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United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Coordinates: 37°32′16″N 77°26′05″W / 37.53769°N 77.43481°W / 37.53769; -77.43481
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
(4th Cir.)
LocationLewis F. Powell Jr. U.S. Courthouse
Appeals from
EstablishedJune 16, 1891
Circuit JusticeJohn Roberts
Chief JudgeAlbert Diaz

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (in case citations, 4th Cir.) is a federal court located in Richmond, Virginia, with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:

The court is based at the Lewis F. Powell Jr. United States Courthouse in Richmond, Virginia. With 15 authorized judgeships, it is mid-sized among the 13 United States Courts of Appeals.

Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Courthouse

Current composition of the court[edit]

As of March 19, 2024:[1][2]

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
48 Chief Judge Albert Diaz Charlotte, NC 1960 2010–present 2023–present Obama
30 Circuit Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III Charlottesville, VA 1944 1984–present 1996–2003 Reagan
33 Circuit Judge Paul V. Niemeyer Baltimore, MD 1941 1990–present G.H.W. Bush
40 Circuit Judge Robert Bruce King Charleston, WV 1940 1998–present Clinton
41 Circuit Judge Roger Gregory Richmond, VA 1953 2000–present 2016–2023 Clinton /
G.W. Bush
44 Circuit Judge G. Steven Agee Salem, VA 1952 2008–present G.W. Bush
47 Circuit Judge James Andrew Wynn Raleigh, NC 1954 2010–present Obama
50 Circuit Judge Stephanie Thacker Charleston, WV 1965 2012–present Obama
51 Circuit Judge Pamela Harris Bethesda, MD 1962 2014–present Obama
52 Circuit Judge Julius N. Richardson Columbia, SC 1976 2018–present Trump
53 Circuit Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. Greenville, SC 1964 2018–present Trump
54 Circuit Judge Allison Jones Rushing Asheville, NC 1982 2019–present Trump
55 Circuit Judge Toby J. Heytens Alexandria, VA 1975 2021–present Biden
56 Circuit Judge DeAndrea G. Benjamin Columbia, SC 1972 2023–present Biden
57 Circuit Judge Nicole Berner Baltimore, MD 1965 2024–present Biden
38 Senior Circuit Judge Diana Gribbon Motz Baltimore, MD 1943 1994–2022 2022–present Clinton
39 Senior Circuit Judge William Byrd Traxler Jr. Greenville, SC 1948 1998–2018 2009–2016 2018–present Clinton
46 Senior Circuit Judge Barbara Milano Keenan Alexandria, VA 1950 2010–2021 2021–present Obama
49 Senior Circuit Judge Henry F. Floyd Spartanburg, SC 1947 2011–2021 2021–present Obama

Vacancies and pending nominations[edit]

Seat Prior judge's duty station Seat last held by Vacancy reason Date of vacancy Nominee Date of nomination
7 Raleigh, NC James Andrew Wynn Senior status TBD[3] Ryan Y. Park July 8, 2024

List of former judges[edit]

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Hugh Lennox Bond MD 1828–1893 1891–1893 Grant / Operation of law[4] death
2 Nathan Goff Jr. WV 1843–1920 1892–1913 B. Harrison resignation
3 Charles Henry Simonton SC 1829–1904 1893–1904 Cleveland death
4 Jeter Connelly Pritchard NC 1857–1921 1904–1921 T. Roosevelt death
5 Martin Augustine Knapp NY 1843–1923 1916–1923 [5] death
6 Charles Albert Woods SC 1852–1925 1913–1925 Wilson death
7 Edmund Waddill Jr. VA 1855–1931 1921–1931 Harding death
8 John Carter Rose MD 1861–1927 1922–1927 Harding death
9 John J. Parker NC 1885–1958 1925–1958 1948–1958 Coolidge death
10 Elliott Northcott WV 1869–1946 1927–1939 1939–1946 Coolidge death
11 Morris Ames Soper[6] MD 1873–1963 1931–1955 1955–1963 Hoover death
12 Armistead Mason Dobie[6] VA 1881–1962 1939–1956 1956–1962 F. Roosevelt death
13 Simon Sobeloff MD 1894–1973 1956–1970 1958–1964 1970–1973 Eisenhower death
14 Clement Haynsworth SC 1912–1989 1957–1981 1964–1981 1981–1989 Eisenhower death
15 Herbert Stephenson Boreman WV 1897–1982 1959–1971 1971–1982 Eisenhower death
16 Albert Vickers Bryan VA 1899–1984 1961–1972 1972–1984 Kennedy death
17 J. Spencer Bell NC 1906–1967 1961–1967 Kennedy death
18 Harrison Lee Winter MD 1921–1990 1966–1990 1981–1989 1990 L. Johnson death
19 James Braxton Craven Jr. NC 1918–1977 1966–1977 L. Johnson death
20 John D. Butzner Jr. VA 1917–2006 1967–1982 1982–2006 L. Johnson death
21 Donald S. Russell SC 1906–1998 1971–1998 Nixon death
22 John A. Field Jr. WV 1910–1995 1971–1976 1976–1995 Nixon death
23 Hiram Emory Widener Jr. VA 1923–2007 1972–2007 2007 Nixon death
24 Kenneth Keller Hall WV 1918–1999 1976–1998 1998–1999 Ford death
25 James Dickson Phillips Jr. NC 1922–2017 1978–1994 1994–2017 Carter death
26 Francis Dominic Murnaghan Jr. MD 1920–2000 1979–2000 Carter death
27 James Marshall Sprouse WV 1923–2004 1979–1992 1992–1995 Carter retirement
28 Samuel James Ervin III NC 1926–1999 1980–1999 1989–1996 Carter death
29 Robert F. Chapman SC 1926–2018 1981–1991 1991–2018 Reagan death
31 Emory M. Sneeden NC 1927–1987 1984–1986 Reagan resignation
32 William Walter Wilkins SC 1942–present 1986–2007 2003–2007 2007–2008 Reagan retirement
34 Clyde H. Hamilton SC 1934–2020 1991–1999 1999–2020 G.H.W. Bush death
35 J. Michael Luttig VA 1954–present 1991–2006 G.H.W. Bush resignation
36 Karen J. Williams SC 1951–2013 1992–2009 2007–2009 2009–2013 G.H.W. Bush death
37 M. Blane Michael WV 1943–2011 1993–2011 Clinton death
42 Dennis Shedd SC 1953–present 2002–2018 2018–2022 G.W. Bush retirement
43 Allyson K. Duncan NC 1951–present 2003–2019 2019 G.W. Bush retirement
45 Andre M. Davis MD 1949–present 2009–2014 2014–2017 Obama retirement

