United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
(S.D. Fla.)
LocationWilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. U.S. Courthouse
More locations
Appeals toEleventh Circuit
EstablishedFebruary 23, 1847
Chief JudgeCecilia Altonaga
Officers of the court
U.S. AttorneyMarkenzy Lapointe
U.S. MarshalGadyaces S. Serralta
Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. United States Courthouse in Miami in 2007

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida (in case citations, S.D. Fla. or S.D. Fl.) is the federal United States district court with territorial jurisdiction over the southern part of the state of Florida.[1]

Appeals from cases brought in the Southern District of Florida are to the United States Court of Appeals for 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).


On the same day that Florida was admitted as a state, March 3, 1845, Congress enacted legislation creating the United States District Court for the District of Florida, 5 Stat. 788.[2][3] On February 23, 1847, this District was subdivided into Northern and Southern Districts, by 9 Stat. 131.[2][3] The statute effecting this division set forth the boundaries of the Districts:

[T]hat part of the State of Florida lying south of a line drawn due east and west from the northern point of Charlotte Harbor, including the islands, keys, reefs, shoals, harbors, bays and inlets, south of said line, shall be erected into a new judicial district, to be called the Southern District of Florida; a District Court shall be held in said Southern District, to consist of one judge, who shall reside at Key West, in said district...

On July 30, 1962, the Middle District was created from portions of these districts by 76 Stat. 247.[3]

This federal district has the dubious distinction of having had more judges removed through impeachment than any other district, with a total of two, one fourth of all federal judges so removed.

Famous cases heard in the district include the prosecution of former Panamanian military leader Manuel Noriega,[4] the Elián González case,[5] notorious Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein,[6] a 2000 United States presidential election recount in Florida case,[7] the prosecution of José Padilla,[8] and one of[9] the federal prosecutions of Donald Trump.


The court's jurisdiction comprises the nine counties of Broward, Highlands, Indian River, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Palm Beach, and St. Lucie. The district includes the South Florida metropolitan area of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. It comprises 15,197 square miles (39,360 km2) and approximately 6.3 million people. Courthouses, corresponding to the five divisions of the district, are located in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Pierce, Key West, Miami, and West Palm Beach. The court's offices are located in Miami.

United States attorney and marshal

See also: List of United States attorneys for the Southern District of Florida

The United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. As of January 9, 2023, the United States attorney is Markenzy Lapointe.

The United States Attorney's office has a staff of approximately 233 assistant United States attorneys and 227 support personnel. The main office is located in Miami, Florida, with three staffed branch offices located in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Fort Pierce and one unstaffed branch office located in Key West. There is also a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) office in West Miami-Dade and a Health Care Fraud Facility in Miramar.

On August 28, 2018, Gadyaces S. Serralta was confirmed by the United States Senate to be the United States marshal.

Organization of the court

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida is one of three federal judicial districts in Florida.[10] The District has five divisions:

Fort Pierce Division comprises the following counties: Highlands, Okeechobee, Indian River, St. Lucie, and Martin.[11]

West Palm Beach Division comprises Palm Beach County.[11]

Fort Lauderdale Division comprises Broward County.[11]

Miami Division comprises Miami-Dade County.[11]

Key West Division comprises Monroe County.[11]

