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United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts

Coordinates: 42°21′14″N 71°02′49″W / 42.354°N 71.047°W / 42.354; -71.047
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
(D. Mass.)
LocationJohn Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse
More locations
Appeals toFirst Circuit
EstablishedSeptember 24, 1789
Chief JudgeF. Dennis Saylor IV
Officers of the court
U.S. AttorneyJoshua S. Levy (acting)
U.S. MarshalBrian A. Kyes

The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts (in case citations, D. Mass.) is the federal district court whose territorial jurisdiction is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, United States.[1] The first court session was held in Boston in 1789. The second term was held in Salem in 1790 and court session locations alternated between the two cities until 1813. That year, Boston became the court's permanent home. A western division was opened in Springfield in 1979 and a central division was opened in Worcester in 1987. The court's main building is the John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse on Fan Pier in South Boston.

Appeals from the District of Massachusetts are heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, also located in the Moakley courthouse (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit).


The District of Massachusetts has three court divisions:

The Eastern Division, covering Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Essex, Middlesex, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth, and Suffolk counties. Cases filed in the Eastern Division are heard in Boston.

The Central Division, covering Worcester county. Cases filed in the Central Division are heard in Worcester.

The Western Division, covering Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties. Cases filed in the Western Division are heard in Springfield.

U.S. Attorney's Office[edit]

The United States Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. As of May 19, 2023 the acting U.S. attorney is Joshua S. Levy.[2]

Federal Public Defender's Office[edit]

The Federal Public Defender's Office represents individuals who cannot afford to hire a lawyer in federal criminal cases and related matters. The office is assigned to cases by the district courts in three districts (New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts), and by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.[3]

Current judges[edit]

As of November 13, 2023:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
42 Chief Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV Boston 1955 2004–present 2020–present G.W. Bush
35 District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton Boston 1938 1992–present G.H.W. Bush
37 District Judge Patti B. Saris Boston 1951 1993–present 2013–2019 Clinton
38 District Judge Richard G. Stearns Boston 1944 1993–present Clinton
43 District Judge Denise J. Casper Boston 1968 2010–present Obama
45 District Judge Indira Talwani Boston 1960 2014–present Obama
46 District Judge Mark G. Mastroianni Springfield 1964 2014–present Obama
47 District Judge Leo T. Sorokin Boston 1961 2014–present Obama
48 District Judge Allison D. Burroughs Boston 1961 2014–present Obama
49 District Judge Angel Kelley Boston 1967 2021–present Biden
50 District Judge Margaret R. Guzman Worcester 1960 2023–present Biden
51 District Judge Myong J. Joun Boston 1971 2023–present Biden
52 District Judge Julia Kobick Boston 1983 2023–present Biden
30 Senior Judge Rya W. Zobel Boston 1931 1979–2014 2014–present Carter
31 Senior Judge William G. Young Boston 1940 1985–2021 1999–2005 2021–present Reagan
32 Senior Judge Mark L. Wolf Boston 1946 1985–2013 2006–2012 2013–present Reagan
33 Senior Judge Douglas P. Woodlock Boston 1947 1986–2015 2015–present Reagan
34 Senior Judge Edward F. Harrington Boston 1933 1988–2001 2001–present Reagan
40 Senior Judge Michael Ponsor Springfield 1946 1994–2011 2011–present Clinton
41 Senior Judge George A. O'Toole Jr. Boston 1947 1995–2018 2018–present Clinton
44 Senior Judge Timothy S. Hillman Worcester 1948 2012–2022 2022–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
5 Boston Patti B. Saris Senior status TBD[4] Brian E. Murphy March 21, 2024

Former judges[edit]

