United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee
|United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee|
|Appeals to||Sixth Circuit|
|Established||April 29, 1802|
|Chief Judge||Stanley Thomas Anderson|
|Officers of the court|
|U.S. Attorney||D. Michael Dunavant|
The United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee (in case citations, W.D. Tenn.) is the Federal district court covering the western part of the state of Tennessee. Appeals from the Western District of Tennessee are taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit).
The jurisdiction of the Western District of Tennessee comprises the following counties: Benton, Carroll, Chester, Crockett, Decatur, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Henry, Lake, Lauderdale, Madison, McNairy, Obion, Perry, Shelby, Tipton, and Weakley.
The United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Tennessee represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. The current United States Attorney is D. Michael Dunavant.
The United States District Court for the District of Tennessee was established with one judgeship on January 31, 1797, by 1 Stat. 496. The judgeship was filled by President George Washington's appointment of John McNairy. Since Congress failed to assign the district to a circuit, the court had the jurisdiction of both a district court and a circuit court. Appeals from this one district court went directly to the United States Supreme Court.
On February 13, 1801, in the famous " Midnight Judges" Act of 1801, 2 Stat. 89, Congress abolished the U.S. district court in Tennessee, and expanded the number of circuits to six, provided for independent circuit court judgeships, and abolished the necessity of Supreme Court Justices riding the circuits. It was this legislation which created the grandfather of the present Sixth Circuit. The act provided for a "Sixth Circuit" comprising two districts in the State of Tennessee, one district in the State of Kentucky and one district, called the Ohio District, composed of the Ohio and Indiana territories (the latter including the present State of Michigan). The new Sixth Circuit Court was to be held at "Bairdstown" in the District of Kentucky, at Knoxville in the District of East Tennessee, at Nashville in the District of West Tennessee, and at Cincinnati in the District of Ohio. Unlike the other circuits which were provided with three circuit judges, the Sixth Circuit was to have only one circuit judge with district judges from Kentucky and Tennessee comprising the rest of the court. Any two judges constituted a quorum. New circuit judgeships were to be created as district judgeships in Kentucky and Tennessee became vacant.
The repeal of this Act restored the District on March 8, 1802, 2 Stat. 132. The District was divided into the Eastern and Western Districts on April 29, 1802. On February 24, 1807, Congress again abolished the two districts and created the United States Circuit for the District of Tennessee. On March 3, 1837, Congress assigned the judicial district of Tennessee to the Eighth Circuit. On June 18, 1839, by 5 Stat. 313, Congress divided Tennessee into three districts, Eastern, Middle, and Western. Again, only one judgeship was allotted for all three districts. On July 15, 1862, Congress reassigned appellate jurisdiction to the Sixth Circuit. Finally, on June 14, 1878, Congress authorized a separate judgeship for the Western District of Tennessee. President Rutherford B. Hayes then appointed Eli Shelby Hammond as the first judge for only the Western District of Tennessee.
There are now five permanent judgeships and four magistrate judgeships for the Western District of Tennessee.
|#||Title||Judge||Duty station||Born||Term of service||Appointed by|
|22||Chief Judge||Stanley Thomas Anderson||Memphis||1953||2008–present||2017–present||—||G.W. Bush|
|23||District Judge||John Thomas Fowlkes Jr.||Memphis||1951||2012–present||—||—||Obama|
|24||District Judge||Sheryl H. Lipman||Memphis||1963||2014–present||—||—||Obama|
|25||District Judge||Tommy Parker||Memphis||1963||2018–present||—||—||Trump|
|16||Senior Judge||James Dale Todd||Jackson||1943||1985–2008||2001–2007||2008–present||Reagan|
|18||Senior Judge||Jon Phipps McCalla||Memphis||1947||1992–2013||2008–2013||2013–present||G.H.W. Bush|
|20||Senior Judge||Samuel H. Mays Jr.||Memphis||1948||2002–2015||—||2015–present||G.W. Bush|
|21||Senior Judge||J. Daniel Breen||Jackson||1950||2003–2017||2013–2017||2017–present||G.W. Bush|
Vacancies and pending nominations
|Seat||Seat last held by||Vacancy reason||Date of vacancy||Nominee||Date of nomination|
|4||J. Daniel Breen||Senior Status||March 18, 2017||Mark Norris||January 8, 2018|
|#||Judge||State||Born–died||Active service||Chief Judge||Senior status||Appointed by||Reason for|
|1||John McNairy||TN||1762–1837||1802–1833[Note 1]||—||—||Washington||resignation|
|2||Morgan Welles Brown||TN||1800–1853||1834–1853||—||—||Jackson||death|
|3||West Hughes Humphreys||TN||1806–1882||1853–1862||—||—||Pierce||impeachment and conviction|
|4||Connally Findlay Trigg||TN||1810–1880||1862–1878||—||—||Lincoln||reassignment to E.D. Tenn. and M.D. Tenn.|
|5||Eli Shelby Hammond||TN||1838–1904||1878–1904||—||—||Hayes||death|
|6||John E. McCall||TN||1859–1920||1905–1920||—||—||T. Roosevelt||death|
|7||John William Ross||TN||1878–1925||1921–1925||—||—||Harding||death|
|8||Harry Bennett Anderson||TN||1879–1935||1925–1935[Note 2]||—||—||Coolidge||death|
|9||John Donelson Martin Sr.||TN||1883–1962||1935–1940||—||—||F. Roosevelt||appointment to 6th Cir.|
|10||Marion Speed Boyd||TN||1900–1988||1940–1966||1961–1966||1966–1988||F. Roosevelt||death|
|11||Bailey Brown||TN||1917–2004||1961–1979||1966–1979||—||Kennedy||appointment to 6th Cir.|
|12||Robert Malcolm McRae Jr.||TN||1921–2004||1966–1986||1979–1986||1986–2004||L. Johnson||death|
|13||Harry W. Wellford||TN||1924–present||1970–1982||—||—||Nixon||appointment to 6th Cir.|
|15||Julia Smith Gibbons||TN||1950–present||1983–2002||1994–2000||—||Reagan||appointment to 6th Cir.|
|19||Bernice B. Donald||TN||1951–present||1995–2011||—||—||Clinton||appointment to 6th Cir.|
Chief judges have administrative responsibilities with respect to their district court. 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
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee is based out of two courthouses, the Clifford Davis Federal Building on 167 North Main Street in downtown Memphis and the Ed Jones Federal Building in Jackson, Tennessee.
- Asbury Dickens, A Synoptical Index to the Laws and Treaties of the United States of America (1852), p. 391.
- U.S. District Courts of Tennessee, Legislative history, Federal Judicial Center.
- The Honorable Harry Phillips, "History of the Sixth Circuit Archived January 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.".
- Alfred Conkling, A Treatise on the Organization, Jurisdiction and Practice of the Courts of the United States (1842), p. 42.
- United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee official website
- United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee official website