United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee
(W.D. Tenn.)
WDTenn map.PNG
More locations
Appeals toSixth Circuit
EstablishedApril 29, 1802
Chief JudgeStanley Thomas Anderson
Officers of the court
U.S. AttorneyJoe Murphy (acting)
U.S. MarshalTyreece L. Miller

The United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee (in case citations, W.D. Tenn.) is the federal district court covering the western part of the state of Tennessee. Appeals from the Western District of Tennessee 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).


The jurisdiction of the Western District of Tennessee comprises the following counties: Benton, Carroll, Chester, Crockett, Decatur, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Henry, Lake, Lauderdale, Madison, McNairy, Obion, Perry, Shelby, Tipton, and Weakley.

The court's jurisdiction includes the entirety of West Tennessee, plus Perry County in Middle Tennessee. This area includes the cities of Jackson and Memphis.

The United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Tennessee represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. As of March 1, 2021 the Acting United States Attorney is Joe Murphy.[1]


The United States District Court for the District of Tennessee was established with one judgeship on January 31, 1797, by 1 Stat. 496.[2][3] The judgeship was filled by President George Washington's appointment of John McNairy. Since Congress failed to assign the district to a circuit, the court had the jurisdiction of both a district court and a circuit court. Appeals from this one district court went directly to the United States Supreme Court.

On February 13, 1801, in the famous "Midnight Judges" Act of 1801, 2 Stat. 89, Congress abolished the U.S. district court in Tennessee,[3] and expanded the number of circuits to six, provided for independent circuit court judgeships, and abolished the necessity of Supreme Court Justices riding the circuits. It was this legislation which created the grandfather of the present Sixth Circuit. The act provided for a "Sixth Circuit" comprising two districts in the State of Tennessee, one district in the State of Kentucky and one district, called the Ohio District, composed of the Ohio and Indiana territories (the latter including the present State of Michigan). The new Sixth Circuit Court was to be held at "Bairdstown" in the District of Kentucky, at Knoxville in the District of East Tennessee, at Nashville in the District of West Tennessee, and at Cincinnati in the District of Ohio. Unlike the other circuits which were provided with three circuit judges, the Sixth Circuit was to have only one circuit judge with district judges from Kentucky and Tennessee comprising the rest of the court. Any two judges constituted a quorum. New circuit judgeships were to be created as district judgeships in Kentucky and Tennessee became vacant.[4]

The repeal of this Act restored the District on March 8, 1802, 2 Stat. 132.[3] The District was divided into the Eastern and Western Districts on April 29, 1802.[2] On February 24, 1807, Congress again abolished the two districts and created the United States Circuit for the District of Tennessee. On March 3, 1837, Congress assigned the judicial district of Tennessee to the Eighth Circuit. On June 18, 1839, by 5 Stat. 313, Congress divided Tennessee into three districts, Eastern, Middle, and Western.[2][3][5] Again, only one judgeship was allotted for all three districts. On July 15, 1862, Congress reassigned appellate jurisdiction to the Sixth Circuit. Finally, on June 14, 1878, Congress authorized a separate judgeship for the Western District of Tennessee. President Rutherford B. Hayes then appointed Eli Shelby Hammond as the first judge for only the Western District of Tennessee.

There are now five permanent judgeships and four magistrate judgeships for the Western District of Tennessee.

Current judges

As of September 1, 2022:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
22 Chief Judge Stanley Thomas Anderson Jackson 1953 2008–present 2017–present G.W. Bush
24 District Judge Sheryl H. Lipman Memphis 1963 2014–present Obama
25 District Judge Tommy Parker Memphis 1963 2018–present Trump
26 District Judge Mark Norris Memphis 1955 2018–present Trump
27 District Judge vacant
16 Senior Judge James Dale Todd Jackson 1943 1985–2008 2001–2007 2008–present Reagan
18 Senior Judge Jon Phipps McCalla Memphis 1947 1992–2013 2008–2013 2013–present G.H.W. Bush
20 Senior Judge Samuel H. Mays Jr. Memphis 1948 2002–2015 2015–present G.W. Bush
21 Senior Judge J. Daniel Breen Jackson 1950 2003–2017 2013–2017 2017–present G.W. Bush
23 Senior Judge John Thomas Fowlkes Jr. Memphis 1951 2012–2022 2022–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
3 Memphis John Thomas Fowlkes Jr. Senior status September 1, 2022

Former judges

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 John McNairy TN 1762–1837 1802–1833[Note 1][Note 2] Washington/Operation of law resignation
2 Morgan Welles Brown TN 1800–1853 1834–1853[Note 2][Note 3] Jackson death
3 West Hughes Humphreys TN 1806–1882 1853–1862[Note 4] Pierce impeachment and conviction
4 Connally Findlay Trigg TN 1810–1880 1862–1878[Note 4] Lincoln seat abolished
5 Eli Shelby Hammond TN 1838–1904 1878–1904 Hayes death
6 John E. McCall TN 1859–1920 1905–1920 T. Roosevelt death
7 John William Ross TN 1878–1925 1921–1925 Harding death
8 Harry Bennett Anderson TN 1879–1935 1925–1935[Note 5] Coolidge death
9 John Donelson Martin Sr. TN 1883–1962 1935–1940 F. Roosevelt elevation to 6th Cir.
10 Marion Speed Boyd TN 1900–1988 1940–1966 1961–1966 1966–1988 F. Roosevelt death
11 Bailey Brown TN 1917–2004 1961–1979 1966–1979 Kennedy elevation to 6th Cir.
12 Robert Malcolm McRae Jr. TN 1921–2004 1966–1986 1979–1986 1986–2004 L. Johnson death
13 Harry W. Wellford TN 1924–2021 1970–1982 Nixon elevation to 6th Cir.
14 Odell Horton TN 1929–2006 1980–1995 1987–1994 1995–2006 Carter death
15 Julia Smith Gibbons TN 1950–present 1983–2002 1994–2000 Reagan elevation to 6th Cir.
17 Jerome Turner TN 1942–2000 1987–2000 Reagan death
19 Bernice B. Donald TN 1951–present 1995–2011 Clinton elevation to 6th Cir.
  1. ^ Reassigned from the District of Tennessee.
  2. ^ a b Jointly appointed to the Eastern and Western Districts of Tennessee
  3. ^ From 1839 to 1853, Judge Brown was jointly appointed to the Middle District of Tennessee.
  4. ^ a b Jointly appointed to the Eastern, Middle, and Western Districts of Tennessee
  5. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 8, 1925, confirmed by the United States Senate on January 29, 1926, and received commission the same day.

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


The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee is based out of two courthouses, the Clifford Davis Federal Building on 167 North Main Street in downtown Memphis and the Ed Jones Federal Building in Jackson, Tennessee.

List of U.S. Attorneys

See also


  1. ^ "First Assistant United States Attorney Joseph "Joe" Murphy appointed Acting United States Attorney, Western District of Tennessee" (Press release). United States Attorney's Office. March 1, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Asbury Dickens, A Synoptical Index to the Laws and Treaties of the United States of America (1852), p. 391.
  3. ^ a b c d U.S. District Courts of Tennessee, Legislative history, Federal Judicial Center.
  4. ^ The Honorable Harry Phillips, "History of the Sixth Circuit Archived January 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine".
  5. ^ Alfred Conkling, A Treatise on the Organization, Jurisdiction and Practice of the Courts of the United States (1842), p. 42.
  6. ^ "Listing Of Past And Current United States Attorneys". Department of Justice.