United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
The United States District Court For the Western District Of Texas (W.D. Tex.) 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.
The court's divisions are:
- Austin Division
- Del Rio Division
- El Paso Division
- Midland Division
- Pecos Division
- San Antonio Division
- Waco Division
Vacancy warning level
The United States District Court for the Western District of Texas's vacancy warning level is currently set at blue. The court currently has one vacancy out of its 13 posts, constituting 7.7% of its seats. There are no pending appointments for the district.
There are seven court divisions, each covering the following counties:
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.
|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.
|Austin Division||U.S. District Clerk's Office
200 West 8th St., Room 130
|(512) 916-5896||8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.|
|Del Rio Division||U.S. District Clerk's Office
111 East Broadway, Room L100
|(830) 703-2054||8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.|
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
|El Paso Division||U.S. District Clerk's Office
525 Magoffin Avenue, Suite 105
|(915) 534-6725||8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.|
|Midland-Odessa Division||U.S. District Clerk's Office
200 East Wall, Room 222
|(432) 686-4001||8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.|
|Pecos Division||U.S. District Clerk's Office
410 South Cedar
|(432) 445-4228||8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.|
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
|San Antonio Division||U.S. District Clerk's Office
655 E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd., Room G65
|(210) 472-6550||8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.|
|Waco Division||U.S. District Clerk's Office
800 Franklin Ave., Room 380
|(254) 750-1501||8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.|
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|
For a searchable list of opinions, please see Justia.com-Dockets and Filings-Western District of Texas.
| • 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
|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
|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
|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.
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.
For new stories and other related material see Texas judicial news.
- 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
- United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, "Court Locations," accessed February 28, 2014 (Select the appropriate division for info)
- History of the Western District of Texas on the Federal Judicial Center website
- 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
- 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
|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 Western District of Texas has 13 posts. This is a list of the current judges on the court:
|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||U. of Texas, B.A., 1961||U. of Texas Law, LL.B., 1963|
|Judge Earl Yeakel||1945||Oklahoma City, OK||W. Bush||07/29/2003 - Present||James Nowlin||U. of Texas, B.A., 1966||U. 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||U. 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||02/12/2002 - Present||New Seat|114 Stat. 2762||U. of Texas at El Paso, B.A., 1979||Harvard Law, J.D., 1982|
|Judge Frank Montalvo||1956||Bayamon, PR||W. Bush||08/01/2003 - Present||New Seat|116 Stat. 1758||U. of Puerto Rico, B.S., 1976||Wayne State U. Law, J.D., 1985|
|Judge Robert Junell||1947||El Paso, TX||W. Bush||02/12/2003 - Present||Hipolito Garcia||Texas Tech U., B.S., 1969||Texas Tech U. Law, J.D., 1976|
|Judge Orlando Garcia||1952||Jim Wells County, TX||Clinton||03/11/1994 - Present||Emilio Garza||U. of Texas, Austin, B.A., 1975||U. 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||U. 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|
There are no current pending appointments for the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.
Senior judgesSee: Federal judges on senior status
The United States District Court for the Western District of Texas has 4 judges on senior status currently. This is a list of the current senior judges on the court:
|Senior Judge Harry Hudspeth||Carter||11/27/1979 - 6/30/2001||1992 - 1999||6/30/2001 - Present||U. of Texas, A.B., 1955||U. of Texas School of Law, J.D., 1958|
|Judge David Briones||Clinton||10/11/1994 - 02/25/2009||02/26/2009 - Present||U. of Texas, B.A., 1969||U. 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||U. 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 Richard Mesa|
|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||U. of Wisconsin Law, J.D., 1978|
|Magistrate Judge John Primomo||07/1988 - Present||U. of Texas, B.A., 1974||St. Mary's U. Law, J.D., 1976|
|Magistrate Judge Dwight Goains||11/10/2007 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin||11/22/1999 - Present||U. of Virginia, B.A., 1982||U. of Texas Law, J.D., 1985|
|Magistrate Judge Collis White||10/24/2009 - Present||U. 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|
Former Chief judges
|Adrian Spears||1962 - 1979|
|Ben Rice||1948 - 1962|
|James Nowlin||1999 - 2003|
|Lucius Bunton||1987 - 1992|
|William Steele Sessions|
|Harry Hudspeth||1992 - 1999|
|Walter Smith, Jr.||2003 - 2010|
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.
- 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
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 • Richard Mesa • Jeff Manske • Pamela Mathy • John Primomo • Dwight Goains • Andrew Austin • Collis White • Robert Castaneda • David Counts • Anne Teresa Berton •|
|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|