United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky
(E.D. Ky.)
LocationUnited States Post Office and Courthouse
More locations
Appeals toSixth Circuit
EstablishedFebruary 12, 1901
Chief JudgeDanny C. Reeves
Officers of the court
U.S. AttorneyCarlton S. Shier, IV
U.S. Marshalvacant

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky (in case citations, E.D. Ky.) is the Federal district court whose jurisdiction comprises approximately the Eastern half of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati, Ohio maintains appellate jurisdiction for the district (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit).


The Eastern District of Kentucky encompasses the following counties: Anderson, Bath, Bell, Boone, Bourbon, Boyd, Boyle, Bracken, Breathitt, Campbell, Carroll, Carter, Clark, Clay, Elliott, Estill, Fayette, Fleming, Floyd, Franklin, Gallatin, Garrard, Grant, Greenup, Harlan, Harrison, Henry, Jackson, Jessamine, Johnson, Kenton, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lewis, Lincoln, McCreary, Madison, Magoffin, Martin, Mason, Menifee, Mercer, Montgomery, Morgan, Nicholas, Owen, Owsley, Pendleton, Perry, Pike, Powell, Pulaski, Robertson, Rockcastle, Rowan, Scott, Shelby, Trimble, Wayne, Whitley, Wolfe, and Woodford.


The federal courthouse at Covington, Kentucky
The federal courthouse at Covington, Kentucky

The United States District Court for the District of Kentucky was one of the original 13 courts established by the Judiciary Act of 1789, 1 Stat. 73, on September 24, 1789.[1][2] At the time, Kentucky was not yet a state, but was within the territory of the state of Virginia. The District was unchanged when Kentucky became a state on June 1, 1792. On February 13, 1801, the Judiciary Act of 1801, 2 Stat. 89, abolished the U.S. district court in Kentucky,[2] but the repeal of this Act restored the District on March 8, 1802, 2 Stat. 132.[2] The District was subdivided into Eastern and Western Districts on February 12, 1901, by 31 Stat. 781.[2]

Meeting places

The court is based in Lexington and also holds sessions in Federal Courthouses in Ashland, Covington, Frankfort, London and Pikeville. The court also meets in Richmond and Jackson. From 1911 to 1985, the court held sessions in downtown Catlettsburg at the Federal Courthouse and Post Office building which still stands on the corner of 25th and Broadway. By 1980, the Eastern District had long outgrown the historic Catlettsburg facility and it was decided that a new facility should be constructed. City officials in neighboring Ashland requested that the new facility be located there instead of in Catlettsburg. They argued that Ashland, by being a larger city, was a superior choice to the much smaller Catlettsburg with more services and amenities such as lodging for overnight guests and better restaurant options. As a result, the Carl D. Perkins Federal Building and United States Courthouse was built in Ashland on U.S. Routes 23 and 60 (Greenup Avenue).

U.S. Attorney

The United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. The United States attorney is Carlton S. Shier, IV, since March 21, 2022.[3]

Current judges

As of September 12, 2022:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
15 Chief Judge Danny C. Reeves Lexington 1957 2001–present 2019–present G.W. Bush
14 District Judge Karen K. Caldwell Lexington 1956 2001–present 2012–2019 G.W. Bush
16 District Judge David Bunning Covington 1966 2002–present G.W. Bush
17 District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove Frankfort 1960 2006–present G.W. Bush
19 District Judge Claria Horn Boom[Note 1] London 1969 2018–present Trump
20 District Judge Robert E. Wier Lexington 1967 2018–present Trump
8 Senior Judge William Bertelsman Covington 1936 1979–2001 1991–1998 2001–present Carter
12 Senior Judge Joseph Martin Hood inactive 1942 1990–2007 2005–2007 2007–present G.H.W. Bush
  1. ^ Judge Boom is jointly appointed to the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky.

Former judges

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Andrew McConnell January Cochran KY 1854–1934 1901–1934[Note 1] McKinley[Note 2]
T. Roosevelt[Note 3]
2 Hiram Church Ford KY 1884–1969 1935–1963 1948–1963 1963–1969 F. Roosevelt death
3 Mac Swinford KY 1899–1975 1937–1975[Note 4] 1963–1969 F. Roosevelt death
4 Bernard Thomas Moynahan Jr. KY 1918–1999 1963–1984 1969–1984 1984–1999 Kennedy death
5 Howard David Hermansdorfer KY 1931–2003 1972–1981 Nixon resignation
6 Eugene Edward Siler Jr. KY 1936–present 1975–1991[Note 4] 1984–1991 Ford elevation to 6th Cir.
7 Scott Elgin Reed KY 1921–1994 1979–1988 1988–1994 Carter death
9 Green Wix Unthank KY 1923–2013 1980–1988 1988–2013 Carter death
10 Henry Rupert Wilhoit Jr. KY 1935–2022 1981–2000 1998–2000 2000–2022 Reagan death
11 Karl Spillman Forester KY 1940–2014 1988–2005 2001–2005 2005–2014 Reagan death
13 Jennifer B. Coffman KY 1948–present 1993–2013[Note 4] 2007–2012 Clinton retirement
18 Amul Thapar KY 1969–present 2008–2017 G.W. Bush elevation to 6th Cir.
  1. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 5, 1901, confirmed by the United States Senate on December 17, 1901, and received commission the same day.
  2. ^ Judge Cochran was given a recess appointment by President McKinley.
  3. ^ Judge Cochran was nominated by President McKinley but was appointed to the Court by (i.e., received his commission from) President Roosevelt.
  4. ^ a b c Jointly appointed to the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky.

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.

Succession of seats

See also


  1. ^ Asbury Dickens, A Synoptical Index to the Laws and Treaties of the United States of America (1852), p. 391.
  2. ^ a b c d U.S. District Courts of Kentucky, Legislative history, Federal Judicial Center.
  3. ^ "Meet the U.S. Attorney". April 25, 2022.
  4. ^ "The Political Graveyard: U.S. District Attorneys in Kentucky". politicalgraveyard.com. Retrieved 2024-04-16.
  5. ^ "Former US Attorney Joe Famularo Dies". Wave. 2002-12-09. Retrieved 2024-04-16.
  6. ^ "Kentucky U.S. Attorney Jim Zerhusen Steps Down – Tickle The Wire". 2010-03-28. Retrieved 2024-04-16.

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