United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

This page was last edited on 18 January 2018, at 16:33.

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (in case citations, E.D. Va.) is one of two United States district courts serving the Commonwealth of Virginia. It has jurisdiction over the Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and Richmond metro areas and surrounding locations with courthouses located in Alexandria, Norfolk, Richmond and Newport News (whose judges are shared with Norfolk).

Appeals from the Eastern District of Virginia are taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit).

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
Appeals to Fourth Circuit
Established February 4, 1819
Judges assigned 11
Chief Judge Rebecca Beach Smith
U.S. Attorney Dana Boente
United States Post Office and Courthouse (1934), Norfolk city, Virginia
The Norfolk courthouse for the United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia
Spottswood W. Robinson III and Robert R. Merhige, Jr., Federal Courthouse
The Richmond courthouse for the United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia


The United States District Court for the District of Virginia was one of the original 13 courts established by the Judiciary Act of 1789, 1 Stat. 73, on September 24, 1789.[1][2]

On February 13, 1801, the Judiciary Act of 1801, 2 Stat. 89, divided Virginia into three judicial districts: the District of Virginia, which included the counties west of the Tidewater and south of the Rappahannock River; the District of Norfolk, which included the Tidewater counties south of the Rappahannock; and the District of Potomac, which included the counties north and east of the Rappahannock as well as Maryland counties along the Potomac.[2] Just over a year later, on March 8, 1802, the Judiciary Act of 1801 was repealed and Virginia became a single District again, 2 Stat. 132, effective July 1, 1802.[2]

The District of Virginia was subdivided into Eastern and Western Districts on February 4, 1819, by 3 Stat. 478.[1][2] At that time, West Virginia was still part of Virginia, and was encompassed in Virginia's Western District, while the Eastern District essentially covered what is now the entire state of Virginia. With the division of West Virginia from Virginia during the American Civil War, the Western District of Virginia became the District of West Virginia, and those parts of the Western District that were not part of West Virginia were combined with the Eastern District to again form a single District of Virginia on June 11, 1864, by 13 Stat. 124.[2] Congress again divided Virginia into Eastern and the Western Districts on February 3, 1871, by 16 Stat. 403.[2]

During the 1960s, Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. ran the Alexandria court, often ruled cases on the spot after motions were argued. The court earned the nickname of "rocket docket" for the speed and efficiency for which it processes its cases. Since 1997, the court has processed civil cases the fastest of the 94 federal districts, and eighth fastest in dealing with criminal cases.[3] Courts at Richmond are located in the Spottswood W. Robinson III and Robert R. Merhige, Jr., Federal Courthouse,[4] having previously been held in the historic Lewis F. Powell, Jr. United States Courthouse.


The Eastern District of Virginia has within its jurisdiction the following counties: Accomack, Amelia, Arlington, Brunswick, Caroline, Charles City, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Essex, Fairfax, Fauquier, Gloucester, Goochland, Greensville, Hanover, Henrico, Isle of Wight, James City, King and Queen, King George, King William, Lancaster, Loudoun, Lunenburg, Mathews, Mecklenburg, Middlesex, New Kent, Northampton, Northumberland, Nottoway, Powhatan, Prince Edward, Prince George, Prince William, Richmond, Southampton, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Surry, Sussex, Westmoreland, York County.[5] The district also has jurisdiction over independent cities that are geographically located with these counties, but that are not politically part of them.[6]

The Eastern District of Virginia court's jurisdiction covers slightly over six million people, comprising approximately 85% of the state's population.

United States Attorney

The current U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia is Dana J. Boente, serving as prosecution for criminal cases brought by the Federal government, and representing the United States in civil cases in the court. He served in an acting capacity until he was confirmed on December 15, 2015. 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.[7] Neil H. MacBride and Chuck Rosenberg previously served as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Current judges

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
30 Chief Judge Rebecca Beach Smith Norfolk 1949 1989–present 2011–present G.H.W. Bush
33 District Judge Leonie Brinkema Alexandria 1944 1993–present Clinton
34 District Judge Raymond Alvin Jackson Norfolk 1949 1993–present Clinton
37 District Judge Henry E. Hudson Richmond 1947 2002–present G.W. Bush
39 District Judge Liam O'Grady Alexandria 1950 2007–present G.W. Bush
40 District Judge Mark Steven Davis Norfolk 1962 2008–present G.W. Bush
41 District Judge Anthony John Trenga Alexandria 1949 2008–present G.W. Bush
42 District Judge John A. Gibney, Jr. Richmond 1951 2010–present Obama
43 District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen Norfolk 1960 2011–present Obama
44 District Judge M. Hannah Lauck Richmond 1963 2014–present Obama
45 District Judge vacant
21 Senior Judge Albert Vickers Bryan Jr. inactive 1926 1971–present 1985–1991 1991–present Nixon
25 Senior Judge James C. Cacheris Alexandria 1933 1981–1998 1991–1997 1998–present Reagan
26 Senior Judge Robert G. Doumar Norfolk 1930 1981–1997 1997–present Reagan
27 Senior Judge Claude M. Hilton Alexandria 1940 1985–2005 1997–2004 2005–present Reagan
29 Senior Judge T. S. Ellis, III Alexandria 1940 1987–2007 2007–present Reagan
31 Senior Judge Henry Coke Morgan, Jr. Norfolk 1935 1992–2004 2004–present G.H.W. Bush
32 Senior Judge Robert E. Payne Richmond 1941 1992–2007 2007–present G.H.W. Bush

