United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
Vacancy warning level
The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts's vacancy warning level is currently set at yellow. The court currently has two vacancies out of their thirteen posts, constituting 15% of their seats. There is one pending appointment for the district.
|First Circuit Court of Appeals based in downtown Boston at the John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse.|
The District of Massachusetts 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.
|Boston Division||1 Courthouse Way
|(617) 748-9152||8:30am - 5:00pm|
|Springfield Division||300 State Street
|(413) 785-6800||8:00am - 4:30pm|
|Worcester Division||595 Main Street
Worcester, Massachusetts 01608
|(508) 929-9900||8:30am - 5:00pm|
The District of Massachusetts was established by Congress with one judicial post on September 24, 1789 and assigned to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eastern Circuit, and then was later reassigned to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in 1801. Over time, beginning in 1922 12 additional judicial posts were added for a total of 13 current posts.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the District of Massachusetts:
|September 24, 1789||1 Stat. 73||1|
|September 14, 1922||42 Stat. 837||3(2 temporary)|
|August 19, 1935||49 Stat. 659||3(Temporary posts made permanent)|
|May 31, 1938||52 Stat. 584||4(1 temporary)|
|November 21, 1941||55 Stat. 773||4(Temporary post made permanent)|
|February 10, 1954||68 Stat. 8||5|
|May 19, 1961||75 Stat. 80||6|
|October 20, 1978||92 Stat. 1629||10|
|July 10, 1984||104 Stat. 5089||11(1 temporary)|
|December 1, 1990||104 Stat. 5089||13(Temporary post made permanent)|
For a searchable list of opinions, please see Opinions for the District of Massachusetts.
| • Boston hybrid taxis Judge(s):William G. Young|
*Ophir v. City Of Boston Civil Action No. 09-10467-WGY
|On December 11, 2009, Judge Young ruled in favor of the Boston Taxi Owners Association who sued the City of Boston over a new policy requiring taxi owners to switch to hybrids by 2015. The taxi owners sued on claims that they were bullied by the Boston Police's Hackney Carriage unit to buy the new hybrids. The judge found in his ruling that the new rules instituted by the Boston Police were in violation of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975.|
| • Adam Walsh Act case Judge(s):Joseph Tauro|
*U.S. v. Hunt Civil Action No. 07-12063-JLT
|Judge Tauro on August 19, 2009, became only the second judge to invoke The Adam Walsh Act of 2006 in which allows judges to indefinitely hold child sex offenders in jail if deemed a public danger.
The judge found Wayne Hunt of New York a danger after a five day proceeding that found the repeat offender to still be a public danger despite serving multiple prison sentences for sexual offenses.However, there could be a legal challenge to Judge Tauro's action from Hunt's attorneys over that the Adam Walsh Act may violate the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.
| • Eilzabeth Hasselbeck case Judge(s):Joseph Tauro|
*Hassett v. Hasselbeck et al 1:2009cv11063
|Judge Tauro on November 16, 2009 dismissed a case against television personality Elizabeth Hasselbeck on charges of plagiarism. Hasselbeck was accused of taking content from a book on celiac disease written by Susan Hassett that Hasselbeck used in her book. The judge dismissed the case after the plantiff's attorneys felt they did not had enough evidence to continue their pursuit of the case.|
| • Boston Scientific recall Judge(s):Douglas Woodlock|
*Mississippi Public Employees' Retirement System v. Boston Scientific Corporation Civil Action No. 05-11934-DPW
|On April 28, 2010, Judge Woodlock threw out a class action lawsuit filed by the Mississippi Public Employees' Retirement System against Boston Scientific. The judge found that the State of Mississippi failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Taxus Express medical device recall was concealed by the manufacturer. Boston Scientific recalled the product after there were serious injuries and deaths related to the Taxus Express device.|
| • Mitt Romney case Judge(s):Nancy Gertner|
*Monahan v. Romney, et al No. 09-2458
|Judge Gertner cleared former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in a wrongful termination case in which the former Chairman of the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission sued the former Governor. The judge ruled in favor of the former Governor saying that William Monahan, the former Civil Service Commission chairman, voluntarily resigned and forfeited his right to due process in his actions. This came after Romney testified in a April hearing that an aide approached Monahan to resign but offered him to help find another job. |
| • Fair use download case Judge(s):Nancy Gertner|
*Sony BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum No. 10-1947
|Judge Gertner presided in a highly publicized civil trial in which a Massachusetts college student was sued for illegal music downloading. .
