United States District Court for the District of Wyoming
(D. Wyo.)
More locations
Appeals toTenth Circuit
EstablishedJuly 10, 1890
Chief JudgeScott W. Skavdahl
Officers of the court
U.S. AttorneyNicholas Vassallo (acting)
U.S. MarshalRandall P. Huff

The United States District Court for the District of Wyoming (in case citations, D. Wyo.) is the federal district court whose jurisdiction comprises the state of Wyoming and those portions of Yellowstone National Park situated in Montana and Idaho;[1] it is the only federal court district that includes portions of more than one state, creating a possible "Zone of Death" where it would be difficult to prosecute crimes.[a] The court has locations in Cheyenne and Casper.

Appeals from this court are heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit).

The United States Attorney's Office for the District of Wyoming represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. As of June 29, 2022 the acting United States attorney is Nicholas Vassallo.[3]

Current judges

As of March 12, 2024:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
8 Chief Judge Scott W. Skavdahl Casper 1966 2011–present 2018–present Obama
5 District Judge Alan Bond Johnson Cheyenne 1939 1985–present 1992–1999 Reagan
9 District Judge Kelly H. Rankin Cheyenne 1967 2024–present Biden
7 Senior Judge Nancy D. Freudenthal Cheyenne 1954 2010–2022 2011–2018 2022–present Obama

Former judges

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 John Alden Riner WY 1850–1923 1890–1921 1921–1923 B. Harrison death
2 Thomas Blake Kennedy WY 1874–1957 1921–1955 1955–1957 Harding death
3 Ewing Thomas Kerr WY 1900–1992 1955–1975[Note 1] 1975–1992 Eisenhower death
4 Clarence Addison Brimmer Jr. WY 1922–2014 1975–2006 1986–1992 2006–2014 Ford death
6 William F. Downes WY 1946–present 1994–2011 1999–2011 Clinton retirement
  1. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on January 12, 1956, confirmed by the United States Senate on March 1, 1956, and received commission on March 2, 1956

Chief judges

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.

Zone of death

Law professor Brian C. Kalt has argued that it may be impossible to impanel a jury in compliance with the Vicinage Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution for a crime committed solely in the Idaho portion of Yellowstone National Park (and that it would be difficult to do so for a crime committed solely in the Montana portion).[4] This has been referred to as the Zone of Death.[5][6]

Succession of seats

United States attorneys for the District of Wyoming

U.S. attorneys for Wyoming including the Wyoming Territory:[7]

Name Term started Term ended Presidents served under
Joseph M. Carey 1869 1871 Ulysses S. Grant
John James Jenkins 1876 1880 Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes
Anthony C. Campbell 1885 1890 Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison
Gibson Clark 1894 1898 Grover Cleveland and William McKinley
Benjamin M. Ausherman 1898 1907 William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt
Timothy F. Burke 1907 1911 Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft
Hillard S. Ridgely 1911 1914 William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson
Charles L. Rigdon 1914 1921 Woodrow Wilson
Albert D. Walton 1921 1933 Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover
Carl L. Sackett 1933 1949 Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman
John Coleman Pickett 1949 1949 Harry Truman
John J. Hickey 1949 1953 Harry Truman
John F. Raper 1953 1961 Dwight D. Eisenhower
Robert N. Chaffin 1961 1969 John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard V. Thomas 1969 1974 Richard Nixon
Clarence Addison Brimmer Jr. 1974 1975 Gerald Ford
James P. Castberg 1975 1977 Gerald Ford
Toshiro Suyematsu 1977 1977 Gerald Ford
Charles E. Graves 1977 1981 Jimmy Carter
Toshiro Suyematsu 1981 1981 Jimmy Carter
Richard A. Stacy 1981 1994 Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton
Dave Freudenthal 1994 2001 Bill Clinton and George W. Bush
Matt Mead 2001 2007 George W. Bush
John R. Green 2007 2008 George W. Bush
Kelly H. Rankin 2008 2009 George W. Bush and Barack Obama
Christopher A. Crofts 2010 2017 Barack Obama
Mark Klaassen 2017 2021 Donald Trump and Joe Biden
L. Robert Murray 2021 2022 Joe Biden
Nicholas Vassallo[8] 2022 Present Joe Biden

See also


  1. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 131.
  2. ^ https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-1124T GAO (U.S. Government Accountability Office. AMERICAN SAMOA: Issues Associated with Some Federal Court Options. September 18, 2008. Retrieved September 7, 2019.
  3. ^ "UNITED STATES ATTORNEY BOB MURRAY ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT" (Press release). U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Wyoming. June 29, 2022. Retrieved June 30, 2022.
  4. ^ Brian C. Kalt, The Perfect Crime, 93 Geo. L.J. 675 (2005).
  5. ^ Kerry, Wolfe. "Yellowstone's Zone of Death". Atlas Obscura.
  6. ^ Therriault, Ednor (December 2018). Myths and Legends of Yellowstone. Bowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1493032150. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  7. ^ "About The District". www.justice.gov. 2015-07-14. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  8. ^ "District of Wyoming | UNITED STATES ATTORNEY BOB MURRAY ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT | United States Department of Justice". www.justice.gov. 2022-06-29. Retrieved 2024-04-04.


  1. ^ Two other federal district courts do hold jurisdiction over territory outside of their state but within a US territory instead of another state: the District Court of Hawaii holds jurisdiction within the state of Hawaii and the United States Minor Outlying Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Additionally, the US territory of American Samoa has no federal district court or territorial court, and federal cases are heard by either American Samoa's local High Court, the District Court of Hawaii, or District Court for DC.[2]

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