School of Law, J.D., 1972|
|Senior Judge James Nowlin||Reagan||10/26/1981 - 05/30/2003||1999 - 2003||05/31/2003 - Present||Trinity U., B.A., 1959||University of Texas Law, J.D., 1963|
|Magistrate Judge Victor Garcia||05/14/2003 - Present||Angelo State U., B.A., 1977||Texas Southern U. Law, J.D., 1980|
|Magistrate Judge Norbert Garney||09/11/2000 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge Jeff Manske||08/01/2001 - Present||Baylor U., B.A., 1983||St. Mary's U. Law, J.D., 1986|
|Magistrate Judge Pamela Mathy||06/08/1998 - Present||Marquette U., B.A., 1973||University of Wisconsin Law, J.D., 1978|
|Magistrate Judge John Primomo||07/1988 - Present||University of Texas, B.A., 1974||St. Mary's U. Law, J.D., 1976|
|Magistrate Judge B. Dwight Goains||11/10/2007 - Present||National University||South Texas College of Law|
|Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin||11/22/1999 - Present||University of Virginia, B.A., 1982||University of Texas Law, J.D., 1985|
|Magistrate Judge Collis White||10/24/2009 - Present||University of Kansas, B.S.||Fordham U. Law, J.D.|
|Magistrate Judge Robert Castaneda|
|Magistrate Judge David Counts|
|Judge Anne Teresa Berton||11/20/2012 to Current||West Point Academy||Texas Tech University|
|Magistrate Judge Mark Lane||2012-Present||University of Texas, 1984||University of Huston Law, 1987|
|Magistrate Judge Miguel A. Torres||2013-Present||University of Texas at Austin, 1995|
|Magistrate Judge Henry J. Bemporad||2012-Present||University of Texas at Austin, 1985||Stanford University, 1988|
The Western District of Texas has original jurisdiction over cases filed within its jurisdiction. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law.
There are seven court divisions, each covering the following counties:
|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 Justia.com-Dockets and Filings-Western District of Texas.
| • Environmentalists suffer loss in lawsuit against power plant (2014)|
Judge(s):Walter Smith, Jr. (Sierra Club v. Energy Future Holdings Corp. and Luminant Generation Co., 6:12-cv-108)
|Click for summary→|
|On February 26, 2014, Judge Walter Smith, Jr. ruled in favor of Luminant Generation Co. (Luminant) and Energy Future Holdings Corp. (EFHC) in a three-day bench trial over an environmental lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club.
In an oral ruling, Judge Smith found that the Sierra Club's claims were without merit and unsupported by the evidence produced at trial. While Luminant called the judge's decision a "significant legal victory," the Sierra Club pledged to appeal.
| • Challenge to Texas ban on same-sex marriage (2014)|
Judge(s):Orlando Garcia (De Leon, et al v. Perry, et al, 5:13-cv-00982-OLG)
|Click for summary→|
|On February 26, 2014, Judge Orlando Garcia struck down the Texas ban on same-sex marriage and issued an injunction as to the enforcement of the state statute, ruling that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment rights of gay couples to equal protection and due process of the law. The underlying case stems from a November 2005 voter-approved amendment to the Texas Constitution which banned same-sex marriage, as well as provisions of the Texas Family Code enacted in 1997 and 2003, which prohibited the issuance of marriage licenses to persons of the same gender and prohibited recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages, respectively.
The plaintiffs, Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes and Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetmen, filed suit against Texas Governor Rick Perry, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, Bexar County Clerk Gerard Rickhoff, and Commissioner David Lakey of the Texas Department of State Health Services, seeking the ability to marry as a same-sex couple within Texas (Phariss and Holmes) and the ability to have their out-of-state, same-sex marriage recognized by the Texas government (De Leon and Dimetmen). Judge Garcia found for the plaintiffs in his ruling, writing:
| • Judge adds humor to strip club case (2013)|
Judge(s):Samuel Biery (35 Bar and Grille LLC v. The City of San Antonio, 5:13-cv-00034-FB)
|Click for summary→|
|Judge Biery made national news for his turns of phrase in 35 Bar and Grille v. The City of San Antonio in April 2013, officially referring to the decision as The Case of the Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Bikini Top v. The (More) Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Pastie. In the case, a gentleman's club in San Antonio circumvented a 2005 ordinance which would have deemed the business a "human display establishment," leading to greater regulation and permitting issues. That ordinance was challenged in 2009 on the basis of First Amendment rights and the Texas Fourth District Court of Appeals found that the ordinance did not violate the dancers' right to freedom of speech.
Following the state court ruling, the clubs found a loophole around the ordinance by allowing their dancers to wear pasties and thong underwear. In 2012, the City of San Antonio specified the ordinance, providing specific regulations as to what could be worn in these clubs. This case challenged the strengthened regulations; again the plaintiffs challenged based on First Amendment rights, which the city denied based on licensing options. Or, as Judge Biery stated, "Plaintiffs clothe themselves in the First Amendment seeking to provide cover against another alleged naked grab of constitutional power."Judge Biery denied the injunction of the ordinance as requested by the plaintiffs, finding that the group was unlikely "to prevail based on the merit of their claims."
| • School prayer case (2012)|
Judge(s):Samuel Biery (Schultz v. Medina Valley Independent School District, 5:11-cv-00422-FB)
|Click for summary→|
|In February 2012, Judge Biery presided over the settlement of Schultz v. Medina Valley Independent School District, a controversial case which challenged the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The case was filed by parents of two children in the district, who disagreed with sanctioned prayers at school events. The reached settlement specifically outlined all instances where prayer may and may not be mentioned, from graduation speeches to football games, in addition to training staff on proper use of religious language and non-retaliation towards students.
