United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

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United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
(10th Cir.)
LocationByron White U.S. Courthouse
Appeals from
EstablishedMarch 28, 1929
Circuit JusticeNeil Gorsuch
Chief JudgeJerome Holmes

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (in case citations, 10th Cir.) is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:

These districts were part of the Eighth Circuit until 1929. The court is composed of nineteen active judges and is based at the Byron White U.S. Courthouse in Denver, Colorado. It is one of thirteen United States courts of appeals and has jurisdiction over 560,625 square miles,[1] or roughly one seventh of the country's land mass.


U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, as it appeared around 1916.

Congress created a new judicial circuit in 1929 to accommodate the increased caseload in the federal courts. Between 1866 and 1912, twelve new states had entered the Union and been incorporated into the Eighth and Ninth Circuits. The Eighth Circuit encompassed 13 states and had become the largest in the nation.[2]

Chief Justice William Howard Taft suggested the reorganization of the Eighth Circuit Court in response to widespread opposition in 1928 to a proposal to reorganize the nation's entire circuit structure. The original plan had sprung from an American Bar Association committee in 1925 and would have changed the composition of all but two circuits.[2]

The House of Representatives considered two proposals to divide the existing Eighth Circuit. A bill by Representative Walter Newton would separate the circuit's eastern and western states. An alternate proposal divided the northern from the southern states. With the judges and bar of the existing Eighth Circuit for Newton's bill and little opposition to dividing the circuit, lawmakers focused on providing for more judgeships and meeting places of the circuit courts of appeals in their deliberations.[2]

In 1929, Congress passed a law that placed the federal U.S. district courts in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, and Arkansas in the Eighth Circuit and created a Tenth Circuit that included Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Three additional judgeships were authorized and the sitting circuit judges were reassigned according to their residence. The Tenth Circuit was assigned a total of four judgeships.[3]

Current composition of the court[edit]

As of December 13, 2023:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
38 Chief Judge Jerome Holmes Oklahoma City, OK 1961 2006–present 2022–present G.W. Bush
33 Circuit Judge Harris Hartz Albuquerque, NM 1947 2001–present G.W. Bush
36 Circuit Judge Timothy Tymkovich Denver, CO 1956 2003–present 2015–2022 G.W. Bush
39 Circuit Judge Scott Matheson Jr. Salt Lake City, UT 1953 2010–present Obama
40 Circuit Judge Robert E. Bacharach Oklahoma City, OK 1959 2013–present Obama
41 Circuit Judge Gregory A. Phillips Cheyenne, WY 1960 2013–present Obama
42 Circuit Judge Carolyn B. McHugh Salt Lake City, UT 1957 2014–present Obama
43 Circuit Judge Nancy Moritz Topeka, KS 1960 2014–present Obama
44 Circuit Judge Allison H. Eid Denver, CO 1965 2017–present Trump
45 Circuit Judge Joel M. Carson III Roswell, NM 1971 2018–present Trump
46 Circuit Judge Veronica S. Rossman Denver, CO 1972 2021–present Biden
47 Circuit Judge Richard Federico Topeka, KS 1977 2023–present Biden
21 Senior Circuit Judge Stephanie Kulp Seymour Tulsa, OK 1940 1979–2005 1994–2000 2005–present Carter
22 Senior Circuit Judge John Carbone Porfilio[4] inactive 1934 1985–1999 1999–present Reagan
23 Senior Circuit Judge Stephen H. Anderson inactive 1932 1985–2000 2000–present Reagan
25 Senior Circuit Judge Bobby Baldock Roswell, NM 1936 1985–2001 2001–present Reagan
26 Senior Circuit Judge Wade Brorby inactive 1934 1988–2001 2001–present Reagan
27 Senior Circuit Judge David M. Ebel Denver, CO 1940 1988–2006 2006–present Reagan
28 Senior Circuit Judge Paul Joseph Kelly Jr. Santa Fe, NM 1940 1992–2017 2017–present G.H.W. Bush
30 Senior Circuit Judge Mary Beck Briscoe Lawrence, KS 1947 1995–2021 2010–2015 2021–present Clinton
31 Senior Circuit Judge Carlos F. Lucero Denver, CO 1940 1995–2021 2021–present Clinton
32 Senior Circuit Judge Michael R. Murphy Salt Lake City, UT 1947 1995–2012 2012–present Clinton
34 Senior Circuit Judge Terrence L. O'Brien Cheyenne, WY 1943 2002–2013 2013–present G.W. Bush

List of former judges[edit]

