United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas is the United States district court with jurisdiction over the southern part of Texas and is a part of the Fifth Circuit. The court's headquarters is in Houston and has six additional offices in the district.
Vacancy warning level
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas's vacancy warning level is currently set at yellow. The court currently has three vacancies out of their nineteen posts, constituting 15.8% of their seats. There are no pending appointments for the district.
The court's headquarters is in Houston and has six additional offices in the district.
There are seven court divisions, each covering the following counties:
- The Corpus Christi Division, covering Aransas, Bee, Brooks, Duval, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, Live Oak, Nueces, and San Patricio Counties.
- The Houston Division covers Austin, Brazos, Colorado, Fayette, Fort Bend, Grimes, Harris, Madison, Montgomery, San Jacinto, Walker, Waller, and Wharton Counties.
- The Victoria Division, covering Calhoun, DeWitt, Goliad, Jackson, Lavaca, Refugio, and Victoria Counties.
The Southern 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 all judicial posts had spent vacant that year.
The Southern District of Texas has seven separate courthouses. The Clerk's office is open Monday through Friday, excluding Federal holidays. Please consult the chart below for more information:
|Brownsville Division||Reynaldo G. Garza-Filemon B. Vela
United States Courthouse
|956-548-2500||8:00 AM to 5:00 PM|
|Corpus Christi Division||United States Courthouse
1133 N. Shoreline Blvd.
|361-888-3142||8:00 AM to 5:00 PM|
|Galveston Division||United States Post Office and Courthouse
601 Rosenberg, Room 411
|409-766-3547||8:00 AM to 5:00 PM|
|Houston Division||United States Courthouse
515 Rusk Avenue
|713-250-5500||8:00 AM to 5:00 PM|
|Laredo Division||United States Courthouse
1300 Victoria St.
|956-723-3542||8:00 AM to 5:00 PM|
|McAllen Division||Bentsen Tower
1701 W. Bus. Hwy. 83, Suite 1011
|956-618-8472||8:00 AM to 5:00 PM|
|Victoria Division||Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Building
312 S. Main - Room 406
|361-788-5009||8:30 AM to 4:30 PM|
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 Southern District of Texas:
|December 29, 1845||9 Stat. 1||1|
|March 11, 1902||32 Stat. 64||1|
|May 31, 1938||52 Stat. 584||2|
|August 3, 1949||63 Stat. 493||4 (1 post temporary)|
|February 10, 1954||68 Stat. 8||4|
|May 19, 1961||75 Stat. 80||5|
|March 18, 1966||80 Stat. 75||7|
|June 2, 1970||84 Stat. 294||8|
|October 20, 1978||92 Stat. 1629||13|
|December 1, 1990||104 Stat. 5089||18|
|December 21, 2000||114 Stat. 2762||19|
For a searchable list of opinions, please see Justia.com-Dockets and Filings-Southern District of Texas.
| • Suit against BP by investors following Gulf of Mexico spill Judge(s):Keith Ellison|
*In re BP p.l.c. Securities Litigation Civil Action No. 4:10-md-2185
|On February 13, 2012, Judge Keith P. Ellison of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that BP PLC should face claims of fraud by investors who claim the company lied about its capabilities to respond to accidents before and after the 2010 major spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
In his ruling, Judge Ellison rejected investor claims that BP lied about its commitment to safety, but found the company possibly exaggerated its ability to respond to a large-scale spill. His ruling allowed for the suit to move forward for holders of BP American depository receipts, but denied ordinary stock holders due to a lack of jurisdiction in his court. This suit was brought by five Ohio pension plans and one New York State pension plan.According to the investors who brought suit, BP hid the actual size of the accident to limit the damage to its stock price. They further claimed that "BP publicly declared to a commitment to safety while cutting budgets and personnel, and rejecting internal complaints." 
| • McNamee Motion to Dismiss Clemens' Defamation Claims Judge(s):Keith Ellison|
*Clemens v. McNamee Civil Action No. 4:08-cv-00471
|Judge Ellison granted in part and denied in part Brian McNamee's motion to dismiss third-party publication defamation claims that were filed by Roger Clemens, providing Clemens leave to amend complaint as to the denied claims alleging publication to Pettitte.
On June 30, 2009, Judge Ellison rejected a claim filed by seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens against Brian McNamee, thus allowing McNamee, a former trainer, to file his own lawsuit against Clemens. Judge Ellison's June 30 ruling also reaffirmed an earlier ruling against Clemens. Ellison said that if Clemens "...believes that the federal investigators or the Mitchell Commission overstepped the bounds of the law, he is free to bring suit against those enemies, subject to possible immunity."The case involves claims by former trainer McNamee that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone from 1998-2001. Clemens has denied using performance-enhancing drugs. 
