United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
(E.D. Va.)
LocationAlbert V. Bryan U.S. Courthouse
More locations
Appeals toFourth Circuit
EstablishedFebruary 4, 1819
Chief JudgeMark Steven Davis
Officers of the court
U.S. AttorneyJessica D. Aber
U.S. MarshalNick Edward Proffitt
The Norfolk courthouse for the United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia
The Richmond courthouse for the United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (in case citations, E.D. Va.) is one of two United States district courts serving the Commonwealth of Virginia. It has jurisdiction over the Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and Richmond metro areas and surrounding locations with courthouses located in Alexandria, Norfolk, Richmond and Newport News (whose judges are shared with Norfolk).

Appeals from the Eastern District of Virginia 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 United States District Court for the District of Virginia was one of the original 13 courts established by the Judiciary Act of 1789, 1 Stat. 73, on September 24, 1789.[1][2]

On February 13, 1801, the Judiciary Act of 1801, 2 Stat. 89, divided Virginia into three judicial districts: the District of Virginia, which included the counties west of the Tidewater and south of the Rappahannock River; the District of Norfolk, which included the Tidewater counties south of the Rappahannock; and the District of Potomac, which included the counties north and east of the Rappahannock as well as Maryland counties along the Potomac.[2] Just over a year later, on March 8, 1802, the Judiciary Act of 1801 was repealed and Virginia became a single district again, 2 Stat. 132, effective July 1, 1802.[2]

The District of Virginia was subdivided into Eastern and Western Districts on February 4, 1819, by 3 Stat. 478.[1][2] At that time, West Virginia was still part of Virginia, and was encompassed in Virginia's Western District, while the Eastern District essentially covered what is now the entire state of Virginia. With the division of West Virginia from Virginia during the American Civil War, the Western District of Virginia became the District of West Virginia, and those parts of the Western District that were not part of West Virginia were combined with the Eastern District to again form a single District of Virginia on June 11, 1864, by 13 Stat. 124.[2] Congress again divided Virginia into the Eastern and Western Districts on February 3, 1871, by 16 Stat. 403.[2]

During the 1960s, Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. ran the Alexandria court, often ruled cases on the spot after motions were argued. The court earned the nickname of "rocket docket" for the speed and efficiency for which it processes its cases. Since 1997, the court has processed civil cases the fastest of the 94 federal districts, and eighth fastest in dealing with criminal cases.[3] Courts at Richmond are located in the Spottswood W. Robinson III and Robert R. Merhige Jr. Federal Courthouse,[4] having previously been held in the historic Lewis F. Powell Jr. United States Courthouse.


Map of the United States District Courts in Virginia, showing the boundaries of the Eastern and Western Districts, and their divisions.

The Eastern District of Virginia court's jurisdiction covers slightly over six million people, comprising approximately 85% of the state's population. Its jurisdiction is grouped into four geographic divisions:

Alexandria Division

View of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at Alexandria, Virginia.

The Alexandria Division covers the counties of suburban Washington, D.C.: Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, and Stafford, and includes the independent cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Manassas, Manassas Park, and Falls Church.

Richmond Division

The Richmond Division comprises the counties of Amelia, Brunswick, Caroline, Charles City, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Essex, Goochland, Greensville, Hanover, Henrico, James City, King and Queen, King George, King William, Lancaster, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Middlesex, New Kent, Northumberland, Nottoway, Powhatan, Prince Edward, Prince George, Richmond, Spotsylvania, Surry, Sussex, and Westmoreland, as well as independent cities such as Colonial Heights and Fredericksburg.[5]

Norfolk Division

Norfolk Division includes the counties of Accomack, Northampton, Isle of Wight, Southampton, and independent cities such as Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach.

Newport News Division

The Newport News Division includes the counties of Gloucester, Mathews, York County, James City and cities such as Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, and Williamsburg.

United States Attorney

The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia is Jessica D. Aber,[6] serving as prosecution for criminal cases brought by the federal government, and representing the United States in civil cases in the court. The U.S. Attorney's office also manages the Project Safe Neighborhoods program within the district to reduce gun violence, and is involved with federal initiatives on drug trafficking, terrorism, cybercrime, and the prevention of elder care abuse.[7]

Current judges

As of August 18, 2023:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
40 Chief Judge Mark Steven Davis Norfolk 1962 2008–present 2018–present G.W. Bush
33 District Judge Leonie Brinkema Alexandria 1944 1993–present Clinton
43 District Judge Arenda Wright Allen Norfolk 1960 2011–present Obama
44 District Judge M. Hannah Lauck Richmond 1963 2014–present Obama
45 District Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. Alexandria 1957 2019–present Trump
46 District Judge David J. Novak Richmond 1961 2019–present Trump
47 District Judge Roderick C. Young Richmond 1966 2020–present Trump
48 District Judge Patricia Tolliver Giles Alexandria 1973 2021–present Biden
49 District Judge Michael S. Nachmanoff Alexandria 1968 2021–present Biden
50 District Judge Elizabeth Hanes Norfolk 1978 2022–present Biden
51 District Judge Jamar K. Walker Norfolk 1986 2023–present Biden
27 Senior Judge Claude M. Hilton Alexandria 1940 1985–2005 1997–2004 2005–present Reagan
29 Senior Judge T. S. Ellis III Alexandria 1940 1987–2007 2007–present Reagan
30 Senior Judge Rebecca Beach Smith Norfolk 1949 1989–2019 2011–2018 2019–present G.H.W. Bush
32 Senior Judge Robert E. Payne Richmond 1941 1992–2007 2007–present G.H.W. Bush
34 Senior Judge Raymond Alvin Jackson Norfolk 1949 1993–2021 2021–present Clinton
37 Senior Judge Henry E. Hudson Richmond 1947 2002–2018 2018–present G.W. Bush
41 Senior Judge Anthony Trenga Alexandria 1949 2008–2021 2021–present G.W. Bush
42 Senior Judge John A. Gibney Jr. Richmond 1951 2010–2021 2021–present Obama