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Robert E. Lewis CO 1857–1941 1929–1940 1940–1941 Harding / Operation of law[5] death
2 John Hazelton Cotteral OK 1864–1933 1929–1933 Coolidge / Operation of law[6] death
3 Orie Leon Phillips NM 1885–1974 1929–1956 1948–1956 1956–1974 Hoover death
4 George Thomas McDermott KS 1886–1937 1929–1937 Hoover death
5 Sam G. Bratton NM 1888–1963 1933–1961 1956–1959 1961–1963 F. Roosevelt death
6 Robert L. Williams OK 1868–1948 1937–1939 1939–1948 F. Roosevelt death
7 Walter A. Huxman KS 1887–1972 1939–1957 1957–1972 F. Roosevelt death
8 Alfred P. Murrah OK 1904–1975 1940–1970 1959–1970 1970–1975 F. Roosevelt death
9 John Coleman Pickett WY 1896–1983 1949–1966 1966–1983 Truman death
10 David Thomas Lewis UT 1912–1983 1956–1977 1970–1977 1977–1983 Eisenhower death
11 Jean Sala Breitenstein CO 1900–1986 1957–1970 1970–1986 Eisenhower death
12 Delmas Carl Hill KS 1906–1989 1961–1977 1977–1989 Kennedy death
13 Oliver Seth NM 1915–1996 1962–1984 1977–1984 1984–1996 Kennedy death
14 Joe Hickey WY 1911–1970 1966–1970 L. Johnson death
15 William Judson Holloway Jr. OK 1923–2014 1968–1992 1984–1991 1992–2014 L. Johnson death
16 Robert Hugh McWilliams Jr. CO 1916–2013 1970–1984 1984–2013 Nixon death
17 James Emmett Barrett WY 1922–2011 1971–1987 1987–2011 Nixon death
18 William Edward Doyle CO 1911–1986 1971–1984 1984–1986 Nixon death
19 Monroe G. McKay UT 1928–2020 1977–1993 1991–1993 1993–2020 Carter death
20 James Kenneth Logan KS 1929–2018 1977–1994 1994–1998 Carter retirement
24 Deanell Reece Tacha KS 1946–present 1985–2011 2001–2008 2011 Reagan retirement
29 Robert Harlan Henry OK 1953–present 1994–2010 2008–2010 Clinton resignation
35 Michael W. McConnell UT 1955–present 2002–2009 G.W. Bush resignation
37 Neil Gorsuch CO 1967–present 2006–2017 G.W. Bush elevation to Supreme Court

Chief judges[edit]

Chief Judge
Phillips 1948–1956
Bratton 1956–1959
Murrah 1959–1970
Lewis 1970–1977
Seth 1977–1984
Holloway, Jr. 1984–1991
McKay 1991–1993
Seymour 1994–2000
Tacha 2001–2008
Henry 2008–2010
Briscoe 2010–2015
Tymkovich 2015–2022
Holmes 2022–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 twelve 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Elizabeth Aguilera (November 20, 2006). "10th Circuit judge's oath a family affair". The Denver Post. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Establishment of the Tenth Judicial Circuit: "An Act To amend sections 116, 118, 126 of the Judicial Code, as amended, to divide the eighth judicial circuit of the United States, and to create a tenth judicial circuit." Federal Judiciary History. FJC.gov. Retrieved September 24, 2009.
  3. ^ "Tenth Circuit Act of 1929". Official website of the Federal Judicial Center. Archived from the original on September 26, 2006. Retrieved October 20, 2006.
  4. ^ Prior to January 8, 1996, Judge Porfilio was named John Porfilio Moore.
  5. ^ Lewis was appointed to the bench of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in 1921 by Warren G. Harding. 45 Stat. 1346 reassigned his seat to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
  6. ^ Cotteral was appointed to the bench of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in 1928 by Calvin Coolidge. 45 Stat. 1346 reassigned his seat to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
  7. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 45
  8. ^ 62 Stat. 871, 72 Stat. 497, 96 Stat. 51


  • "Standard Search". Federal Law Clerk Information System. Archived from the original on October 21, 2005. Retrieved June 16, 2005.
    • primary but incomplete source for the duty stations
  • "Instructions for Judicial Directory". Website of the University of Texas Law School. Archived from the original on November 11, 2005. Retrieved July 4, 2005.
    • secondary source for the duty stations
    • data is current to 2002
  • "U. S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit". Official website of the Federal Judicial Center. Archived from the original on January 1, 2005. Retrieved June 16, 2005.
    • source for the state, lifetime, term of active judgeship, term of chief judgeship, term of senior judgeship, appointer, termination reason, and seat information

External links[edit]