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 John Lowell MA 1743–1802 1789–1801 Washington elevation to 1st Cir.
2 John Davis MA 1761–1847 1801–1841 J. Adams resignation
3 Peleg Sprague MA 1793–1880 1841–1865 Tyler resignation
4 John Lowell MA 1824–1897 1865–1879 Lincoln elevation to 1st Cir.
5 Thomas Leverett Nelson MA 1827–1897 1879–1897 Hayes death
6 Francis Cabot Lowell MA 1855–1911 1898–1905 McKinley elevation to 1st Cir.
7 Frederic Dodge MA 1847–1927 1905–1912 T. Roosevelt elevation to 1st Cir.
8 James Madison Morton Jr. MA 1869–1940 1912–1932 Taft elevation to 1st Cir.
9 Elisha Hume Brewster MA 1871–1946 1922–1941 1941–1946 Harding death
10 James Arnold Lowell MA 1869–1933 1922–1933 Harding death
11 Hugh Dean McLellan MA 1876–1953 1932–1941 Hoover resignation
12 George Clinton Sweeney MA 1895–1966 1935–1966 1948–1965 1966 F. Roosevelt death
13 Francis Ford MA 1882–1975 1938–1972 1972–1975 F. Roosevelt death
14 Arthur Daniel Healey MA 1889–1948 1941–1948 F. Roosevelt death
15 Charles Edward Wyzanski Jr. MA 1906–1986 1941–1971 1965–1971 1971–1986 F. Roosevelt death
16 William T. McCarthy MA 1885–1964 1949–1960 1960–1964 Truman death
17 Bailey Aldrich MA 1907–2002 1954–1959 Eisenhower elevation to 1st Cir.
18 Anthony Julian MA 1902–1984 1959–1972 1971–1972 1972–1984 Eisenhower death
19 Andrew A. Caffrey MA 1920–1993 1960–1986[Note 1] 1972–1986 1986–1993 Eisenhower[Note 2]
Kennedy[Note 3]
20 W. Arthur Garrity Jr. MA 1920–1999 1966–1985 1985–1999 L. Johnson death
21 Frank Jerome Murray MA 1904–1995 1967–1977 1977–1995 L. Johnson death
22 Levin H. Campbell MA 1927–present 1971–1972 Nixon elevation to 1st Cir.
23 Frank Harlan Freedman MA 1924–2003 1972–1992 1986–1992 1992–2003 Nixon death
24 Joseph L. Tauro MA 1931–2018 1972–2013 1992–1999 2013–2018 Nixon death
25 Walter Jay Skinner MA 1927–2005 1973–1992 1992–2005 Nixon death
26 A. David Mazzone MA 1928–2004 1978–1993 1993–2004 Carter death
27 Robert Keeton MA 1919–2007 1979–2003 2003–2006 Carter retirement
28 John J. McNaught MA 1921–1994 1979–1991 Carter retirement
29 David Sutherland Nelson MA 1933–1998 1979–1991 1991–1998 Carter death
36 Reginald C. Lindsay MA 1945–2009 1993–2009 Clinton death
39 Nancy Gertner MA 1946–present 1994–2011 2011 Clinton retirement
  1. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on January 10, 1961, confirmed by the United States Senate on August 9, 1961, and received commission on August 16, 1961
  2. ^ Judge Caffrey was given a recess appointment by President Eisenhower.
  3. ^ Judge Caffrey was nominated by President Eisenhower but was appointed to the Court by (i.e., received his commission from) President Kennedy.

Chief judges[edit]

Chief Judge
Sweeney 1948–1965
Wyzanski 1965–1971
Julian 1971–1972
Caffrey 1972–1986
Freedman 1986–1992
Tauro 1992–1999
Young 1999–2005
Wolf 2005–2012
Saris 2013–2019
Saylor 2020–present

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[edit]

List of U.S. attorneys[edit]

List of U.S. marshals[edit]

Notable cases[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 101.
  2. ^ "United States Attorney". www.justice.gov. January 10, 2022. Retrieved May 22, 2023.
  3. ^ "About us". bostondefender.org. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
  4. ^ "U.S. District Court Judge Patti B. Saris has advised President Biden that she intends to retire from regular active service as a United States District Court Judge upon the appointment of her successor" (PDF). mad.courts.gov (Press release). November 22, 2023. Retrieved November 23, 2023.

External links[edit]

42°21′14″N 71°02′49″W / 42.354°N 71.047°W / 42.354; -71.047