Vacancies and pending nominations

Seat Seat last held by Vacancy reason Date of vacancy Nominee Date of nomination
8 Gerald Bruce Lee Retirement September 30, 2017
11 Henry E. Hudson Senior Status June 1, 2018[8]

Former judges

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Tucker, St. GeorgeSt. George Tucker VA 1752–1827 1813–1825[9] Madison, Madison resignation
2 Hay, GeorgeGeorge Hay VA 1765–1830 1825–1830[10] Adams, J.Q.J.Q. Adams death
3 Barbour, Philip PendletonPhilip Pendleton Barbour VA 1783–1841 1830–1836[11] Jackson, Jackson appointment to Supreme Court
4 Daniel, Peter VivianPeter Vivian Daniel VA 1784–1860 1836–1841 Jackson, Jackson appointment to Supreme Court
5 Mason, John Y.John Y. Mason VA 1799–1859 1841–1844 Van Buren, Van Buren resignation
6 Halyburton, James DandridgeJames Dandridge Halyburton VA 1803–1879 1844–1861 Tyler, Tyler resignation
7 Underwood, John CurtissJohn Curtiss Underwood VA 1809–1873 1863–1873[12][13] Lincoln, Lincoln death
8 Hughes, Robert WilliamRobert William Hughes VA 1821–1901 1874–1898 Grant, Grant retirement
9 Waddill Jr., EdmundEdmund Waddill Jr. VA 1855–1931 1898–1921 McKinley, McKinley appointment to 4th Cir.
10 Groner, Duncan LawrenceDuncan Lawrence Groner VA 1873–1957 1921–1931 Harding, Harding appointment to D.C. Cir.
11 Way, Luther B.Luther B. Way VA 1879–1943 1931–1943 Hoover, Hoover death
12 Pollard, Robert NelsonRobert Nelson Pollard VA 1880–1954 1936–1947 1947–1954 Roosevelt, F.F. Roosevelt death
13 Hutcheson, Charles SterlingCharles Sterling Hutcheson VA 1894–1969 1944–1959 1948–1959 1959–1969 Roosevelt, F.F. Roosevelt death
14 Bryan, Albert VickersAlbert Vickers Bryan VA 1899–1984 1947–1961 1959–1961 Truman, Truman appointment to 4th Cir.
15 Hoffman, Walter EdwardWalter Edward Hoffman VA 1907–1996 1954–1974 1961–1973 1974–1996 Eisenhower, Eisenhower death
16 Lewis, Oren RitterOren Ritter Lewis VA 1902–1983 1960–1974 1974–1983 Eisenhower, Eisenhower death
17 Butzner Jr., John DeckerJohn Decker Butzner Jr. VA 1917–2006 1962–1967 Kennedy, Kennedy appointment to 4th Cir.
18 Kellam, Richard BoykinRichard Boykin Kellam VA 1909–1996 1967–1981 1973–1979 1981–1996 Johnson, L.L. Johnson death
19 MacKenzie, John AshtonJohn Ashton MacKenzie VA 1917–2010 1967–1985 1979–1985 1985–1998 Johnson, L.L. Johnson retirement
20 Merhige Jr., Robert ReynoldRobert Reynold Merhige Jr. VA 1919–2005 1967–1986 1986–1998 Johnson, L.L. Johnson retirement
22 Warriner, David DortchDavid Dortch Warriner VA 1929–1986 1974–1986 Nixon, Nixon death
23 Clarke Jr., Joseph CalvittJoseph Calvitt Clarke Jr. VA 1920–2004 1974–1991 1991–2004 Ford, Ford death
24 Williams, Richard LeroyRichard Leroy Williams VA 1923–2011 1980–1992 1992–2011 Carter, Carter death
28 Spencer, James R.James R. Spencer VA 1949–present 1986–2014 2004–2011 2014–2017 Reagan, Reagan retirement
35 Friedman, Jerome B.Jerome B. Friedman VA 1943–present 1997–2010 2010–2011 Clinton, Clinton retirement
36 Lee, Gerald BruceGerald Bruce Lee VA 1952–present 1998–2017 Clinton retirement
38 Kelley Jr., Walter DeKalbWalter DeKalb Kelley Jr. VA 1955–present 2004–2008 Bush, G.W.G.W. Bush resignation

Chief judges

Chief judges have administrative responsibilities with respect to their district court, and preside over any panel on which they serve unless circuit judges are also on the panel. Unlike the Supreme Court, where one justice is specifically nominated to be chief, the office of chief judge rotates among the district court judges. To be chief, 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 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.

