United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
(5th Cir.)
LocationJohn Minor Wisdom U.S. Court of Appeals Building
Appeals from
EstablishedJune 16, 1891
Circuit JusticeSamuel Alito
Chief JudgePriscilla Richman

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (in case citations, 5th Cir.) is one of the 13 United States courts of appeals. It has appellate jurisdiction over the U.S. district courts in the following federal judicial districts:

The Fifth Circuit has 17 active judgeships, and is headquartered at the John Minor Wisdom United States Court of Appeals Building in New Orleans, Louisiana, with the clerk's office located at the F. Edward Hebert Federal Building in New Orleans.[1]

Originally, the Fifth Circuit also included the federal district courts in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. In 1981, the district courts for those states were transferred to the newly created U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

History of the court

The John Minor Wisdom U.S. Courthouse, home of the Fifth Circuit, New Orleans.

This court was created by the Evarts Act on June 16, 1891, which moved the circuit judges and appellate jurisdiction from the Circuit Courts of the Fifth Circuit to this court. At the time of its creation, the Fifth Circuit covered Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

On June 25, 1948, the Panama Canal Zone was added to the Fifth Circuit by 62 Stat. 870. The Fifth Circuit gained appellate jurisdiction over the United States District Court for the Canal Zone.

On October 1, 1981, under Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 96–452, the Fifth Circuit was split: Alabama, Georgia, and Florida were moved to the new Eleventh Circuit.

On March 31, 1982, the Fifth Circuit lost jurisdiction over the Panama Canal Zone, which was transferred to Panamanian control.

The Fifth Circuit Four

Starting in the late 1950s, judges Elbert Parr Tuttle (chief judge 1960–67), John Minor Wisdom, John R. Brown (chief judge 1967–79), and Richard T. Rives (chief judge 1959–60) became known as the "Fifth Circuit Four", or simply "The Four", for decisions crucial in advancing the civil rights of African Americans. In this, they were usually opposed by their fellow Fifth Circuit Judge, Benjamin F. Cameron of Mississippi, until his death in 1964.[2]

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans on August 29, 2005, devastating the city and slightly damaging the John Minor Wisdom Courthouse. All deadlines concerning filings were extended. The court temporarily relocated its administrative operations to Houston, and returned to normal operations in New Orleans in March 2007.[citation needed]

Current composition of the court

As of December 8, 2023:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
77 Chief Judge Priscilla Richman Austin, TX 1954 2005–present 2019–present G.W. Bush
63 Circuit Judge Edith Jones Houston, TX 1949 1985–present 2006–2012 Reagan
64 Circuit Judge Jerry Edwin Smith Houston, TX 1946 1987–present Reagan
71 Circuit Judge Carl E. Stewart Shreveport, LA 1950 1994–present 2012–2019 Clinton
78 Circuit Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod Houston, TX 1966 2007–present G.W. Bush
79 Circuit Judge Leslie H. Southwick Jackson, MS 1950 2007–present G.W. Bush
80 Circuit Judge Catharina Haynes Dallas, TX 1963 2008–present G.W. Bush
81 Circuit Judge James E. Graves Jr. Jackson, MS 1953 2011–present Obama
82 Circuit Judge Stephen A. Higginson New Orleans, LA 1961 2011–present Obama
84 Circuit Judge Don Willett Austin, TX 1966 2018–present Trump
85 Circuit Judge James C. Ho Dallas, TX 1973 2018–present Trump
86 Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan Baton Rouge, LA 1972 2018–present Trump
87 Circuit Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt New Orleans, LA 1960 2018–present Trump
88 Circuit Judge Andrew Oldham Austin, TX 1978 2018–present Trump
89 Circuit Judge Cory T. Wilson Jackson, MS 1970 2020–present Trump
90 Circuit Judge Dana Douglas New Orleans, LA 1975 2022–present Biden
91 Circuit Judge Irma Carrillo Ramirez Dallas, TX 1964 2023–present Biden
51 Senior Circuit Judge Carolyn Dineen King Houston, TX 1938 1979–2013 1999–2006 2013–present Carter
59 Senior Circuit Judge E. Grady Jolly Jackson, MS 1937 1982–2017 2017–present Reagan
60 Senior Circuit Judge Patrick Higginbotham San Antonio, TX 1938 1982–2006 2006–present Reagan
61 Senior Circuit Judge W. Eugene Davis New Orleans, LA 1936 1983–2016 2016–present Reagan
65 Senior Circuit Judge John M. Duhé Jr. inactive 1933 1988–1999 1999–present Reagan
66 Senior Circuit Judge Jacques L. Wiener Jr. New Orleans, LA 1934 1990–2010 2010–present G.H.W. Bush
67 Senior Circuit Judge Rhesa Barksdale Jackson, MS 1944 1990–2009 2009–present G.H.W. Bush
73 Senior Circuit Judge James L. Dennis New Orleans, LA 1936 1995–2022 2022–present Clinton
74 Senior Circuit Judge Edith Brown Clement New Orleans, LA 1948 2001–2018 2018–present G.W. Bush