Current judges

As of March 4, 2024:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
58 Chief Judge Cecilia Altonaga Miami 1962 2003–present 2021–present G.W. Bush
45 District Judge K. Michael Moore Miami 1951 1992–present 2014–2021 G.H.W. Bush
50 District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks West Palm Beach 1946 1997–present Clinton
52 District Judge William Dimitrouleas Ft. Lauderdale 1951 1998–present Clinton
57 District Judge Jose E. Martinez Miami 1941 2002–present G.W. Bush
61 District Judge Kathleen M. Williams Miami 1956 2011–present Obama
64 District Judge Darrin P. Gayles Miami 1966 2014–present Obama
65 District Judge Beth Bloom Miami 1962 2014–present Obama
66 District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg West Palm Beach 1962 2014–present Obama
67 District Judge Roy Altman Miami
Ft. Lauderdale
1982 2019–present Trump
68 District Judge Rodolfo Ruiz Miami 1979 2019–present Trump
69 District Judge Rodney Smith Ft. Lauderdale 1974 2019–present Trump
70 District Judge Raag Singhal Ft. Lauderdale 1963 2019–present Trump
71 District Judge Aileen Cannon Ft. Pierce 1981 2020–present Trump
72 District Judge Jacqueline Becerra Miami 1970 2024–present Biden
73 District Judge David S. Leibowitz Ft. Lauderdale 1971 2024–present Biden
74 District Judge Melissa Damian Ft. Lauderdale 1968 2024–present Biden
75 District Judge vacant
27 Senior Judge James Lawrence King Miami 1927 1970–1992 1984–1991 1992–present Nixon
40 Senior Judge William J. Zloch Ft. Lauderdale 1944 1985–2017 2000–2007 2017–present Reagan
42 Senior Judge Federico A. Moreno Miami 1952 1990–2020 2007–2014 2020–present G.H.W. Bush
43 Senior Judge Donald L. Graham Miami 1948 1991–2013 2013–present G.H.W. Bush
48 Senior Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley West Palm Beach 1943 1994–2009 2009–present Clinton
49 Senior Judge Joan A. Lenard Miami 1952 1995–2017 2017–present Clinton
51 Senior Judge Alan Stephen Gold inactive 1944 1997–2010 2010–present Clinton
53 Senior Judge Patricia A. Seitz Miami 1946 1998–2012 2012–present Clinton
55 Senior Judge Paul Huck Miami 1940 2000–2010 2010–present Clinton
56 Senior Judge Kenneth Marra West Palm Beach 1951 2002–2017 2017–present G.W. Bush
59 Senior Judge James I. Cohn Ft. Lauderdale 1948 2003–2016 2016–present G.W. Bush
62 Senior Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. Miami 1955 2011–2023 2023–present Obama

Vacancies and pending nominations

Seat Prior judge's duty station Seat last held by Vacancy reason Date of vacancy Nominee Date of nomination
8 Miami Robert N. Scola Jr. Senior status October 31, 2023 Detra Shaw-Wilder March 21, 2024