When the office was created in 1948, the chief judge was 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. After August 6, 1959, judges could not become or remain chief after turning 70 years old. The current rules have been in operation since October 1, 1982.

Succession of seats

Seat 1
Seat established on February 4, 1819 by 3 Stat. 478
Tucker 1819–1825
Hay 1825–1830
Barbour 1830–1836
Daniel 1836–1841
Mason 1841–1844
Halyburton 1844–1861
Underwood 1863–1864
Seat reassigned to the District of Virginia on June 11, 1864 by 13 Stat. 124
Seat reassigned from the District of Virginia on February 3, 1871 by 16 Stat. 403
Underwood 1871–1873
Hughes 1874–1898
Waddill, Jr. 1898–1921
Groner 1921–1931
Way 1931–1943
Hutcheson 1944–1959
Lewis 1960–1974
Warriner 1974–1986
Smith 1989–present
Seat 2
Seat established on August 2, 1935 by 49 Stat. 508
Pollard 1936–1947
Bryan 1947–1961
Butzner, Jr. 1962–1967
Merhige, Jr. 1967–1986
Ellis III 1987–2007
Davis 2008–present
Seat 3
Seat established on February 10, 1954 by 68 Stat. 8
Hoffman 1954–1974
Clarke, Jr. 1974–1991
Payne 1992–2007
Gibney, Jr. 2010–present
Seat 4
Seat established on March 18, 1966 by 80 Stat. 75
Kellam 1967–1981
Doumar 1981–1996
Friedman 1997–2010
Allen 2011–present
Seat 5
Seat established on March 18, 1966 by 80 Stat. 75
MacKenzie 1967–1985
Spencer 1986–2014
Lauck 2014–present
Seat 6
Seat established on June 2, 1970 by 84 Stat. 294
Bryan, Jr. 1971–1991
Brinkema 1993–present
Seat 7
Seat established on October 20, 1978 by 92 Stat. 1629
Williams 1980–1992
Jackson 1993–present
Seat 8
Seat established on October 20, 1978 by 92 Stat. 1629
Cacheris 1981–1998
Lee 1998–2017
vacant 2017–present
Seat 9
Seat established on July 10, 1984 by 98 Stat. 333
Hilton 1985–2005
O'Grady 2007–present
Seat 10
Seat established on December 1, 1990 by 104 Stat. 5089 (temporary)
Seat made permanent on November 2, 2002 by 116 Stat. 1758
Morgan, Jr. 1992–2004
Kelley, Jr. 2004–2008
Trenga 2008–present
Seat 11
Seat established on December 21, 2000 by 114 Stat. 2762
Hudson 2002–present

Notable cases

The Eastern District of Virginia has handled many notable cases, including:

See also


  1. ^ a b Asbury Dickens, A Synoptical Index to the Laws and Treaties of the United States of America (1852), p. 388.
  2. ^ a b c d e f U.S. District Courts of Virginia, Legislative history, Federal Judicial Center.
  3. ^ Markon, Jerry (October 3, 2004). "A Double Dose of Molasses in the Rocket Docket". The Washington Post.
  4. ^ "Richmond Courthouse". Retrieved March 8, 2013.
  5. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 127(a)
  6. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 127(c)
  7. ^ U.S. Attorney's Office – Eastern District of Virginia – Priorities
  8. ^ Future Judicial Vacancies
  9. ^ Initially appointed to the United States District Court for the District of Virginia, reassigned by operation of law to the Eastern District of Virginia on February 4, 1819.
  10. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 13, 1825, confirmed by the United States Senate on March 31, 1826, and received commission on March 31, 1826.
  11. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 14, 1830, confirmed by the United States Senate on December 16, 1830, and received commission on December 16, 1830.
  12. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on January 5, 1864, confirmed by the United States Senate on January 25, 1864, and received commission on January 25, 1864.
  13. ^ Reassigned to the United States District Court for the District of Virginia on June 11, 1964, reassigned to the Eastern District of Virginia on February 3, 1871.
  14. ^ a b c d United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Notable cases
  15. ^ "Soudní jednání o vydání Kevina Dahlgrena začne 12. září" (in Czech). Týden. August 13, 2013. Retrieved August 13, 2013.

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