United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina

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United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina
Appeals to Fourth Circuit
Established June 4, 1872
Judges assigned 5
Chief Judge Frank DeArmon Whitney
U.S. Attorney R. Andrew Murray
Official court website

The United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina (in case citations, W.D.N.C.) is a Federal district court which covers the western third of North Carolina.

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


The court's jurisdiction comprises the following counties: Alexander, Anson, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Gaston, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Iredell, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Union, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey. It has jurisdiction over the cities of Asheville, Charlotte, Hickory, and Statesville.

The United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court.


The United States District Court for the District of North Carolina was established on June 4, 1790, by 1 Stat. 126.[1][2] On June 9, 1794 it was subdivided into three districts by 1 Stat. 395,[2] but on March 3, 1797, the three districts were abolished and the single District restored by 1 Stat. 517,[2] until April 29, 1802, when the state was again subdivided into three different districts by 2 Stat. 156.[1][2]

In both instances, these districts, unlike those with geographic designations that existed in other states, were titled by the names of the cities in which the courts sat. After the first division, they were styled the District of Edenton, the District of New Bern, and the District of Wilmington; after the second division, they were styled the District of Albemarle, the District of Cape Fear, and the District of Pamptico. However, in both instances, only one judge was authorized to serve all three districts, causing them to effectively operate as a single district.[2] The latter combination was occasionally referred to by the cumbersome title of the United States District Court for the Albemarle, Cape Fear & Pamptico Districts of North Carolina.

On June 4, 1872, North Carolina was re-divided into two Districts, Eastern and Western, by 17 Stat. 215.[2] The presiding judge of the District of North Carolina, George Washington Brooks, was then reassigned to preside over only the Eastern District, allowing President Ulysses S. Grant to appoint Robert P. Dick to be the first judge of the Western District of North Carolina. The Middle District was created from portions of the Eastern and Western Districts on March 2, 1927, by 44 Stat. 1339.[2]

Current judges[edit]

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
17 Chief Judge Frank DeArmon Whitney[3] Charlotte 1959 2006–present 2013–present G.W. Bush
16 District Judge Robert James Conrad Jr. Charlotte 1958 2005–present 2006–2013 G.W. Bush
18 District Judge Martin Karl Reidinger Asheville 1958 2007–present G.W. Bush
19 District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. Asheville 1951 2011–present Obama
20 District Judge vacant
12 Senior Judge Richard Lesley Voorhees Charlotte 1941 1988–2017 1991–1998 2017–present Reagan
13 Senior Judge Graham Calder Mullen Charlotte 1940 1990–2005 1998–2005 2005–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 Richard Lesley Voorhees Senior Status August 31, 2017

Former judges[edit]

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Dick, Robert P.Robert P. Dick NC 1823–1898 1872–1898 Grant, Grant retirement
2 Ewart, Hamilton G.Hamilton G. Ewart NC 1849–1918 1898–1899[4] McKinley, McKinley not confirmed
2.1 Ewart, Hamilton G.Hamilton G. Ewart NC 1849–1918 1899–1900[5] McKinley, McKinley not confirmed
3 Boyd, James EdmundJames Edmund Boyd NC 1845–1935 1900–1935[6] McKinley, McKinley death
4 Webb, Edwin Y.Edwin Y. Webb NC 1872–1955 1919–1948 1948–1955 Wilson, Wilson death
5 Henderson, David EzekielDavid Ezekiel Henderson NC 1879–1968 1948–1949[5] Truman, Truman resignation
6 Warlick, WilsonWilson Warlick NC 1892–1978 1949–1968 1961–1962 1968–1978 Truman, Truman death
7 Craven, Jr., James BraxtonJames Braxton Craven, Jr. NC 1918–1977 1961–1966 1962–1966 Kennedy, Kennedy appointment to 4th Cir.
8 Jones, Woodrow W.Woodrow W. Jones NC 1914–2002 1967–1985 1968–1984 1985–2002 Johnson, L.L. Johnson death
9 McMillan, James BryanJames Bryan McMillan NC 1916–1995 1968–1989 1989–1995 Johnson, L.L. Johnson death
10 Potter, Robert DanielRobert Daniel Potter NC 1923–2009 1981–1994 1984–1991 1994–2009 Reagan, Reagan death
11 Sentelle, David B.David B. Sentelle NC 1943–present 1985–1987 Reagan, Reagan appointment to D.C. Cir.
14 Thornburg, LacyLacy Thornburg NC 1929–present 1995–2009 Clinton, Clinton retirement
15 McKnight, Harold BrentHarold Brent McKnight NC 1952–2004 2003–2004 Bush, G.W.G.W. Bush death

Succession of seats[edit]

U.S. Attorneys for the Western District[edit]

The Western and Eastern districts were created in 1872. D. H. Starbuck, who was serving as U.S. Attorney for the entire state, continued in office by serving as Attorney for the Western District.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Asbury Dickens, A Synoptical Index to the Laws and Treaties of the United States of America (1852), p. 389.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g U.S. District Courts of North Carolina, Legislative history, Federal Judicial Center.
  3. ^ http://news.uscourts.gov/milestones?field_milestone_category_value=elevated
  4. ^ Recess appointment; the United States Senate later rejected the appointment.
  5. ^ a b Recess appointment; the United States Senate later rejected the appointment.
  6. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 15, 1900, confirmed by the United States Senate on January 9, 1901, and received commission on January 9, 1901.
  7. ^ http://www.justice.gov/usao/ncw/attorney/index.html

External links[edit]