Former judges

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 St. George Tucker VA 1752–1827 1813–1825[Note 1] Madison resignation
2 George Hay VA 1765–1830 1825–1830[Note 2] J.Q. Adams death
3 Philip P. Barbour VA 1783–1841 1830–1836[Note 3] Jackson elevation to Supreme Court
4 Peter Vivian Daniel VA 1784–1860 1836–1841 Jackson elevation to Supreme Court
5 John Y. Mason VA 1799–1859 1841–1844 Van Buren resignation
6 James Dandridge Halyburton VA 1803–1879 1844–1861 Tyler resignation
7 John Curtiss Underwood VA 1809–1873 1863–1864[Note 4]
1871–1873[Note 5]
Operation of law
reassignment to D. Va.
8 Robert William Hughes VA 1821–1901 1874–1898 Grant retirement
9 Edmund Waddill Jr. VA 1855–1931 1898–1921 McKinley elevation to 4th Cir.
10 Duncan Lawrence Groner VA 1873–1957 1921–1931 Harding elevation to D.C. Cir.
11 Luther B. Way VA 1879–1943 1931–1943 Hoover death
12 Robert Nelson Pollard VA 1880–1954 1936–1947 1947–1954 F. Roosevelt death
13 Charles Sterling Hutcheson VA 1894–1969 1944–1959 1948–1959 1959–1969 F. Roosevelt death
14 Albert Vickers Bryan VA 1899–1984 1947–1961 1959–1961 Truman elevation to 4th Cir.
15 Walter Edward Hoffman VA 1907–1996 1954–1974 1961–1973 1974–1996 Eisenhower death
16 Oren Ritter Lewis VA 1902–1983 1960–1974 1974–1983 Eisenhower death
17 John D. Butzner Jr. VA 1917–2006 1962–1967 Kennedy elevation to 4th Cir.
18 Richard Boykin Kellam VA 1909–1996 1967–1981 1973–1979 1981–1996 L. Johnson death
19 John Ashton MacKenzie VA 1917–2010 1967–1985 1979–1985 1985–1998 L. Johnson retirement
20 Robert R. Merhige Jr. VA 1919–2005 1967–1986 1986–1998 L. Johnson retirement
21 Albert Vickers Bryan Jr. VA 1926–2019 1971–1991 1985–1991 1991–2019 Nixon death
22 David Dortch Warriner VA 1929–1986 1974–1986 Nixon death
23 Joseph Calvitt Clarke Jr. VA 1920–2004 1974–1991 1991–2004 Ford death
24 Richard Leroy Williams VA 1923–2011 1980–1992 1992–2011 Carter death
25 James C. Cacheris VA 1933–present 1981–1998 1991–1997 1998–2018 Reagan retirement
26 Robert G. Doumar VA 1930–2023 1981–1996 1996–2023 Reagan death
28 James R. Spencer VA 1949–present 1986–2014 2004–2011 2014–2017 Reagan retirement
31 Henry Coke Morgan Jr. VA 1935–2022 1992–2004 2004–2022 G.H.W. Bush death
35 Jerome B. Friedman VA 1943–present 1997–2010 2010–2011 Clinton retirement
36 Gerald Bruce Lee VA 1952–present 1998–2017 Clinton retirement
38 Walter D. Kelley Jr. VA 1955–present 2004–2008 G.W. Bush resignation
39 Liam O'Grady VA 1950–present 2007–2020 2020–2023 G.W. Bush retirement
  1. ^ Initially appointed to the United States District Court for the District of Virginia, reassigned by operation of law to the Eastern District of Virginia on February 4, 1819.
  2. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 13, 1825, confirmed by the United States Senate on March 31, 1826, and received commission the same day.
  3. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 14, 1830, confirmed by the Senate on December 16, 1830, and received commission the same day.
  4. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on January 5, 1864, confirmed by the Senate on January 25, 1864, and received commission the same day.
  5. ^ Reassigned from the United States District Court for the District of Virginia on June 11, 1864.

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

Notable cases

The Eastern District of Virginia has handled many notable cases, including:

United States Attorneys

List of U.S. Attorneys since 1831[11][12]

See also


  1. ^ a b Asbury Dickens, A Synoptical Index to the Laws and Treaties of the United States of America (1852), p. 388.
  2. ^ a b c d e f U.S. District Courts of Virginia, Legislative history, Federal Judicial Center.
  3. ^ Markon, Jerry (October 3, 2004). "A Double Dose of Molasses in the Rocket Docket". The Washington Post.
  4. ^ "Richmond Courthouse". Retrieved March 8, 2013.
  5. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 127(a)
  6. ^ "Jessica D. Aber Sworn in as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia" (Press release). Alexandria, Virginia: U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. October 12, 2021. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  7. ^ U.S. Attorney's Office – Eastern District of Virginia – Priorities
  8. ^ a b c d "United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Notable cases".
  9. ^ "Soudní jednání o vydání Kevina Dahlgrena začne 12. září" (in Czech). Týden. August 13, 2013. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
  10. ^ "Petition of Nemetz, 485 F. Supp. 470 (E.D. Va. 1980)". Justia Law. Retrieved February 28, 2024.
  11. ^ "Bicentennial Celebration" (PDF). www.justice.gov. Retrieved February 19, 2024.
  12. ^ "The Political Graveyard: U.S. District Attorneys in Virginia".