United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana

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United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana
(W.D. La.)
More locations
Appeals toFifth Circuit
EstablishedMarch 3, 1881
Chief JudgeS. Maurice Hicks Jr.
Officers of the court
U.S. AttorneyAlexander C. Van Hook (acting)

The United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana (in case citations, W.D. La.) is a United States federal court with jurisdiction over approximately two thirds of the state of Louisiana, with courts in Alexandria, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, and Shreveport. These cities comprise the Western District of Louisiana.

Appeals from the Western District of Louisiana 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).


The parishes that fall under the jurisdiction of this district court are:


On March 26, 1804, Congress organized the Territory of Orleans and created the United States District Court for the District of Orleans - the only time Congress provided a territory with a district court equal in its authority and jurisdiction to those of the states.[1] The United States District Court for the District of Louisiana was established on April 8, 1812, by 2 Stat. 701,[1][2] several weeks before Louisiana was formally admitted as a state of the union. The District was thereafter subdivided and reformed several times. It was first subdivided into Eastern and Western Districts on March 3, 1823, by 3 Stat. 774.[1][2]

On February 13, 1845, Louisiana was reorganized into a single District with one judgeship, by 5 Stat. 722,[1] but was again divided into Eastern and the Western Districts on March 3, 1849, by 9 Stat. 401.[1] Congress again abolished the Western District of Louisiana and reorganized Louisiana as a single judicial district on July 27, 1866, by 14 Stat. 300.[1] On March 3, 1881, by 21 Stat. 507, Louisiana was for a third time divided into Eastern and the Western Districts, with one judgeship authorized for each.[1] The Middle District was formed from portions of those two Districts on December 18, 1971, by 85 Stat. 741.[1]

Current judges[edit]

As of July 31, 2020:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
29 Chief Judge S. Maurice Hicks Jr. Shreveport 1952 2003–present 2017–present G.W. Bush
30 District Judge Elizabeth Erny Foote Shreveport 1953 2010–present Obama
31 District Judge Terry A. Doughty Monroe 1959 2018–present Trump
32 District Judge Robert R. Summerhays Lafayette 1965 2018–present Trump
33 District Judge Michael J. Juneau Lafayette 1962 2018–present Trump
34 District Judge James D. Cain Jr. Lake Charles 1964 2019–present Trump
35 District Judge David C. Joseph Lafayette 1977 2020–present Trump
21 Senior Judge Donald Ellsworth Walter Shreveport 1936 1985–2001 2001–present Reagan
23 Senior Judge James Travis Trimble Jr. Alexandria 1932 1991–2002 2002–present G.H.W. Bush
24 Senior Judge Rebecca F. Doherty inactive 1952 1991–2017 2017–present G.H.W. Bush
25 Senior Judge Tucker L. Melancon Lafayette 1946 1994–2009 2009–present Clinton
26 Senior Judge Robert G. James Monroe 1946 1998–2016 2009–2012 2016–present Clinton
27 Senior Judge Dee D. Drell Alexandria 1947 2003–2017 2012–2017 2017–present G.W. Bush

Vacancies and pending nominations[edit]

Seat Prior judge's duty station Seat last held by Vacancy reason Date of vacancy Nominee Date of nomination
3 Shreveport Elizabeth Erny Foote Senior status January 21, 2022[3]

Former judges[edit]

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 John Dick LA 1788–1824 1823–1824[Note 1][Note 2] Monroe/Operation of law death
2 Thomas B. Robertson LA 1779–1828 1824–1828[Note 2] Monroe death
3 Samuel Hadden Harper LA 1783–1837 1829–1837[Note 2] Jackson death
4 Philip Kissick Lawrence LA c.1793–1841 1837–1841[Note 2] Van Buren death
5 Theodore Howard McCaleb LA 1810–1864 1841–1845[Note 2] Tyler reassignment to D. La.
6 Henry Boyce LA 1797–1873 1849–1861[Note 3] Taylor[Note 4]
Fillmore[Note 5]
7 Alexander Boarman LA 1839–1916 1881–1916 Garfield death
8 George W. Jack LA 1875–1924 1917–1924 Wilson death
9 Benjamin C. Dawkins Sr. LA 1881–1966 1924–1953 1948–1953 1953–1966 Coolidge death
10 Gaston Louis Noel Porterie LA 1885–1953 1939–1953 F. Roosevelt death
11 Benjamin C. Dawkins Jr. LA 1911–1984 1953–1973 1953–1973 1973–1984 Eisenhower death
12 Edwin F. Hunter LA 1911–2002 1953–1976[Note 6] 1973–1976 1976–2002 Eisenhower death
13 Richard Johnson Putnam LA 1913–2002 1961–1975 1975–2002 Kennedy death
14 Nauman Scott LA 1916–2001 1970–1984 1976–1984 1984–2001 Nixon death
15 Tom Stagg LA 1923–2015 1974–1992 1984–1991 1992–2015 Nixon death
16 W. Eugene Davis LA 1936–present 1976–1983 Ford elevation to 5th Cir.
17 Earl Ernest Veron LA 1922–1990 1977–1990 1990 Carter death
18 John Malach Shaw LA 1931–1999 1979–1996 1991–1996 1996–1999 Carter death
19 John M. Duhé Jr. LA 1933–present 1984–1988 Reagan elevation to 5th Cir.
20 F. A. Little Jr. LA 1936–present 1984–2002 1996–2002 2002–2006 Reagan retirement
22 Richard T. Haik LA 1950–present 1991–2015 2002–2009 2015–2016 G.H.W. Bush retirement
28 Patricia Head Minaldi LA 1959–2018 2003–2017 2017–2018 G.W. Bush death
  1. ^ Reassigned from the District of Louisiana.
  2. ^ a b c d e Jointly appointed to both the Eastern and the Western Districts of Louisiana.
  3. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 21, 1849, confirmed by the United States Senate on August 2, 1850, and received commission the same day.
  4. ^ Judge Boyce was given a recess appointment by President Taylor.
  5. ^ Judge Boyce was nominated by President Taylor but was appointed to the Court by (i.e., received his commission from) President Fillmore.
  6. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on January 11, 1954, confirmed by the Senate on February 9, 1954, and received commission on February 10, 1954.