List of former judges

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Don Albert Pardee LA 1837–1919 1891–1919 Garfield / Operation of law[3] death
2 Andrew Phelps McCormick TX 1832–1916 1892–1916 B. Harrison death
3 David Davie Shelby AL 1847–1914 1899–1914 McKinley death
4 Richard Wilde Walker Jr. AL 1857–1936 1914–1930 1930–1936 Wilson death
5 Robert Lynn Batts TX 1864–1935 1917–1919 Wilson resignation
6 Nathan Philemon Bryan FL 1872–1935 1920–1935 Wilson death
7 Alexander Campbell King GA 1856–1926 1920–1924 Wilson resignation
8 Rufus Edward Foster LA 1871–1942 1925–1942 Coolidge death
9 Samuel Hale Sibley GA 1873–1958 1931–1949 1949–1958 Hoover death
10 Joseph Chappell Hutcheson Jr. TX 1879–1973 1931–1964 1948–1959 1964–1973 Hoover death
11 Edwin R. Holmes MS 1878–1961 1936–1954 1954–1961 F. Roosevelt death
12 Leon Clarence McCord AL 1878–1952 1938–1951 1951–1952 F. Roosevelt death
13 Curtis L. Waller FL 1887–1950 1943–1950 F. Roosevelt death
14 Elmo Pearce Lee LA 1882–1949 1943–1949 F. Roosevelt death
15 Wayne G. Borah LA 1891–1966 1949–1956 1956–1966 Truman death
16 Robert Lee Russell GA 1900–1955 1949–1955 Truman death
17 Louie Willard Strum FL 1890–1954 1950–1954 Truman death
18 Richard Rives AL 1895–1982 1951–1966 1959–1960 1966–1981 Truman reassignment to 11th Cir.
19 Elbert Tuttle GA 1897–1996 1954–1968 1960–1967 1968–1981 Eisenhower reassignment to 11th Cir.
20 Benjamin Franklin Cameron MS 1890–1964 1955–1964 Eisenhower death
21 Warren Leroy Jones FL 1895–1993 1955–1966 1966–1981 Eisenhower reassignment to 11th Cir.
22 John Robert Brown TX 1909–1993 1955–1984 1967–1979 1984–1993 Eisenhower death
23 John Minor Wisdom LA 1905–1999 1957–1977 1977–1999 Eisenhower death
24 Griffin Bell GA 1918–2009 1961–1976[Note 1] Kennedy resignation
25 Walter Pettus Gewin AL 1908–1981 1961–1976[Note 1] 1976–1981 Kennedy death
26 Homer Thornberry TX 1909–1995 1965–1978 1978–1995 L. Johnson death
27 James P. Coleman MS 1914–1991 1965–1981 1979–1981 1981–1984 L. Johnson retirement
28 Robert A. Ainsworth Jr. LA 1910–1981 1966–1981 L. Johnson death
29 John Cooper Godbold AL 1920–2009 1966–1981 1981 L. Johnson reassignment to 11th Cir.
30 Irving Loeb Goldberg TX 1906–1995 1966–1980 1980–1995 L. Johnson death
31 David W. Dyer FL 1910–1998 1966–1976 1976–1981 L. Johnson reassignment to 11th Cir.
32 John Milton Bryan Simpson FL 1903–1987 1966–1975 1975–1981 L. Johnson reassignment to 11th Cir.
33 Claude Feemster Clayton MS 1909–1969 1967–1969 L. Johnson death
34 Lewis Render Morgan GA 1913–2001 1968–1978 1978–1981 L. Johnson reassignment to 11th Cir.
35 G. Harrold Carswell FL 1919–1992 1969–1970 Nixon resignation
36 Charles Clark MS 1925–2011 1969–1992 1981–1992 Nixon retirement
37 Joe McDonald Ingraham TX 1903–1990 1969–1973 1973–1990 Nixon death
38 Paul Hitch Roney FL 1921–2006 1970–1981 Nixon reassignment to 11th Cir.
39 Thomas Gibbs Gee TX 1925–1994 1973–1991 Nixon retirement
40 Gerald Bard Tjoflat FL 1929–present 1975–1981 Ford reassignment to 11th Cir.
41 James Clinkscales Hill GA 1924–2017 1976–1981 Ford reassignment to 11th Cir.