To read through the allowed activities, see: United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Schultz v. Medina Valley Independent School District, Appendix I.Judge Biery faced threats for his decision in the case, leading to increased protection from the U.S. Marshal Service.
On December 29, 1845, the State of Texas was organized as one judicial district. One judgeship was authorized for this U.S. district court, and being that it was not assigned to a judicial circuit, the district court was granted the same jurisdiction as the United States circuit courts, excluding appeals and writs of error, which are the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
Texas was divided into two judicial districts, known as the Eastern District of Texas and the Western District of Texas, on February 21, 1857. One judgeship was authorized for the court in each district. Circuit court jurisdiction of the district court in Texas was repealed on July 15, 1862, and a U.S. circuit court was established for the district and assigned over to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Texas was then assigned to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on July 23, 1866.
The Northern District of Texas was established on February 24, 1879, with one judgeship authorized to the district court. On February 9, 1898, a temporary judgeship was authorized to the Northern District. However, the statute provided that any vacancy in the existing judgeship would not be filled.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the Western District of Texas:
|December 29, 1845||9 Stat. 1||1|
|February 21, 1857||11 Stat. 164||1|
|February 26, 1917||39 Stat. 938||2|
|May 19, 1961||75 Stat. 80||3|
|March 18, 1966||80 Stat. 75||4|
|June 2, 1970||84 Stat. 294||5|
|October 20, 1978||92 Stat. 1629||6|
|July 10, 1984||98 Stat. 333||7|
|December 1, 1990||104 Stat. 5089||10|
|December 21, 2000||114 Stat. 2762||11|
|November 2, 2002||116 Stat. 1758||13|
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 judges of the Western District of Texas, see [[category:Former federal judge, Western District of Texas|former federal judges of the Western District of Texas.
Six separate courthouses serve the Western District of Texas.
Hipolito F. Garcia Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse
This courthouse is located in San Antonio, Texas, next to the Alamo. As such, since its creation it has signified a federal presence in the city. The building officially opened in 1937 and was constructed as part of the Federal Public Works programs following the Great Depression. In 2000, the courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
United States Courthouse in Austin
This courthouse in Austin, Texas, was completed in 2013. The structure encompasses a full city block next to Republic Square Park. To read more about the architecture of the courthouse, see: Texas Architect, "Irreconcilable Differences Resolved," May/June 2013 Issue.
- US District Court for the Western District of Texas
- US Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas
- Judges of the Western District of Texas
- Opinions of the Western District of Texas
- Offices of the United States Attorneys, Official list
- KWTX-TV News, "Judge Rules For Local Power Plant Owners In Environmental Suit," February 27, 2014
- Bloomberg, "Luminant Wins Ruling in Pollution Suit, Sierra Club Says," February 26, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- New York Times, "Federal Judge Strikes Down Texas’ Ban on Same-Sex Marriage," February 26, 2014
- York Dispatch, "Updated: Federal judge strikes down Texas gay marriage ban," February 26, 2014
- San Antonio Express-News, "Texas files notice of appeal in same-sex marriage case," February 27, 2014
- NPR, "Judge Doubles Down On Double Entendres In Strip Club Case," May 1, 2013
- Texas Lawyer, "Pasties v. bikini tops: Double entendres fly in decision governing semi-nude dancing," April 30, 2013
- 35 Grille LLC v. The City of San Antonio, W.D. Tex., April 29, 2013
- 35 Grille LLC v. The City of San Antonio, W.D. Tex., April 29, 2013
- History of the Western District of Texas on the Federal Judicial Center website
- United States Courts, Frequently Asked Questions
- United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009
- U.S. General Services Administration, Building Overview: Hipolito F. Garcia Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse," accessed February 28, 2014
- Texas Architect, "Irreconcilable Differences Resolved," May/June 2013 Issue
Chief Judge: Samuel Biery • Walter Smith, Jr. • Sam Sparks • Earl Yeakel • Xavier Rodriguez • Kathleen Cardone • Philip Martinez • Frank Montalvo • Robert Junell • Orlando Garcia • Alia Moses • David Guaderrama
|Magistrate judges||Victor Garcia • Norbert Garney • Jeff Manske • Pamela Mathy • John Primomo • B. Dwight Goains • Andrew Austin • Collis White • Robert Castaneda • David Counts • Anne Teresa Berton • Mark Lane • Miguel A. Torres • Henry J. Bemporad •|
|Former Article III judges||
Thomas Howard DuVal • Ezekiel Turner • Edward Prado • Emilio Garza • Thomas Sheldon Maxey • William Robert Smith • William Furgeson • DuVal West • Charles Albert Boynton • Robert Johnston McMillan • William Steele Sessions • Lucius Bunton • Hipolito Garcia • Ernest Guinn • Walter Keeling • Ben Rice • Jack Roberts • Clyde Shannon • Adrian Spears • Dorwin Suttle • Robert Thomason • William Thornberry • John Wood •
|Former Chief judges|