The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (in case citations, E.D. Tex.) is the Federal district court with jurisdiction over the eastern part of Texas and is a part of the Fifth Circuit. The court's headquarters are in Tyler, Texas and has five subdivision offices in Beaumont, Lufkin, Marshall, Sherman, and Texarkana. The district covers 43 counties in Texas. The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court.
The first federal judge in Texas was John C. Watrous, who was appointed on May 26, 1846, and had previously served as Attorney General of the Republic of Texas. He was assigned to hold court in Galveston, at the time, the largest city in the state. As seat of the Texas Judicial District, the Galveston court had jurisdiction over the whole state. On February 21, 1857, the state was divided into two districts, Eastern and Western, with Judge Watrous continuing in the Eastern district. Judge Watrous and Judge Thomas H. DuVal, of the Western District of Texas, left the state on the secession of Texas from the Union, the only two United States Judges not to resign their posts in states that seceded. When Texas was restored to the Union, Watrous and DuVal resumed their duties and served until 1870. Judge Amos Morrill served in the Eastern District of Texas from 1872 to 1884. He was succeeded by Chauncy B. Sabin (1884 to 1890) and David E. Bryant (1890 to 1902). In 1902, when the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas was created by Act of Congress, Judge Bryant continued to serve in the Eastern District of Texas and its headquarters was moved from Galveston to Tyler.
Most recently, the Eastern District of Texas has seen an increase in the number of cases filed relating to patent infringement. This District has experienced an increase in the number of patent cases filed and tried, notably in the courts of Judge T. John Ward in the Marshall Division, Judge Leonard Davis in the Tyler Division, and Judge David Folsom in the Texarkana Division. Perhaps because the district has a set of local rules for patent cases and relatively fast trial settings, patent plaintiffs have flocked to this small venue. In addition the proximity to larger cities (such as Dallas and Houston) along with an aging jury pool interested in protecting property rights, may attract patent cases to Marshall, Tyler, and Texarkana.
"An attorney who has been admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, a United States Court of Appeals, a United States District Court, or the highest court of a state, is eligible for admission to the bar of" the Eastern District Court.
In 2003, there were 14 patent cases filed. In 2004, this number more than quadrupled to 59 patent cases filed. In 2006, the number of cases grew to an estimated 236.
The district has been perceived to be a favorable jurisdiction for plaintiffs in patent infringement lawsuits, which win 88% of the time compared to a nation-wide average of 68% in 2006, even, according to some claims, in dubious cases (i.e. patent trolls).
Between 2004 and 2011 the district presided over TiVo Inc. v. EchoStar Corp., involving the issues of patent infringement and contempt of court.
In 2009 Judge Leonard Davis, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, ordered a permanent injunction that "prohibits Microsoft from selling or importing to the United States any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML," according to an announcement by the plaintiff, Toronto-based i4i Inc.
As of October 1, 2011, a vacancy exists in the Eastern District of Texas due to Judge T. John Ward's decision to retire. On June 26, 2014, President Obama nominated Amos L. Mazzant III to fill this vacancy.
As of March 17, 2012, a second vacancy exists due to Chief Judge David Folsom's decision to retire. On June 26, 2014, President Obama nominated Robert W. Schroeder III to fill this vacancy.