United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia
(W.D. Va.)
More locations
Appeals toFourth Circuit
EstablishedFebruary 4, 1819
Chief JudgeMichael F. Urbanski
Officers of the court
U.S. AttorneyChristopher R. Kavanaugh
U.S. MarshalThomas L. Foster
Map of the United States District Courts in Virginia, showing the boundaries of the Eastern and Western Districts, and their divisions.

The United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia (in case citations, W.D. Va.) is a United States district court.

Appeals from the Western District of Virginia 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 is seated at multiple locations in Virginia: Abingdon, Charlottesville, Danville, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg and Roanoke.


The United States District Court for the District of Virginia was one of the original 13 courts established by the Judiciary Act of 1789, 1 Stat. 73, on September 24, 1789.[1][2]

On February 13, 1801, the Judiciary Act of 1801, 2 Stat. 89, divided Virginia into three judicial districts: the District of Virginia, which included the counties west of the Tidewater and south of the Rappahannock River; the District of Norfolk, which included the Tidewater counties south of the Rappahannock; and the District of Potomac, which included the counties north and east of the Rappahannock as well as Maryland counties along the Potomac.[2] Just over a year later, on March 8, 1802, the Judiciary Act of 1801 was repealed and Virginia became a single District again, 2 Stat. 132, effective July 1, 1802.[2]

The District of Virginia was subdivided into Eastern and Western Districts on February 4, 1819, by 3 Stat. 478.[1][2] At that time, West Virginia, was still part of Virginia, and was encompassed in Virginia's Western District, while the Eastern District essentially covered what is now the entire state of Virginia. With the division of West Virginia from Virginia during the American Civil War, the Western District of Virginia became the District of West Virginia, and those parts of the Western District that were not part of West Virginia were combined with the Eastern District to form again a single District of Virginia on June 11, 1864, by 13 Stat. 124.[2] Congress again divided Virginia into Eastern and the Western Districts on February 3, 1871, by 16 Stat. 403.[2]

District courthouse in Lynchburg

Counties of jurisdiction

The Western District of Virginia covers the counties of Albemarle, Alleghany, Amherst, Appomattox, Augusta, Bath, Bedford, Bland, Botetourt, Buchanan, Buckingham, Campbell, Carroll, Charlotte, Clarke, Craig, Culpeper, Cumberland, Dickenson, Floyd, Fluvanna, Franklin, Frederick, Giles, Grayson, Greene, Halifax, Henry, Highland, Lee, Louisa, Madison, Montgomery, Nelson, Orange, Page, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Pulaski, Rappahannock, Roanoke, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Russell, Scott, Shenandoah, Smyth, Tazewell, Warren, Washington, Wise, and Wythe; and the independent cities of Bedford, Bristol, Buena Vista, Charlottesville, Covington, Danville, Galax, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Lynchburg, Martinsville, Norton, Radford, Roanoke, Salem, Staunton, Waynesboro, and Winchester.

Current judges

As of March 12, 2024:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
26 Chief Judge Michael F. Urbanski Roanoke 1956 2011–present 2017–present Obama
27 District Judge Elizabeth K. Dillon Roanoke 1960 2014–present Obama
28 District Judge Thomas T. Cullen Roanoke 1977 2020–present Trump
29 District Judge Robert S. Ballou Roanoke 1962 2023–present Biden
30 District Judge Jasmine H. Yoon Charlottesville 1980 beg. 2024 Biden
23 Senior Judge James Parker Jones Abingdon 1940 1996–2021 2004–2010 2021–present Clinton
24 Senior Judge Norman K. Moon Lynchburg 1936 1997–2010 2010–present Clinton

Former judges

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 John G. Jackson VA 1777–1825 1819–1825 Monroe death
2 Philip C. Pendleton VA 1779–1863 1825–1825[Note 1] J.Q. Adams resignation
3 Alexander Caldwell VA 1774–1839 1825–1839[Note 2] J.Q. Adams death
4 Isaac S. Pennybacker VA 1805–1847 1839–1845[Note 3] Van Buren resignation
5 John White Brockenbrough VA 1806–1877 1846–1861 Polk resignation
6 John Jay Jackson Jr. VA 1824–1907 1861–1864 Lincoln reassignment to D. W.Va.
7 Alexander Rives VA 1806–1885 1871–1882 Grant retirement
8 John Paul VA 1839–1901 1883–1901 Arthur death
9 Henry C. McDowell Jr. VA 1861–1933 1901–1931[Note 4] 1931–1933 T. Roosevelt death
10 John Paul Jr. VA 1883–1964 1932–1958 1948–1958 1958–1964 Hoover death
11 Floyd H. Roberts VA 1879–1967 1938–1939[Note 5] F. Roosevelt not confirmed
12 Armistead Mason Dobie VA 1881–1962 1939–1940 F. Roosevelt elevation to 4th Cir.
13 Alfred D. Barksdale VA 1892–1972 1939–1957[Note 6] 1957–1972 F. Roosevelt death
14 Roby C. Thompson VA 1898–1960 1957–1960 1958–1960 Eisenhower death
15 Theodore Roosevelt Dalton VA 1901–1989 1959–1976 1960–1971 1976–1989 Eisenhower death
16 Thomas J. Michie VA 1896–1973 1961–1973 Kennedy death
17 Hiram Emory Widener Jr. VA 1923–2007 1969–1972 1971–1972 Nixon elevation to 4th Cir.
18 James Clinton Turk VA 1923–2014 1972–2002 1973–1993 2002–2014 Nixon death
19 Glen Morgan Williams VA 1920–2012 1976–1988 1988–2012 Ford death
20 James Harry Michael Jr. VA 1918–2005 1980–1995 1995–2005 Carter death
21 Jackson L. Kiser VA 1929–2020 1981–1997 1993–1997 1997–2020 Reagan death
22 Samuel Grayson Wilson VA 1949–present 1990–2014 1997–2004 G.H.W. Bush retirement
25 Glen E. Conrad VA 1949–2021 2003–2017 2010–2017 2017–2021 G.W. Bush death
  1. ^ Recess appointment; the United States Senate later rejected the appointment.
  2. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 13, 1825, confirmed by the Senate on January 3, 1826, and received commission the same day.
  3. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on January 29, 1840, confirmed by the Senate on February 17, 1840, and received commission the same day.
  4. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 5, 1901, confirmed by the Senate on December 18, 1901, and received commission the same day.
  5. ^ Recess appointment; the Senate later rejected the appointment.
  6. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on January 11, 1940, confirmed by the United States Senate on February 1, 1940, and received commission on February 5, 1940.

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. Attorney and U.S. Marshal

The U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia represents the federal government in the court. As of October 7, 2021 the United States attorney is Christopher R. Kavanaugh.[3]

The current U.S. marshal for the Western District of Virginia is Thomas L. Foster.

Former U.S. attorneys

See also


  1. ^ a b Asbury Dickens, A Synoptical Index to the Laws and Treaties of the United States of America (1852), p. 388.
  2. ^ a b c d e f U.S. District Courts of Virginia, Legislative history, Federal Judicial Center.
  3. ^ "Christopher R. Kavanaugh Sworn in as United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia" (Press release). Roanoke, Virginia: U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District Virginia. October 12, 2021. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  4. ^ "The Political Graveyard: U.S. District Attorneys in Virginia".