Former judges

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 William Marvin FL 1808–1902 1847–1863 Polk resignation
2 Thomas Jefferson Boynton FL 1838–1871 1863–1870[Note 1] Lincoln resignation
3 John McKinney FL 1829–1871 1870–1871[Note 2] Grant death
4 James William Locke FL 1837–1922 1872–1912 Grant retirement
5 John Moses Cheney FL 1859–1922 1912–1913[Note 3] Taft not confirmed
6 Rhydon Mays Call FL 1858–1927 1913–1927[Note 4] Wilson death
7 Lake Jones FL 1867–1930 1924–1930 Coolidge death
8 Alexander Akerman FL 1869–1948 1929–1939 1939–1948 Coolidge death
9 Halsted L. Ritter FL 1868–1951 1929–1936 Coolidge impeachment and conviction
10 Louie Willard Strum FL 1890–1954 1931–1950 1948–1950 Hoover elevation to 5th Cir.
11 John W. Holland FL 1883–1969 1936–1955 1950–1955 1955–1969 F. Roosevelt death
12 William J. Barker FL 1886–1968 1940–1959 1955–1959 1959–1968 F. Roosevelt death
13 Curtis L. Waller FL 1887–1950 1940–1943[Note 5] F. Roosevelt elevation to 5th Cir.
14 Dozier A. DeVane FL 1883–1963 1943–1958[Note 6] 1958–1963 F. Roosevelt death
15 George William Whitehurst FL 1891–1974 1950–1961[Note 5] 1959–1961 1961–1974 Truman death
16 John Milton Bryan Simpson FL 1903–1987 1950–1962 1961–1962 Truman reassignment to M.D. Fla
17 Emett Clay Choate FL 1891–1974 1954–1965 1965–1974 Eisenhower death
18 Joseph Patrick Lieb FL 1901–1971 1955–1962[Note 7] Eisenhower reassignment to M.D. Fla
18 William McRae FL 1909–1973 1961–1962 Kennedy reassignment to M.D. Fla
19 David W. Dyer FL 1910–1998 1961–1966 1962–1966 Kennedy elevation to 5th Cir.
20 George C. Young FL 1916–2015 1961–1966[Note 8] Kennedy reassignment to M.D. Fla
21 Charles B. Fulton FL 1910–1996 1963–1978 1966–1977 1978–1996 Kennedy death
22 William O. Mehrtens FL 1905–1980 1965–1975 1975–1980 L. Johnson death
23 C. Clyde Atkins FL 1914–1999 1966–1982 1977–1982 1982–1999 L. Johnson death
24 Ted Cabot FL 1917–1971 1966–1971 L. Johnson death
25 Joe Oscar Eaton FL 1920–2008 1967–1985 1982–1984 1985–2008 L. Johnson death
26 Peter T. Fay FL 1929–2021 1970–1976 Nixon elevation to 5th Cir.
28 Norman Charles Roettger Jr. FL 1930–2003 1972–1997 1991–1997 1997–2003 Nixon death
29 Sidney Aronovitz FL 1920–1997 1976–1988 1988–1997 Ford death
30 William Hoeveler FL 1922–2017 1977–1991 1991–2017 Carter death
32 Edward B. Davis FL 1933–2010 1979–2000 1997–2000 Carter retirement
33 James W. Kehoe FL 1925–1998 1979–1992 1992–1998 Carter death
34 James Carriger Paine FL 1924–2010 1979–1992 1992–2010 Carter death
35 Eugene P. Spellman FL 1930–1991 1979–1991 Carter death
36 Alcee Hastings FL 1936–2021 1979–1989 Carter impeachment and conviction
37 Lenore Carrero Nesbitt FL 1932–2001 1983–1998 1998–2001 Reagan death
38 Stanley Marcus FL 1946–present 1985–1997 Reagan elevation to 11th Cir.
39 Thomas Scott FL 1948–present 1985–1990 Reagan resignation
41 Kenneth Ryskamp FL 1932–2017 1986–2000 2000–2017 Reagan death
44 Shelby Highsmith FL 1929–2015 1991–2002 2002–2015 G.H.W. Bush death
46 Ursula Mancusi Ungaro FL 1951–present 1992–2021 2021 G.H.W. Bush retirement
47 Wilkie D. Ferguson FL 1938–2003 1993–2003 Clinton death
54 Adalberto Jordan FL 1961–present 1999–2012 Clinton elevation to 11th Cir.
60 Marcia G. Cooke FL 1954–2023 2004–2022 2022–2023 G.W. Bush death
63 Robin S. Rosenbaum FL 1966–present 2012–2014 Obama elevation to 11th Cir.
  1. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on January 5, 1864, confirmed by the United States Senate on January 20, 1864, and received commission the same day.
  2. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 7, 1870, confirmed by the Senate on February 18, 1871, and received commission the same day.
  3. ^ Recess appointment; the Senate did not confirm the appointment.
  4. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on April 12, 1913, confirmed by the Senate on April 24, 1913, and received commission the same day.
  5. ^ a b Jointly appointed to the Northern and Southern Districts of Florida.
  6. ^ From 1943-1947, Judge DeVane was jointly appointed to the Northern and Southern Districts of Florida.
  7. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on January 12, 1956, confirmed by the Senate on March 1, 1956, and received commission the same day.
  8. ^ From 1961-1962, Judge Young was jointly appointed to the Northern and Southern Districts of Florida. From 1962-1966, Judge Young was jointly appointed to the Middle, Northern, and Southern Districts of Florida.

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

United States attorneys

List of U.S. attorneys since 1828[12][13]

See also


  1. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 89.
  2. ^ a b Asbury Dickens, A Synoptical Index to the Laws and Treaties of the United States of America (1852), p. 393.
  3. ^ a b c U.S. District Courts of Florida, Legislative history, Federal Judicial Center.
  4. ^ United States v. Noriega, no. 88-cr-00079 (S.D. Fla. 1988).
  5. ^ Gonzalez ex rel. Gonzalez v. Reno, 86 F. Supp. 2d 1167 (S.D. Fla. 2000).
  6. ^ United States v. Rothstein, no. 09-cr-60331 (S.D. Fla. 2009).
  7. ^ Siegel v. LaPore, 120 F. Supp. 2d 1041 (S.D. Fla. 2000).
  8. ^ United States v. Padilla, no. 04-cr-60001 (S.D. Fla. 2007).
  9. ^ United States v. Trump, no. 9:23-cr-80101 (S.D. Fla. 2023).
  10. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 89
  11. ^ a b c d e "Southern District Map" (PDF). www.flsd.uscourts.gov.
  12. ^ "Bicn Celebration" (PDF). www.justice.gov. Retrieved February 19, 2024.
  13. ^ "The Political Graveyard: U.S. District Attorneys in Florida".

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