Seven separate courthouses serve the Southern District of Texas.
For new stories and other related material see Texas judicial news.
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
- US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas
- Judges of the Southern District of Texas
- Opinions of the Southern District of Texas
- ↑ Court Clerk Information(Select the appropriate division for information, map, and legal holidays)
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 FJC History of the Southern District of Texas
- ↑ Pensions&Investments, "BP must face investors' fraud claims tied to oil spill", 14 February 2012
- ↑ McNamee Motion to Dismiss Clemens' Defamation Claims, holding at 23-24
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Boston Globe, "Federal judge rejects Clemens bid", July 2, 2009
- ↑ Seattle Times, "Judge's decision clears way for lawsuit against Roger Clemens", July 2, 2009
|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 judgesSee: Article III federal judge
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas has 19 posts and 3 vacancies. The current Chief Judge is Ricardo Hinojosa. This is a list of the current judges on the court:
|Judge Micaela Alvarez||1958||Donna, TX||W. Bush||12/13/2004 - Present||David Hittner||U. of Texas, B.S., 1980||U. of Texas Law, J.D., 1989|
|Judge Nancy Atlas||1949||New York, NY||Clinton||06/30/1995 - Present||James DeAnda||Tufts U., B.S., 1971||New York U. Law, J.D., 1974|
|Judge Randy Crane||1965||Houston, TX||W. Bush||03/19/2002 - Present||New Seat|114 Stat. 2762||U. of Texas, B.A., 1985||U. of Texas Law, J.D., 1987|
|Judge Keith Ellison||1950||New Orleans, LA||Clinton||07/07/1999 - Present||Norman Black||Harvard, B.A., 1972||Yale Law, J.D., 1976|
|Judge Vanessa Gilmore||1956||St. Albans, NY||Clinton||06/09/1994 - Present||New Seat|104 Stat. 5089||Hampton U., B.S., 1977||U. of Houston Law, J.D., 1981|
|Judge Lynn Hughes||1941||Houston, TX||Reagan||12/17/1985 - Present||Robert O'Conor||U. of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, B.A., 1963||U. of Texas Law, J.D., 1966|
|Judge Andrew Hanen||1953||Elgin, IL||W. Bush||05/10/2002 - Present||Filemon Vela||Denison U., B.A., 1975||Baylor U. Law, J.D., 1978|
|Judge Melinda Harmon||1946||Port Arthur, TX||H.W. Bush||05/22/1989 - Present||John Singleton||Harvard-Radcliffe College, A.B., 1969||U. of Texas Law, J.D., 1972|
|Chief Judge Ricardo Hinojosa||1950||Rio Grande City, TX||Reagan||05/05/1983 - Present||2009 - Present||Woodrow Seals||U. of Texas, Austin, B.A., 1972||Harvard Law, J.D., 1975|
|Judge Sim Lake||1944||Chicago, IL||Reagan||08/12/1988 - Present||Ross Sterling||Texas A&M U., B.A., 1966||U. of Texas Law, J.D., 1969|
|Judge Gray Miller||1948||Houston, TX||W. Bush||05/26/2006 - Present||Ewing Werlein, Jr.||U. of Houston, B.A., 1974||U. of Houston Law, J.D., 1978|
|Judge Lee Rosenthal||1952||Richmond, IN||H.W. Bush||05/13/1992 - Present||New Seat|104 Stat. 5089||U. of Chicago, B.A., 1974||U. of Chicago Law, J.D., 1977|
|Judge Diana Saldaña||1971||Carrizo Springs, TX||Obama||02/07/2011 - Present||George Kazen||U. of Texas at Austin, B.A., 1993 and 1994||U. of Texas Law, J.D., 19'97|
|Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos||1966||Port Lavaca||Obama||08/08/2011-Current||Hayden Head||Southwest Texas State U., B.S., 1987||U. of Texas Law, J.D., 1991|
|Judge Marina Marmolejo||1971||Nuevo Laredo, Mexico||Obama||10/3/2011 - Present||Samuel Kent||U. of the Incarnate Word '92||St. Mary's University '96|
|Judge Gregg Costa||1972||Baltimore, MD||Obama||4/26/2012 - Present||John Rainey||Dartmouth College, B.A., 1994||U. of Texas Law, J.D., 1999|
There are no current pending appointments for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
Senior judgesSee: Federal judges on senior status
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas has 8 judges on senior status currently. This is a list of the current senior judges on the court:
|Senior Judge Hayden Head||Reagan||10/26/1981 - 11/13/2009||2003 - 2009||11/13/2009 - Present||U. of Texas, B.A., 1966||U. of Texas School of Law, LL.B., 1968|
|Senior Judge David Hittner||06/09/1986 - 11/10/2004||11/11/2004 - Present||New York U., B.S., 1961||New York U. Law, J.D., 1964|
|Senior Judge Kenneth Hoyt||Reagan||04/01/1988 - 3/2/2013||3/2/2013 - Present||Texas Southern U., A.B., 1969||Texas Southern U. Law, J.D., 1972|
|Senior Judge John Rainey||H.W. Bush||05/14/1990 - 06/10/2010||06/11/2010 - Present||Southern Methodist U., B.B.A., 1967||Southern Methodist U. Law, J.D., 1972|
|Senior Judge Hilda Tagle||Reagan||05/17/1998 - 12/31/2012||12/31/2012 - Present||East Texas State U., B.A., 1969||U. of Texas School of Law, J.D., 1977|
|Senior Judge Ewing Werlein||H.W. Bush||04/13/1992 - 12/31/2005||01/01/2006 - Present||Southern Methodist U., B.A., 1958||U. of Texas Law, LL.B., 1961|
|Senior Judge George Kazen||Carter||5/11/1979 - 5/31/2009||1996 - 2003||5/31/2009 - Present||U. of Texas, B.B.A., 1960||U. of Texas School of Law, J.D., 1961|
|Senior Judge Carl Bue||Nixon||10/15/1970 - 09/01/1987||09/02/1987 - Present||Northwestern U., Ph.B., 1951||U. of Texas Law, LL.B., 1954|
|Magistrate Judge George Hanks||2010-Present||Louisiana State University||Harvard University|
|Magistrate Judge Janice Ellington||11/13/1996 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge John Froeschner|
|Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson||1990 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy|
|Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby||02/28/2005 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge Brian Owsley||05/09/2005 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos||08/26/1996 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge Felix Recio|
|Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith||07/22/2004 - Present||Vanderbilt U., B.A., 1973||U. of Virginia Law, J.D., 1977|
|Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy||02/20/1990 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge Ronald G. Morgan||Pennsylvania State U. Law, J.D., 1985|
|Magistrate Judge Guillermo Garcia|
|Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker|
|Magistrate Judge Diana Quiroga|
Former Chief judges
|John Singleton||1979 - 1988|
|Allen Hannay||1954 - 1962|
|James DeAnda||1988 - 1992|
|Ben Connally||1962 - 1974|
|Norman Black||1992 - 1996|
|George Kazen||1996 - 2003|
|Hayden Head||2003 - 2009|
|Reynaldo Garza||1974 - 1979|
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.
- Samuel Kent
- Reynaldo Garza
- Waller Thomas Burns
- Joseph Chappell Hutcheson
- Thomas Martin Kennerly
- James Allred
- Adriana Arce-Flores
- John Black
- Calvin Botley
- Norman Black
- George Cire
- Ben Connally
- Finis Cowan
- Owen Cox
- James DeAnda
- Hugh Gibson
- Allen Hannay
- Joe Ingraham
- Gabrielle McDonald
- James Noel
- Robert O'Conor
- Woodrow Seals
- John Singleton
- Ross Sterling
- Filemon Vela
Chief Judge: Ricardo Hinojosa • Micaela Alvarez • Nancy Atlas • Randy Crane • Keith Ellison • Vanessa Gilmore • Lynn Hughes • Andrew Hanen • Melinda Harmon • Sim Lake • Gray Miller • Lee Rosenthal • Diana Saldaña • Nelva Gonzales Ramos • Marina Marmolejo • Gregg Costa
|Magistrate judges||George Hanks • Janice Ellington • John Froeschner • Nancy Johnson • Mary Milloy • Peter Ormsby • Brian Owsley • Dorina Ramos • Felix Recio • Stephen Smith • Frances Stacy • Ronald G. Morgan • Guillermo Garcia • J. Scott Hacker • Diana Quiroga •|
|Former Article III judges||
Samuel Kent • Reynaldo Garza • Waller Thomas Burns • Joseph Chappell Hutcheson • Thomas Martin Kennerly • James Allred • Adriana Arce-Flores • John Black • Calvin Botley • Norman Black • George Cire • Ben Connally • Finis Cowan • Owen Cox • James DeAnda • Hugh Gibson • Allen Hannay • Joe Ingraham • Gabrielle McDonald • James Noel • Robert O'Conor • Woodrow Seals • John Singleton • Ross Sterling • Filemon Vela •
|Former Chief judges|