Capital Records sued Joel Tannenbaum over illegally downloading music on Kazaa, a music sharing program.. Tannenbaum was represented by Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson, who has been critical of the major record companies unfairly targeting young people in lawsuits. On December 7, 2009, Judge Gertner signed off on a $675,000 jury verdict after a jury found Tannenbaum liable for illegal downloading.
| • Salvatore DiMasi case Judge(s):Mark Wolf|
*USA v. DiMasi et al 1:09-cr-10166-MLW-1
|Former Massaschusetts House of Representatives Speaker Salvatore DiMasi is facing trial over corruption charges of steering software contracts for personal gain. On March 24, 2010, Judge Wolf dismissed a motion from DiMasi's attorneys to dismiss the charges over a claim of evidence that should not have been placed in the grand jury indictment. However, Judge Wolf expressed concern that some of the evidence in the indictment could lead to a mistrial|
| • Prisoner sex change Judge(s):Mark Wolf|
*Kosilek v. Department of Corr, et al 1:2000-cv-12455
|Michelle Kosilek has petitioned Judge Wolf to allow the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to grant a sex-change surgery funded by taxpayer expense.
Kosilek sued in 2000 on grounds the State of Massachusetts violated her constitutional rights, while attorneys for the Massachusetts Attorney General feel the after-effects of the surgery could cause security problems.No decision has been made on whether to grant the surgery.
| • John ID Pending Criminal Case Judge(s):Mark Wolf|
*USA v. Robinson USDC, MD Cr. Case No. 08-10309 -MLW
|On July 17, 2009, federal probation officers asked Judge Wolf to intervene in the case of Michelle Robinson. Robinson, a former escort, pleaded guilty in February of 2009 on wire fraud charges. As part of her plea agreement, Robinson was on three years of supervised release. On May 1, 2009, Judge Wolf revoked her supervised release and ordered her to move into a halfway house.  After moving into the halfway house, authorities raised questions of Robinson obtaining a loan to attend beauty school in Boston. Robinson's plea agreement prohibits her from obtaining any line of credit. Attorneys for Robinson have filed a motion to the judge to allow her to obtain a loan. |
| • Fish seller case Judge(s):Douglas Woodlock|
|On July 20, 2009, Judge Woodlock ruled that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration cannot shut down a fish seller with cases pending in court.
NOAA wanted to impose a shutdown penalty on the Gloucester Seafood Display Auction over three different allegations of fishery law violations. Attorneys for NOAA argued for the immediate action over issues of timing and public perception. However, the judge ruled that NOAA's actions preceded the judicial process and ordered an injunction until further notice.NOAA has been under criticism in recent years for overstepping its investigative authority. 
The District of Massachusetts is served by three federal courthouses.
For new stories and other related material see Massachusetts judicial news.
Cameras to be allowed in the courtroom
The court is set to participate in a three-year long pilot program that will see video recordings of civil trials in 14 different federal courts. Massachusetts already allows cameras into state courtrooms with special permission, but this will be a new experience for the federal court. Shooting is set to begin on October 17, 2011, with a few limitations; Criminal trials will not be recorded, the recording of civil cases must be agreed on by both parties and the judge, and only official court videos made by court personnel will be allowed. The videos will be available to the public on www.uscourts.gov.
- United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts Official Website
- United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Official Website
- Opinions of the District of Massachusetts
- Judges of the District of Massachusetts
- ↑ Court Clerk Information(Select the appropriate division from the related resources box)
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 FJC History of the District of Massachusetts
- ↑ "Boston Globe" Judge clarifies ruling saying Boston can’t force hybrid taxi switch, December 11, 2009
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Boston Globe" Repeat sexual offender ordered held indefinitely, August 20, 2009
- ↑ "USA Today" Mass. judge tosses suit against Hasselbeck, November 17, 2009
- ↑ MassDevice "Federal judge tosses securities lawsuit against Boston Scientific", April 29, 2010
- ↑ "Boston Globe" Federal judge clears Romney in firing lawsuit, September 4, 2009
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 "PC World" Second RIAA Piracy Trial Starts: Defense Tactics Include Feng Shui and Legalized Pot, July 28, 2009
- ↑ "ComputerWorld" RIAA vs. Joel Tenenbaum: $675,000 P2P piracy verdict OK'ed, December 8, 2009
