United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama
(S.D. Ala.)
LocationJohn Archibald Campbell U.S. Courthouse
More locations
Appeals toEleventh Circuit
EstablishedMarch 10, 1824
Chief JudgeJeff Beaverstock
Officers of the court
U.S. AttorneySean P. Costello
U.S. MarshalMark F. Sloke

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama (in case citations, S.D. Ala.) is a federal court in the Eleventh Circuit (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit).

The District was established on March 10, 1824, with the division of the state into a Northern and Southern district.[1]

The United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Alabama represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. As of February 2, 2021 the United States attorney is Sean P. Costello.

Organization of the court

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama is one of three federal judicial districts in Alabama.[2] Court for the District is held at Mobile and Selma.

Mobile Division comprises the following counties: Baldwin, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia, Mobile, Monroe, and Washington.

Selma Division comprises the following counties: Dallas, Hale, Marengo, Perry, and Wilcox.

Current judges

As of October 1, 2021:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
21 Chief Judge Jeff Beaverstock Mobile 1968 2018–present 2021–present Trump
20 District Judge Kristi DuBose Mobile 1964 2005–present 2017–2021 G.W. Bush
22 District Judge Terry F. Moorer Mobile 1961 2018–present Trump
16 Senior Judge Charles R. Butler Jr. Mobile 1940 1988–2005 1994–2003 2005–present Reagan
18 Senior Judge Callie V. Granade Mobile 1950 2002–2016 2003–2010 2016–present G.W. Bush
19 Senior Judge William H. Steele Mobile 1951 2003–2017 2010–2017 2017–present G.W. Bush

Former judges

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Charles Tait AL 1768–1835 1824–1826[Note 1][Note 2] Monroe/Operation of law resignation
2 William Crawford AL 1784–1849 1826–1849[Note 2][Note 3] J.Q. Adams death
3 John Gayle AL 1792–1859 1849–1859[Note 4] Taylor death
4 William Giles Jones AL 1808–1883 1859–1861[Note 5][Note 4] Buchanan resignation
5 George Washington Lane AL 1806–1863 1861–1863[Note 4] Lincoln death
6 Richard Busteed AL 1822–1898 1863–1874[Note 6][Note 4] Lincoln resignation
7 John Bruce AL 1832–1901 1875–1886[Note 4] Grant seat abolished
8 Harry Theophilus Toulmin AL 1838–1916 1887–1916 Cleveland death
9 Robert Tait Ervin AL 1863–1949 1917–1935 1935–1949 Wilson death
10 John McDuffie AL 1883–1950 1935–1950 F. Roosevelt death
11 Daniel Holcombe Thomas AL 1906–2000 1951–1971 1966–1971 1971–2000 Truman death
12 Thomas Virgil Pittman AL 1916–2012 1966–1981[Note 7] 1971–1981 1981–2012 L. Johnson death
13 William Brevard Hand AL 1924–2008 1971–1989 1981–1989 1989–2008 Nixon death
14 Emmett Ripley Cox AL 1935–2021 1981–1988 Reagan elevation to 11th Cir.
15 Alex T. Howard Jr. AL 1924–2011 1986–1996 1989–1994 1996–2011 Reagan death
17 Richard W. Vollmer Jr. AL 1926–2003 1990–2000 2000–2003 G.H.W. Bush death
  1. ^ Reassigned from the District of Alabama.
  2. ^ a b Jointly appointed to the Northern and the Southern Districts of Alabama.
  3. ^ From 1839 to 1849, Judge Crawford was jointly appointed to the Middle District of Alabama.
  4. ^ a b c d e Jointly appointed to the Middle, Northern, and Southern Districts of Alabama.
  5. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on January 23, 1860, confirmed by the United States Senate on January 30, 1860, and received commission the same day.
  6. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on January 5, 1864, confirmed by the Senate on January 20, 1864, and received commission the same day.
  7. ^ From 1966 to 1970, Judge Pittman was jointly appointed to the Middle and Southern Districts of Alabama.

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

Court decisions

Wallace v. Jaffree (1983) – Court affirmed that silent prayer was permissible in Mobile County public schools. Decision was reversed by Eleventh Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court, both ruling that it violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Smith v. Board of School Commissioners of Mobile County (1987) – Court rules that textbooks promoting secular humanism were unconstitutional, running contrary to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Decision was reversed by Eleventh Circuit, which held that secular humanism was not a violation of the Establishment Clause as it is not a system of belief constituting a "religion".

Searcy v. Strange (2015) – District Judge Callie V. S. "Ginny" Granade ruled that Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, violating the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause, on January 23. Days later, she issued an order clarifying her ruling, saying that all Alabama probate judges, who issue marriage licenses, must comply with the order. She stayed her order for two weeks to allow state defendants time to seek a stay from a higher court. On February 3, the Eleventh Circuit denied the stay, after denying a stay in a similar case out of Florida months before. On February 9, as the order was set to take effect, the U.S. Supreme Court also denied the stay.

U.S. Attorneys

See also


  1. ^ U.S. District Courts of Alabama, Legislative history, Federal Judicial Center
  2. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 81
  3. ^ "Hitchcock, Henry". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved March 26, 2024.
  4. ^ "Bicentennial Celebration of United States Attorneys, 1789–1989" (PDF). 1989. Retrieved March 25, 2024.
  5. ^ "Forsyth Jr., John". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved March 26, 2024.
  6. ^ "Meek, Alexander Beaufort". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved March 26, 2024.
  7. ^ Kirby, Brendan (April 17, 2012). "Ed Vulevich, former prosecutor who served as interim U.S. attorney in Mobile, dies". al. Retrieved April 3, 2024.
  8. ^ Campbell, Robin (2001). "Issues of Consistency in the Federal Death Penalty: A Roundtable Discussion on the Role of the U.S. Attorney". Federal Sentencing Reporter. 14 (1): 52–59. doi:10.1525/fsr.2001.14.1.52. ISSN 1053-9867.
  9. ^ "David Preston York — Department of Justice". Congress.gov. Retrieved March 25, 2024.
  10. ^ "Deborah Jean Johnson Rhodes — Department of Justice". Congress.gov. Retrieved March 25, 2024.
  11. ^ Jillian Kramer, Press-Register (April 5, 2009). "U.S. Attorney Deborah Rhodes announces resignation". al. Retrieved March 26, 2024.
  12. ^ "Southern District of Alabama | Meet the U.S. Attorney | United States Department of Justice". www.justice.gov. March 3, 2021. Retrieved March 26, 2024.