United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky
(W.D. Ky.)
LocationGene Snyder U.S. Courthouse
More locations
Appeals toSixth Circuit
EstablishedFebruary 12, 1901
Chief JudgeGregory N. Stivers
Officers of the court
U.S. AttorneyMichael A. Bennett
U.S. MarshalGary B. Burman

The United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky (in case citations, W.D. Ky.) is the federal district court for the western part of the state of Kentucky.

Appeals from the Western District of Kentucky are taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit).


Jurisdiction includes the following Kentucky counties: Adair, Allen, Ballard, Barren, Breckinridge, Bullitt, Butler, Caldwell, Calloway, Carlisle, Casey, Christian, Clinton, Crittenden, Cumberland, Daviess, Edmonson, Fulton, Graves, Grayson, Green, Hancock, Hardin, Hart, Henderson, Hickman, Hopkins, Jefferson, LaRue, Livingston, Logan, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, McCracken, McLean, Meade, Metcalfe, Monroe, Muhlenberg, Nelson, Ohio, Oldham, Russell, Simpson, Spencer, Taylor, Todd, Trigg, Union, Warren, Washington, and Webster.

The following counties are in the Louisville Division: Breckinridge, Bullitt, Hardin, Jefferson, LaRue, Marion, Meade, Nelson, Oldham, Spencer, and Washington.

The following counties are in the Bowling Green Division: Adair, Allen, Barren, Butler, Casey, Clinton, Cumberland, Edmonson, Green, Hart, Logan, Metcalf, Monroe, Russell, Simpson, Taylor, Todd, and Warren.

The following counties are in the Owensboro Division: Daviess, Grayson, Hancock, Henderson, Hopkins, McLean, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Union, and Webster.

The following counties are in the Paducah Division: Ballard, Caldwell, Calloway, Carlisle, Christian, Crittenden, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Livingston, Lyon, McCracken, Marshall, and Trigg.


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 Louisville and also holds sessions in federal courthouses in Bowling Green, Owensboro, and Paducah. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati, Ohio maintains appellate jurisdiction over the district. Its court in Louisville is located at the Gene Snyder U.S. Courthouse.

U.S. Attorneys

The United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Kentucky represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. As of November 17, 2021 the United States attorney is Michael A. Bennett.

Current judges

As of September 1, 2023:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
21 Chief Judge Gregory N. Stivers Bowling Green
1960 2014–present 2018–present Obama
22 District Judge David J. Hale Louisville 1967 2014–present Obama
23 District Judge Claria Horn Boom[Note 1] Louisville 1969 2018–present Trump
24 District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings Louisville 1978 2018–present Trump
26 District Judge Benjamin Beaton Louisville 1981 2020–present Trump
16 Senior Judge Charles Ralph Simpson III Louisville 1945 1986–2013 1994–2001 2013–present Reagan
20 Senior Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr. Louisville
1954 1995–2019 2011–2018 2019–present Clinton
  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 Walter Evans KY 1842–1923 1901–1923[Note 1] McKinley/Operation of law death
2 Charles Harwood Moorman KY 1876–1938 1924–1925 Coolidge elevation to 6th Cir.
3 Charles I. Dawson KY 1881–1969 1925–1935 Coolidge resignation
4 Elwood Hamilton KY 1883–1945 1935–1938 F. Roosevelt elevation to 6th Cir.
5 Mac Swinford KY 1899–1975 1937–1975[Note 2] F. Roosevelt death
6 Shackelford Miller Jr. KY 1892–1965 1939–1945 F. Roosevelt elevation to 6th Cir.
7 Roy Mahlon Shelbourne KY 1890–1974 1946–1964 1948–1960 1964–1974 Truman death
8 Henry Luesing Brooks KY 1905–1971 1954–1969 1960–1969 Eisenhower elevation to 6th Cir.
9 James Fleming Gordon KY 1918–1990 1965–1976 1969–1976 1976–1990 L. Johnson death
10 Clifton Rhodes Bratcher KY 1917–1977 1970–1977 1976–1977 Nixon death
11 Charles Mengel Allen KY 1916–2000 1971–1985 1977–1985 1985–2000 Nixon death
12 Eugene Edward Siler Jr. KY 1936–present 1975–1991[Note 2] Ford elevation to 6th Cir.
13 Edward Huggins Johnstone KY 1922–2013 1977–1993 1985–1990 1993–2013 Carter death
14 Thomas Austin Ballantine Jr. KY 1926–1992 1977–1991 1990–1991 1991–1992 Carter death
15 Ronald Edward Meredith KY 1946–1994 1985–1994 1991–1994 Reagan death
17 John G. Heyburn II KY 1948–2015 1992–2014 2001–2008 2014–2015 G.H.W. Bush death
18 Jennifer B. Coffman KY 1948–present 1993–2013[Note 2] Clinton retirement
19 Thomas B. Russell KY 1945–present 1994–2011 2008–2011 2011–2023 Clinton retirement
25 Justin R. Walker KY 1982–present 2019–2020 Trump elevation to D.C. Cir.
  1. ^ Reassigned from the District of Kentucky.
  2. ^ 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. ^ "Interview with Steven S. Reed, December 14, 2018". kentuckyoralhistory.org. Retrieved 2024-04-19.
  4. ^ "District of Alaska | Former United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr". www.justice.gov. 2021-03-01. Retrieved 2024-04-19.

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