United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan

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United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan
(W.D. Mich.)
Map of US District Court for the Western District of Michigan.svg
Location Grand Rapids, Michigan
Appeals to Sixth Circuit
Established February 24, 1863
Judges assigned 4
Chief Judge Robert James Jonker

The United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan (in case citations, W.D. Mich.) is the Federal district court with jurisdiction over of the western portion of the state of Michigan, including the entire Upper Peninsula.

Appeals from the Western District of Michigan are taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit).

The current Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Michigan is Andrew B. Birge, who was appointed on January 20, 2017.


Old Federal Building in Sault Ste. Marie served as a courthouse of the Western District of Michigan, with the court meeting there from 1912 until 1941.

The United States District Court for the District of Michigan was established on July 1, 1836, by 5 Stat. 61, with a single judgeship.[1] The district court was not assigned to a judicial circuit, but was granted the same jurisdiction as United States circuit courts, except in appeals and writs of error, which were the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Due to the so-called "Toledo War", a boundary dispute with Ohio, Michigan did not become a state of the Union until January 26, 1837. On March 3, 1837, Congress passed an act that repealed the circuit court jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court for the District of Michigan, assigned the District of Michigan to the Seventh Circuit, and established a U.S. circuit court for the district, 5 Stat. 176.[1]

On July 15, 1862, Congress reorganized the circuits and assigned Michigan to the Eighth Circuit by 12 Stat. 576,[1] and on January 28, 1863, the Congress again reorganized Seventh and Eight Circuits and assigned Michigan to the Seventh Circuit, by 12 Stat. 637.[1] On February 24, 1863, Congress divided the District of Michigan into the Eastern and the Western Districts, with one judgeship authorized for each district, by 12 Stat. 660.[1] The Western District was later further divided into a Southern Division and a Northern Division.

Court was held at the Old Federal Building in Sault Ste. Marie from 1912 until 1941. While the law allows court to be held in Sault Ste. Marie,[2] it no longer is.[3] [4]


The District Court is based in Grand Rapids, courthouses also located in Kalamazoo, Lansing, and Marquette in the Upper Peninsula. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has appellate jurisdiction over the court.


The Western District comprises two divisions.[2]

The Northern Division[edit]

The Northern Division comprises the counties of Alger, Baraga, Chippewa, Delta, Dickinson, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw, Luce, Mackinac, Marquette, Menominee, Ontonagon, and Schoolcraft.[2]

Court for the Northern Division can be held in Marquette and Sault Sainte Marie.[2]

The Southern Division[edit]

The Southern Division comprises the counties of Allegan, Antrim, Barry, Benzie, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Charlevoix, Clinton, Eaton, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Hillsdale, Ingham, Ionia, Kalamazoo, Kalkaska, Kent, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mason, Mecosta, Missaukee, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola, Ottawa, Saint Joseph, Van Buren, and Wexford.[2]

Court for the Southern Division can be held in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, and Traverse City.[2]

Notable cases[edit]

Some of the notable cases that have come before the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan include:

Current judges[edit]

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
20 Chief Judge Robert James Jonker Grand Rapids 1960 2007–present 2015–present G.W. Bush
19 District Judge Paul Lewis Maloney Kalamazoo 1949 2007–present 2008–2015 G.W. Bush
21 District Judge Janet T. Neff Grand Rapids 1945 2007–present G.W. Bush
22 District Judge vacant
16 Senior Judge Robert Holmes Bell Grand Rapids 1944 1987–2017 2001–2008 2017–present Reagan
18 Senior Judge Gordon Jay Quist Grand Rapids 1937 1992–2006 2006–present G.H.W. Bush

Vacancies and pending nominations[edit]

Seat Seat last held by Vacancy reason Date of vacancy Nominee Date of nomination
3 Robert Holmes Bell Senior Status January 31, 2017

Former judges[edit]

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Withey, Solomon LewisSolomon Lewis Withey MI 1820–1886 1863–1886 Lincoln, Lincoln death
2 Severens, Henry FranklinHenry Franklin Severens MI 1835–1923 1886–1900 Cleveland, Cleveland appointment to 6th Cir.
3 Wanty, George P.George P. Wanty MI 1856–1906 1900–1906 McKinley, McKinley death
4 Knappen, Loyal EdwinLoyal Edwin Knappen MI 1854–1930 1906–1910 Roosevelt, T.T. Roosevelt appointment to 6th Cir.
5 Denison, Arthur CarterArthur Carter Denison MI 1861–1942 1910–1911 Taft, Taft appointment to 6th Cir.
6 Sessions, Clarence W.Clarence W. Sessions MI 1859–1931 1911–1931 Taft, Taft death
7 Raymond, Fred MortonFred Morton Raymond MI 1876–1946 1925–1946[Note 1] Coolidge, Coolidge death
8 Starr, Raymond WesleyRaymond Wesley Starr MI 1888–1968 1946–1961 1954–1961 1961–1968 Truman, Truman death
9 Kent, W. WallaceW. Wallace Kent MI 1916–1973 1954–1971 1961–1971 Eisenhower, Eisenhower appointment to 6th Cir.
10 Fox, Noel PeterNoel Peter Fox MI 1910–1987 1962–1979 1971–1979 1979–1987 Kennedy, Kennedy death
11 Engel, Jr., Albert J.Albert J. Engel, Jr. MI 1924–2013 1970–1974 Nixon, Nixon appointment to 6th Cir.
12 Miles, Wendell AlversonWendell Alverson Miles MI 1916–2013 1974–1986 1979–1986 1986–2013 Nixon, Nixon death
13 Hillman, Douglas WoodruffDouglas Woodruff Hillman MI 1922–2007 1979–1991 1986–1991 1991–2002 Carter, Carter retirement
14 Gibson, Benjamin F.Benjamin F. Gibson MI 1931–present 1979–1996 1991–1995 1996–1999 Carter, Carter retirement
15 Enslen, Richard AlanRichard Alan Enslen MI 1931–2015 1979–2005 1995–2001 2005–2015 Carter, Carter death
17 McKeague, DavidDavid McKeague MI 1946–present 1992–2005 Bush, G.H.W.G.H.W. Bush appointment to 6th Cir.
  1. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 8, 1925, confirmed by the United States Senate on December 18, 1925, and received commission on December 18, 1925.

Succession of seats[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e U.S. District Courts of Michigan, Legislative history, Federal Judicial Center.
  2. ^ a b c d e f 28 U.S.C. § 102
  3. ^ "United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan". Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  4. ^ Official federal c ourthouse for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Photo by Greg Peterson

External links[edit]