United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
(W.D. Tex.)
LocationSan Antonio
More locations
Appeals toFifth Circuit
EstablishedFebruary 21, 1857
Chief JudgeAlia Moses
Officers of the court
U.S. AttorneyJaime E. Esparza
U.S. MarshalSusan Pamerleau

The United States District Court for the Western District of Texas (in case citations, W.D. Tex.) is a federal district court. The court convenes in San Antonio with divisions in Austin, Del Rio, El Paso, Midland, Pecos, and Waco. It has jurisdiction in over 50 Trans-Pecos, Permian Basin, and Hill Country counties of the U.S. state of Texas. This district covers over 92,000 square miles (240,000 km2) and seven divisions.

Along with the District of New Mexico, Southern District of Texas, and District of Arizona, it is one of the busiest district courts in terms of criminal felony filings.[1]


The first federal judge in Texas was John C. Watrous, who was appointed on May 26, 1846, and had previously served as Attorney General of the Republic of Texas. He was assigned to hold court in Galveston, at the time, the largest city in the state. As seat of the Texas Judicial District, the Galveston court had jurisdiction over the whole state.[2] On February 21, 1857, the state was divided into two districts, Eastern and Western, with Judge Watrous continuing in the Eastern district.[3] Judge Watrous and Judge Thomas H. DuVal, of the Western District of Texas, left the state on the secession of Texas from the Union, the only two federal judges not to resign their posts in states that seceded. When Texas was restored to the Union, Watrous and DuVal resumed their duties and served until 1870.


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

The divisions of the Western District of Texas are:

John H. Wood Jr. Federal Courthouse, home of the court's San Antonio Division
The federal courthouse in Austin is the court location of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division.

The United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. As of December 9, 2022 the United States Attorney is Jaime E. Esparza.[4]

Notable cases

Current judges

As of May 27, 2023:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
32 Chief Judge Alia Moses Del Rio 1962 2002–present 2022–present G.W. Bush
27 District Judge Samuel Frederick Biery Jr. San Antonio 1947 1994–present 2010–2015 Clinton
29 District Judge Orlando Luis Garcia San Antonio 1952 1994–present 2016–2022 Clinton
35 District Judge Kathleen Cardone El Paso 1953 2003–present G.W. Bush
37 District Judge Xavier Rodriguez San Antonio 1961 2003–present G.W. Bush
39 District Judge Robert L. Pitman Austin 1962 2014–present Obama
40 District Judge David Counts Midland
1961 2018–present Trump
41 District Judge Alan Albright Waco 1959 2018–present Trump
42 District Judge Jason K. Pulliam San Antonio 1971 2019–present Trump
43 District Judge vacant
44 District Judge vacant
45 District Judge vacant
46 District Judge vacant
22 Senior Judge James Robertson Nowlin Austin 1937 1981–2003 1999–2003 2003–present Reagan
26 Senior Judge Sam Sparks Austin 1939 1991–2017 2017–present G.H.W. Bush
30 Senior Judge David Briones El Paso 1943 1994–2009 2009–present Clinton
33 Senior Judge Robert A. Junell Midland
1947 2003–2015 2015–present G.W. Bush
36 Senior Judge Frank Montalvo El Paso 1956 2003–2022 2022–present G.W. Bush
38 Senior Judge David C. Guaderrama El Paso 1954 2012–2023 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
11 El Paso Philip Ray Martinez Death February 26, 2021 Leon Schydlower January 10, 2024
13 Frank Montalvo Senior status December 1, 2022 Ernesto Gonzalez
5 David C. Guaderrama May 27, 2023
2 Austin Earl Leroy Yeakel III Retirement May 1, 2023

Former judges

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Thomas Howard DuVal TX 1813–1880 1857–1880 Pierce death
2 Ezekiel B. Turner TX 1825–1888 1880–1888[Note 1] Hayes death
3 Thomas Sheldon Maxey TX 1846–1921 1888–1916 Cleveland retirement
4 DuVal West TX 1861–1949 1916–1931 1931–1949 Wilson death
5 William Robert Smith TX 1863–1924 1917–1924 Wilson death
6 Charles Albert Boynton TX 1867–1954 1924–1947 1947–1954 Coolidge death
7 Robert Johnston McMillan TX 1885–1941 1932–1941 Hoover death
8 Walter Angus Keeling TX 1873–1945 1942–1945 F. Roosevelt death
9 Ben Herbert Rice Jr. TX 1889–1964 1945–1964 1948–1962 Truman death
10 R. Ewing Thomason TX 1879–1973 1947–1963 1963–1973 Truman death
11 Adrian Anthony Spears TX 1910–1991 1961–1979[Note 2] 1962–1979 1979–1982 Kennedy retirement
12 Homer Thornberry TX 1909–1995 1963–1965 L. Johnson[Note 3] elevation to 5th Cir.
13 Dorwin Wallace Suttle TX 1906–2001 1964–1979 1979–2001 L. Johnson death
14 Jack Roberts TX 1910–1988 1966–1980 1979–1980 1980–1988 L. Johnson death
15 Ernest Allen Guinn TX 1905–1974 1966–1974 L. Johnson death
16 John H. Wood Jr. TX 1916–1979 1970–1979 Nixon assassination
17 William S. Sessions TX 1930–2020 1974–1987 1980–1987 Ford resignation
18 Lucius Desha Bunton III TX 1924–2001 1979–1992 1987–1992 1992–2001 Carter death
19 Harry Lee Hudspeth TX 1935–present 1979–2001 1992–1999 2001–2016 Carter retirement
20 Clyde Frederick Shannon Jr. TX 1942–present 1980–1984 Carter resignation
21 Hipolito Frank Garcia TX 1925–2002 1980–2002 Carter death
23 Edward C. Prado TX 1947–present 1984–2003 Reagan elevation to 5th Cir.
24 Walter Scott Smith Jr. TX 1940–present 1984–2016 2003–2010 Reagan retirement
25 Emilio M. Garza TX 1947–present 1988–1991 Reagan elevation to 5th Cir.
28 William Royal Furgeson Jr. TX 1941–present 1994–2008 2008–2013 Clinton retirement
31 Philip Ray Martinez TX 1957–2021 2002–2021 G.W. Bush death
34 Earl Leroy Yeakel III TX 1945–present 2003–2023 G.W. Bush retirement
  1. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 14, 1880, confirmed by the United States Senate on December 20, 1880, and received commission the same day.
  2. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on January 15, 1962, confirmed by the Senate on March 16, 1962, and received commission on March 17, 1962.
  3. ^ Judge Thornberry was nominated by President Kennedy but was appointed to the Court by (i.e., received his commission from) President Johnson.

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. ^ Jock Pan (May 20, 2010). Federal Government of the United States.
  2. ^ "U.S. Department of Justice: 2002 Centennial Report, pgs. 1, 10" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on June 1, 2009. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
  3. ^ "Southern District of Texas: History of the District". Archived from the original on September 17, 2009.
  4. ^ "Meet the U.S. Attorney". www.justice.gov. December 15, 2014. Retrieved December 9, 2022.
  5. ^ Greg Botelho and Carma Hassan (November 7, 2015). "Police: Texas judge shot outside her home". CNN.
  6. ^ Autullo, Ryan. "Onyeri sentenced to life in prison in judge shooting". Austin American-Statesman.
  7. ^ "Onyeri Gets Life in Prison". www.austinchronicle.com.