United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas

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United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
(E.D. Tex.)
Seal of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
Location Tyler, Texas
Appeals to Fifth Circuit
Established February 21, 1857
Judges assigned 8
Chief judge Leonard Davis
Official site

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.

Appeals from cases brought in the Eastern District of Texas are taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit.

Judge Leonard Davis, who was appointed to the Court by President George W. Bush, is the current Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. John Malcolm Bates, nominated by President Barack Obama, currently serves as the United States Attorney for the Court. On February 12, 2014 Robert L. Hobbs was confirmed to be the United States Marshal.[1]


The oldest federal civil building in Texas, the 1861 Customs and Courthouse in Galveston, housed headquarters for the Eastern District of Texas between 1861–1891.
Federal Courthouse in Galveston that housed the Eastern District court from 1891–1902, when the Southern District of Texas was created.[2]

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.[3] On February 21, 1857, the state was divided into two districts, Eastern and Western, with Judge Watrous continuing in the Eastern district.[4] 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.

Patent litigation[edit]

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, dubious, 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.[citation needed]

"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.[5]

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.[6]

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,[7] even, according to some claims, in dubious cases (i.e. patent trolls).[8]

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.[9]

Venue disputes[edit]

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has twice granted a writ of mandamus to compel a transfer of venue out of the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas -- once to the Northern District of Texas, and once to the Tyler Division of the Eastern District. [10]

Current judges[edit]

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
23 Chief Judge Leonard Davis Tyler 1948 2002–present 2012–present G.W. Bush
18 District Judge Richard A. Schell Plano 1950 1988–present 1994–2001 Reagan
24 District Judge Ron Clark Beaumont 1953 2002–present G.W. Bush
25 District Judge Marcia A. Crone Beaumont 1952 2003–present G.W. Bush
26 District Judge Michael H. Schneider, Sr. Tyler 1943 2004–present G.W. Bush
27 District Judge James Rodney Gilstrap Marshall 1957 2011–present Obama
28 District Judge vacant
29 District Judge vacant
21 Senior Judge Thad Heartfield Beaumont 1940 1995–2010 2003–2009 2010–present Clinton

Vacancies and pending nominations[edit]

Seat Seat last held by Vacancy reason Date of vacancy Nominee Date of nomination
1 T. John Ward Retirement October 1, 2011 Amos L. Mazzant III June 26, 2014
2 David Folsom Retirement March 17, 2012 Robert W. Schroeder III June 26, 2014

Former judges[edit]

# Judge State Born/Died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Watrous, John CharlesJohn Charles Watrous TX 1801–1874 1857–1870[Note 1] Polk, Polk resignation
2 Winch, Joel C. C.Joel C. C. Winch TX 1835–1880 1870–1871[Note 2] Grant, Grant not confirmed
3 Morrill, AmosAmos Morrill TX 1809–1884 1872–1883 Grant, Grant retirement
4 Sabin, Chauncey BrewerChauncey Brewer Sabin TX 1824–1890 1884–1890 Arthur, Arthur death
5 Bryant, David EzekielDavid Ezekiel Bryant TX 1849–1910 1890–1910 Harrison, B.B. Harrison death
6 Russell, Gordon J.Gordon J. Russell TX 1859–1919 1910–1919 Taft, Taft death
7 Estes, William LeeWilliam Lee Estes TX 1870–1930 1920–1930 Wilson, Wilson death
8 Bryant, RandolphRandolph Bryant TX 1893–1951 1931–1951 Hoover, Hoover death
9 Sheehy, Joseph WarrenJoseph Warren Sheehy TX 1910–1967 1951–1967 1954–1967 Truman, Truman death
10 Cecil, Lamar John RyanLamar John Ryan Cecil TX 1902–1958 1954–1958[Note 3] Eisenhower, Eisenhower death
11 Fisher, Joseph JeffersonJoseph Jefferson Fisher TX 1910–2000 1959–1984 1967–1980 1984–2000 Eisenhower, Eisenhower death
12 Justice, William WayneWilliam Wayne Justice TX 1920–2009 1968–1998 1980–1990 1998–2009 Johnson, L.L. Johnson death
13 Steger, WilliamWilliam Steger TX 1920–2006 1970–1987 1987–2006 Nixon, Nixon death
14 Parker, Robert ManleyRobert Manley Parker TX 1937–present 1979–1994 1990–1994 Carter, Carter reappointment
15 Cobb, HowellHowell Cobb TX 1922–2005 1985–2001 2001–2005 Reagan, Reagan death
16 Hall Jr., Sam BlakeleySam Blakeley Hall Jr. TX 1924–1994 1985–1994 Reagan, Reagan death
17 Brown, Paul N.Paul N. Brown TX 1926–2012 1985–2001 2001–2012 Reagan, Reagan death
19 Hannah, Jr., John H.John H. Hannah, Jr. TX 1939–2003 1994–2003 2001–2003 Clinton, Clinton death
20 Folsom, DavidDavid Folsom TX 1947–present 1995–2012 2009–2012 Clinton, Clinton retirement
22 Ward, T. JohnT. John Ward TX 1943–present 1999–2011 Clinton, Clinton retirement
  1. ^ Reassigned from the District of Texas
  2. ^ Recess appointment; the United States Senate later rejected the appointment.
  3. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on November 8, 1954, confirmed by the United States Senate on December 2, 1954, and received commission on December 3, 1954.

Succession of seats[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]