Chief judges[edit]

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]

U.S. attorneys[edit]

The complete list of United States attorneys in Louisiana, including those who served during territorial status:

Name Term Started Term Ended Presidents served under
James Brown 1805 1808 Thomas Jefferson
Philip Grymes 1808 1810 Thomas Jefferson and James Madison
Tully Robinson 1810 1811 James Madison
John Randolph Grymes 1811 1814 James Madison
Tully Robinson(2) 1814 1814 James Madison
John Dick 1814 1821 James Madison and James Monroe
John W. Smith 1821 1823 James Monroe
John Brownson 1823 1830 James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Jackson
Benjamin F. Linton 1830 1841 Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren
Henderson Taylor 1841 1842 William Henry Harrison and John Tyler
Caleb L. Swayze 1842 1849 John Tyler and James K. Polk
Henry Boyce 1849 1850 Zachary Taylor
Lawrence P. Crain 1850 1853 Millard Fillmore
Joseph H. Kilpatrick 1853 1854 Franklin Pierce
Peter Alexander 1854 1856 Franklin Pierce
Claiborne C. Briscoe 1856 1856 Franklin Pierce
Floyd Walton 1856 1860 Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan
Leon D. Marks 1860 1860 James Buchanan
James R. Beckwith 1870 1870 Ulysses S. Grant
H. B. Talliaferro 1881 1881 James A. Garfield
Milton C. Elstner 1881 1885 Chester A. Arthur
Montfort S. Jones 1885 1889 Grover Cleveland
Milton C. Elstner(2) 1889 1893 Benjamin Harrison
Charles W. Seals 1893 1898 Grover Cleveland and William McKinley
Milton C. Elstner(3) 1898 1910 William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft
Edward H. Randolph 1910 1913 William Howard Taft
George W. Jack 1913 1917 Woodrow Wilson
Robert A. Hunter 1917 1917 Woodrow Wilson
Joseph Moore 1917 1921 Woodrow Wilson
Yandell Boatner 1921 1921 Woodrow Wilson and Warren G. Harding
Hugh C. Fisher 1921 1922 Warren G. Harding
Philip H. Mecom 1922 1935 Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt
Benjamin F. Roberts 1935 1937 Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harvey Fields 1937 1941 Franklin D. Roosevelt
Malcolm Lafargue 1941 1950 Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman
Joseph J. Fleniken 1950 1950 Harry S. Truman
Harvey Locke Carey 1950 1950 Harry S. Truman
William J. Fleniken 1950 1953 Harry S. Truman
Thomas Wilson 1953 1962 Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy
Edward L. Shaheen 1962 1969 John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson
Donald Ellsworth Walter 1969 1977 Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford
Edward L. Shaheen(2) 1977 1979 Jimmy Carter
J. Ransdell Keene 1979 1981 Jimmy Carter
Joseph S. Cage Jr. 1981 1993 Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush
Michael D. Skinner 1993 2000 Bill Clinton
William J. Flanagan 2000 2001 Bill Clinton and George W. Bush
Donald W. Washington 2001 2010 George W. Bush and Barack Obama
William J. Flanagan(2) 2010 2010 Barack Obama
Stephanie A. Finley 2010 2017 Barack Obama and Donald Trump
Alexander C. Van Hook 2017 2018 Donald Trump
David C. Joseph 2018 2020 Donald Trump
Alexander C. Van Hook(2) 2020 present Donald Trump

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h U.S. District Courts of Louisiana, Legislative history, Federal Judicial Center.
  2. ^ a b Asbury Dickens, A Synoptical Index to the Laws and Treaties of the United States of America (1852), p. 392.
  3. ^ Future Judicial Vacancies

External links[edit]