- ↑ Canadian Business "Federal judge won't dismiss corruption charges against ex-Massachusetts House Speaker", March 25, 2010
- ↑ "Boston Herald" Judge to hear arguments in inmate’s sex-change, December 21, 2009
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 "Boston Herald" Feds turn to judge on hooker, July 19, 2009
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 "Gloucester Times" Federal judge backs auction, July 21, 2009
- ↑ News Telegram.com, "Cameras can roll in fed court", October 8, 2011
|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 District of Massachusetts has 13 posts and 2 vacancies. The current Chief Judge is Mark Wolf. This is a list of the current judges on the court:
|Judge Joseph Tauro||1931||Winchester, MA||Nixon||10/17/1972 - Present||1992-1999||Francis Ford||Brown U., A.B., 1953||Cornell Law, LL.B., 1956|
|Judge Rya Zobel||1931||Zwickau, Germany||Carter||3/23/1979 - Present||New Seat|92 Stat. 1629||Radcliffe College, A.B., 1953||Harvard Law, LL.B., 1956|
|Judge William G. Young||1940||Huntington, NY||Reagan||4/4/1985 - Present||1999-2005||New Seat| 98 Stat. 333||Harvard U., A.B., 1962||Harvard Law, LL.B., 1967|
|Judge Douglas Woodlock||1947||Hartford, CT||Reagan||6/16/1986 - Present||Wendell Garrity||Yale U., B.A., 1969||Georgetown U., Law, J.D., 1975|
|Judge Nathaniel Gorton||1938||Evanston, IL||H.W. Bush||9/24/1992 - Present||New Seat|104 Stat. 5089||Dartmouth College, A.B., 1960||Columbia Law, LL.B., 1966|
|Judge Richard Stearns||1944||Los Angeles, CA||Clinton||11/24/1993 - Present||John McNaught||Stanford U., B.A., 1968||Harvard Law, J.D., 1976|
|Judge Patti Saris||1951||Boston, MA||Clinton||11/24/1993 - Present||Walter Skinner||Radcliffe College, B.A., 1973||Harvard Law, J.D., 1976|
|Judge George O'Toole||1947||Worcester, MA||Clinton||5/26/1995 (3/1/2001) - Present||Edward Harrington||Boston College, A.B., 1969||Harvard U. Law, J.D., 1972|
|Judge Dennis Saylor||1955||Royal Oak, MI||W. Bush||6/2/2004 - Present||Robert Keeton||Northwestern U., B.S., 1977||Harvard U. Law, J.D., 1981|
|Federal Judge Timothy Hillman||1948||Chicago, IL||Obama||4/4/2012 - Present||Nancy Gertner||Coe College, B.A., 1970||Suffolk U. Law, J.D., 1973|
|Judge Denise Casper||1968||East Patchogue, NY||Obama||12/20/2010 - Present||Reginald Lindsay||Wesleyan University, 1990||Harvard Law School, 1994|
There are no current pending appointments for the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
Senior judgesSee: Federal judges on senior status
The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts has 2 judges on senior status currently. This is a list of the current senior judges on the court:
|Senior Judge Mark Wolf||Reagan||4/4/1985-1/1/2013||2006-2012||1/1/2013-present||Yale U., B.A., 1968||Harvard U. Law, J.D., 1971|
|Senior Judge Edward Harrington||Reagan||2/2/1988 - 3/1/2001||3/1/2001 - Present||College of the Holy Cross, A.B., 1955||Boston College Law School, J.D., 1960|
|Senior Judge Michael Ponsor||Clinton||4/14/1994 - 8/15/2011||8/15/2011 - Present||Harvard U., B.A., 1969||Yale Law, J.D., 1975|
|Magistrate Judge Kenneth Neiman||1/5/1995-Current||Tufts University (1967)||Harvard University Law School (1971)|
|Magistrate Judge Robert Collings||3/15/1982-Current||Hamilton College (1964)||Harvard Law School (1967)|
|Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler||5/7/1990-Current||Regis College (1967)||Suffolk Law School (1976)|
|Magistrate Judge Judith Dein||7/31/2000-Current||Union College (1976)||Boston College Law School (1979)|
|Chief Magistrate Judge Leo Sorokin||4/11/2005-Present||Yale College (1983)||Columbia Law School (1991)|
|Magistrate Judge Jerome Niedermeier||2010 - Present||Boston College, B.A., 1967||Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 1972|
|Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal||2010-Current||Haverford College (1985)||Cornell Law School (1989)|
|Magistrate Judge David Hennessy||2013-present||State University of New York||Fordham University School of Law|
Former Chief judges
|George Clinton Sweeney||1948-1965|
|William G. Young||1999-2005|
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.
|Seat 1||Seat 2||Seat 3|
|Seat 4||Seat 5||Seat 6|
|Seat 7||Seat 8||Seat 9|
|Seat 10||Seat 11||Seat 12|
|Magistrate judges||Kenneth Neiman • Robert Collings • Marianne Bowler • Judith Dein • Leo Sorokin • Jerome Niedermeier • Jennifer Boal • David Hennessy •|
|Former Article III judges||
Reginald Lindsay • Nancy Gertner • Levin Hicks Campbell • John A. Lowell • John Davis (District of Massachusetts) • Peleg Sprague • John Lowell • Thomas Leverett Nelson • Francis Cabot Lowell • Frederic Dodge • James Madison Morton • Elisha Hume Brewster • James Arnold Lowell • Hugh Dean McLellan • George Clinton Sweeney • Francis Ford • David Sutherland Nelson • Bailey Aldrich • Andrew Caffrey • Frank Freedman • Wendell Garrity • Arthur Healey • Anthony Julian • Robert Keeton • David Mazzone • William T. McCarthy • John McNaught • Frank Murray • Walter Skinner • Charles Wyzanski •
|Former Chief judges|