United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina
LocationCharles R. Jonas Federal Building
More locations
Appeals toFourth Circuit
EstablishedJune 4, 1872
Chief JudgeMartin Karl Reidinger
Officers of the court
U.S. AttorneyDena J. King
U.S. MarshalTerry J. Burgin

The United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina (in case citations, W.D.N.C.) is a federal district court which covers the western third of North Carolina.

Appeals from the Western District of North Carolina 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 court's jurisdiction comprises the following counties: Alexander, Alleghany, Anson, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Gaston, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Iredell, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Union, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey. It has jurisdiction over the cities of Asheville, Charlotte, Hickory, and Statesville.

The United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. As of November 29, 2021 the United States attorney is Dena J. King.[1]


The United States District Court for the District of North Carolina was established on June 4, 1790, by 1 Stat. 126.[2][3] On June 9, 1794, it was subdivided into three districts by 1 Stat. 395,[3] but on March 3, 1797, the three districts were abolished and the single District restored by 1 Stat. 517,[3] until April 29, 1802, when the state was again subdivided into three different districts by 2 Stat. 156.[2][3]

In both instances, these districts, unlike those with geographic designations that existed in other states, were titled by the names of the cities in which the courts sat. After the first division, they were styled the District of Edenton, the District of New Bern, and the District of Wilmington; after the second division, they were styled the District of Albemarle, the District of Cape Fear, and the District of Pamptico. However, in both instances, only one judge was authorized to serve all three districts, causing them to effectively operate as a single district.[3] The latter combination was occasionally referred to by the cumbersome title of the United States District Court for the Albemarle, Cape Fear & Pamptico Districts of North Carolina.

On June 4, 1872, North Carolina was re-divided into two Districts, Eastern and Western, by 17 Stat. 215.[3] The presiding judge of the District of North Carolina, George Washington Brooks, was then reassigned to preside over only the Eastern District, allowing President Ulysses S. Grant to appoint Robert P. Dick to be the first judge of the Western District of North Carolina. The Middle District was created from portions of the Eastern and Western Districts on March 2, 1927, by 44 Stat. 1339.[3]

Current judges

As of May 17, 2023:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
18 Chief Judge Martin Karl Reidinger Asheville 1958 2007–present 2020–present G.W. Bush
17 District Judge Frank DeArmon Whitney Charlotte 1959 2006–present 2013–2020 G.W. Bush
19 District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. Asheville 1951 2011–present Obama
20 District Judge Kenneth D. Bell Charlotte 1958 2019–present Trump
21 District Judge vacant
12 Senior Judge Richard Lesley Voorhees Charlotte 1941 1988–2017 1991–1998 2017–present Reagan
13 Senior Judge Graham Calder Mullen Charlotte 1940 1990–2005 1998–2005 2005–present G.H.W. Bush
16 Senior Judge Robert J. Conrad Charlotte 1958 2005–2023 2006–2013 2023–present G.W. Bush

Vacancies and pending nominations

Seat Prior judge's duty station Seat last held by Vacancy reason Date of vacancy Nominee Date of nomination
6 Charlotte Robert J. Conrad Senior status May 17, 2023
4 Asheville Max O. Cogburn Jr. TBD[4]

Former judges

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Robert P. Dick NC 1823–1898 1872–1898 Grant retirement
2 Hamilton G. Ewart NC 1849–1918 1898–1899[Note 1]
1899–1900[Note 2]
not confirmed
not confirmed
3 James Edmund Boyd NC 1845–1935 1900–1935[Note 3] McKinley death
4 Edwin Y. Webb NC 1872–1955 1919–1948 1948–1955 Wilson death
5 David Ezekiel Henderson NC 1879–1968 1948–1949[Note 4] Truman resignation
6 Wilson Warlick NC 1892–1978 1949–1968 1961–1962
1968–1978 Truman death
7 James Braxton Craven Jr. NC 1918–1977 1961–1966 1962–1966 Kennedy elevation to 4th Cir.
8 Woodrow W. Jones NC 1914–2002 1967–1985 1968–1984 1985–2002 L. Johnson death
9 James Bryan McMillan NC 1916–1995 1968–1989 1989–1995 L. Johnson death
10 Robert Daniel Potter NC 1923–2009 1981–1994 1984–1991 1994–2009 Reagan death
11 David B. Sentelle NC 1943–present 1985–1987 Reagan elevation to D.C. Cir.
14 Lacy Thornburg NC 1929–present 1995–2009 Clinton retirement
15 Harold Brent McKnight NC 1952–2004 2003–2004 G.W. Bush death
  1. ^ Recess appointment; the United States Senate later rejected the appointment.
  2. ^ Received a second recess appointment and was again rejected by the Senate.
  3. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 15, 1900, confirmed by the Senate on January 9, 1901, and received commission the same day.
  4. ^ Recess appointment; resigned prior to consideration by the Senate.

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

U.S. attorneys for the Western District

The Western and Eastern districts were created in 1872. D. H. Starbuck, who was serving as U.S. Attorney for the entire state, continued in office by serving as Attorney for the Western District.

See also


  1. ^ "Dena J. King Is Sworn In As United States Attorney For The Western District Of North Carolina" (Press release). Charlotte, North Carolina: U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina. November 29, 2021. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Asbury Dickens, A Synoptical Index to the Laws and Treaties of the United States of America (1852), p. 389.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g U.S. District Courts of North Carolina, Legislative history, Federal Judicial Center.
  4. ^ "Future Judicial Vacancies". United States Courts.
  5. ^ "United States Attorneys Office - Western District of North Carolina". Archived from the original on 2007-08-20.