42 Peter T. Fay FL 1929–2021 1976–1981 Ford reassignment to 11th Cir.
43 Alvin Benjamin Rubin LA 1920–1991 1977–1989 1989–1991 Carter death
44 Robert Smith Vance AL 1931–1989 1977–1981 Carter reassignment to 11th Cir.
45 Phyllis A. Kravitch GA 1920–2017 1979–1981 Carter reassignment to 11th Cir.
46 Frank Minis Johnson AL 1918–1999 1979–1981 Carter reassignment to 11th Cir.
47 R. Lanier Anderson III GA 1936–present 1979–1981 Carter reassignment to 11th Cir.
48 Reynaldo Guerra Garza TX 1915–2004 1979–1982 1982–2004 Carter death
49 Joseph W. Hatchett FL 1932–2021 1979–1981 Carter reassignment to 11th Cir.
50 Albert John Henderson GA 1920–1999 1979–1981 Carter reassignment to 11th Cir.
52 Henry Anthony Politz LA 1932–2002 1979–1999 1992–1999 1999–2002 Carter death
53 Thomas Morrow Reavley TX 1921–2020 1979–1990 1990–2020 Carter death
54 Samuel D. Johnson Jr. TX 1920–2002 1979–1991 1991–2002 Carter death
55 Albert Tate Jr. LA 1920–1986 1979–1986 Carter death
56 Thomas Alonzo Clark FL 1920–2005 1979–1981 Carter reassignment to 11th Cir.
57 Jerre Stockton Williams TX 1916–1993 1980–1990 1990–1993 Carter death
58 William Lockhart Garwood TX 1931–2011 1981–1997 1997–2011 Reagan death
62 Robert Madden Hill TX 1928–1987 1984–1987 Reagan death
68 Emilio M. Garza TX 1947–present 1991–2012 2012–2015 G.H.W. Bush retirement
69 Harold R. DeMoss Jr. TX 1930–2020 1991–2007 2007–2015 G.H.W. Bush retirement
70 Fortunato Benavides TX 1947–2023 1994–2012 2012–2023 Clinton death
72 Robert Manley Parker TX 1937–2020 1994–2002 Clinton retirement
75 Edward C. Prado TX 1947–present 2003–2018 G.W. Bush retirement
76 Charles W. Pickering MS 1937–present 2004[Note 2] G.W. Bush retirement
83 Gregg Costa TX 1972–present 2014–2022 Obama resignation
  1. ^ a b Recess appointment, confirmed by the United States Senate at a later date.
  2. ^ Recess appointment, never confirmed or rejected by the United States Senate.

Chief judges

Chief Judge
Hutcheson, Jr. 1948–1959
Rives 1959–1960
Tuttle 1960–1967
Brown 1967–1979
Coleman 1979–1981
Godbold 1981
C. Clark 1981–1992
Politz 1992–1999
C. King 1999–2006
Jones 2006–2012
Stewart 2012–2019
Richman 2019–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.[4]

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.[5]

Succession of seats

The court has had 29 seats for active judges. Twelve of these seats were reassigned to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, leaving a seventeen-seat court. The seats are 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


  1. ^ "Practitioner's Guide to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-13. Retrieved 2011-06-26.
  2. ^ "That Fascinating and Frenetic Fifth", Time Magazine, 1964-12-04.
  3. ^ Pardee was appointed as a circuit judge for the Fifth Circuit in 1881 by James A. Garfield. The Judiciary Act of 1891 reassigned his seat to what is now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
  4. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 45
  5. ^ 62 Stat. 871, 72 Stat. 497, 96 Stat. 51