Chief judges[edit]

Chief Judge
Parker 1948–1958
Sobeloff 1958–1964
Haynsworth 1964–1981
Winter 1981–1989
Ervin III 1989–1996
Wilkinson III 1996–2003
Wilkins 2003–2007
Williams 2007–2009
Traxler, Jr. 2009–2016
Gregory 2016–2023
Diaz 2023–present

Chief judges have administrative responsibilities with respect to their circuits, and preside over any panel on which they serve, unless the circuit justice (the Supreme Court justice responsible for the circuit) is 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 circuit 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, with seniority determined first by commission date, then by age. The chief judge serves for a term of seven years, or until age 70, whichever occurs first. If no judge qualifies to be chief, the youngest judge over the age of 65 who has served on the court for at least one year shall act as chief until another judge qualifies. If no judge has served on the court for more than a year, the most senior judge shall act as chief. Judges can forfeit or resign their chief judgeship or acting chief judgeship while retaining their active status as a circuit judge.[7]

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.[8]

Succession of seats[edit]

The court has fifteen seats for active judges, numbered in the order in which they were initially filled. Judges who assume senior status enter a kind of retirement in which they remain on the bench but vacate their seats, thus allowing the U.S. President to appoint new judges to fill their seats.

Practice in the 4th Circuit[edit]

From 2000 to 2008, the Court had the highest rate of non-publication (92%) on the Federal Circuit.[9]

The Chief Justice is always assigned to the Fourth Circuit as the circuit justice, due to Richmond's close proximity to Washington, D.C.[citation needed]

The Fourth Circuit is considered an extremely collegial court. By tradition, the judges of the Fourth Circuit come down from the bench following each oral argument to greet the lawyers.[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Recess appointment by Bill Clinton on December 27, 2000, re-nominated by George W. Bush on May 9, 2001 and confirmed by the United States Senate on July 20, 2001.


  1. ^ "U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit". Official website of the Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  2. ^ "Fourth Circuit Judges". Official website of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Retrieved March 19, 2024.
  3. ^ "Future Judicial Vacancies | United States Courts". www.uscourts.gov.
  4. ^ Bond was appointed as a circuit judge for the Fourth Circuit in 1870 by Ulysses S. Grant. The Judiciary Act of 1891 reassigned his seat to what is now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
  5. ^ Knapp did not have a permanent seat on this court. Instead, he was appointed to the ill-fated United States Commerce Court in 1910 by William Howard Taft. Aside from their duties on the Commerce Court, the judges of the Commerce Court also acted as at-large appellate judges, able to be assigned by the Chief Justice of the United States to whichever circuit most needed help. Knapp was assigned to the Second Circuit upon his commission and then to the Fourth Circuit in 1916.
  6. ^ a b Recess appointment, confirmed by the United States Senate at a later date.
  7. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 45
  8. ^ 62 Stat. 871, 72 Stat. 497, 96 Stat. 51
  9. ^ Aaron S. Bayer (August 24, 2009), Unpublished Appellate Opinions Are Still Commonplace, The National Law Journal
  10. ^ Roberts, John G. (2006). "What Makes the D.C. Circuit Different?: A Historical View". Virginia Law Review. 92 (3): 375–389. ISSN 0042-6601. JSTOR 4144947.
  11. ^ Sontag, Deborah (2003-03-09). "The Power of the Fourth". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-08.

External links[edit]

37°32′16″N 77°26′05″W / 37.53769°N 77.43481°W / 37.53769; -77.43481