United States District Court for the Western District of Texas

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Western District of Texas
Fifth Circuit
Judges: 12
Posts: 13
Vacancies: 1
Active judges
Chief: Samuel Biery
Senior Judges
Magistrate Judges
Former Judges
(Numbers indicate % of seats vacant.)
More than 40%

The United States District Court For the Western District Of Texas is the United States district court whose jurisdiction consists of the counties in the western part of the State of Texas. This district covers over 92,000 square miles and seven divisions. It is one of ninety-four United States district courts. When decisions of the court are appealed, they are appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals based in downtown New Orleans at the John Minor Wisdom Federal Courthouse.

The United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. The current district attorney is Richard Durbin.[1]

Vacancy warning level

The United States District Court for the Western District of Texas's vacancy warning level is blue. The court currently has one vacancy out of its thirteen posts.

Pending nominations

There are no pending nominations for the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.

Active judges

Article III judges

JudgeBornHomeAppointed byActiveChiefPreceededBachelorsLaw
Judge Walter Smith, Jr.1940Marlin, TexasReagan 10/4/1984-Present2003-2010New Seat|98 Stat. 333Baylor University, 1964Baylor University School of Law, 1966
Chief Judge Samuel Biery1947McAllen, TXClinton 03/11/1994 - Present2010 - PresentNew Seat|104 Stat. 5089Texas Lutheran College, B.A., 1970Southern Methodist U. Law, J.D., 1973
Judge Sam Sparks1939Austin, TXH.W. Bush 11/25/1991 - PresentNew Seat|104 Stat. 5089University of Texas, B.A., 1961University of Texas Law, LL.B., 1963
Judge Earl Yeakel1945Oklahoma City, OKW. Bush 07/29/2003 - PresentJames NowlinUniversity of Texas, B.A., 1966University of Texas Law, J.D., 1969
Judge Xavier Rodriguez1961San Antonio, TXW. Bush 08/01/2003 - PresentEdward PradoHarvard, B.A., 1983University of Texas Law, J.D., 1987
Judge Kathleen Cardone1953Medina, NYW. Bush 07/29/2003 - PresentNew Seat|116 Stat. 1758Binghamton SUNY, B.A., 1976St. Mary's Law, J.D., 1979
Judge Philip Martinez1957El Paso, TXW. Bush 2/12/2002-PresentNew Seat|114 Stat. 2762University of Texas at El Paso, 1979Harvard Law, 1982
Judge Frank Montalvo1956Bayamon, PRW. Bush 8/1/2003-presentNew Seat|116 Stat. 1758University of Puerto Rico, 1976Wayne State University Law, 1985
Judge Orlando Garcia1952Jim Wells County, TXClinton 03/11/1994 - PresentEmilio GarzaUniversity of Texas, Austin, B.A., 1975University of Texas Law, J.D., 1978
Judge Alia Moses1962Eagle Pass, TXW. Bush 11/15/2002 - PresentHarry HudspethTexas Woman's U., B.B.A., 1983University of Texas Law, J.D., 1986
Judge David Guaderrama1954Las Cruces, NMObama 4/26/2012 - PresentDavid BrionesNew Mexico State U., B.A., 1975Notre Dame Law, J.D., 1979
Judge Robert Lee Pitman1962Fort Worth, TexasObama 12/16/2014-PresentAbilene Christian University, 1985University of Texas at Austin, 1988

Active Article III judges by appointing political party

This graph displays the percent of active judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.


Senior judges

JudgeAppointed byActiveChiefSeniorBachelorsLaw
Senior Judge Harry HudspethCarter 11/27/1979 - 6/30/20011992 - 19996/30/2001 - PresentUniversity of Texas, A.B., 1955University of Texas School of Law, J.D., 1958
Judge David BrionesClinton 10/11/1994 - 02/25/200902/26/2009 - PresentUniversity of Texas, B.A., 1969University of Texas Law, J.D., 1971
Senior Judge Robert JunellW. Bush 2/12/2003-2/13/20152/13/2015-PresentTexas Tech University, 1969Texas Tech University Law, 1976
Senior Judge David Alan EzraReagan 5/20/1988 - 6/27/20121999 - 20056/27/2012 - PresentSt. Mary`s U., B.B.A., 1969St. Mary`s U. School of Law, J.D., 1972
Senior Judge James NowlinReagan 10/26/1981 - 05/30/20031999 - 200305/31/2003 - PresentTrinity U., B.A., 1959University of Texas Law, J.D., 1963

Senior judges by appointing political party

This graph displays the percent of senior judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.


Magistrate judges

Magistrate Judge Victor Garcia05/14/2003 - PresentAngelo State U., B.A., 1977Texas Southern U. Law, J.D., 1980
Magistrate Judge Norbert Garney09/11/2000 - Present
Magistrate Judge Jeff Manske08/01/2001 - PresentBaylor U., B.A., 1983St. Mary's U. Law, J.D., 1986
Magistrate Judge Pamela Mathy06/08/1998 - PresentMarquette U., B.A., 1973University of Wisconsin Law, J.D., 1978
Magistrate Judge John Primomo07/1988 - PresentUniversity of Texas, B.A., 1974St. Mary's U. Law, J.D., 1976
Magistrate Judge B. Dwight Goains11/10/2007 - PresentNational UniversitySouth Texas College of Law
Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin11/22/1999 - PresentUniversity of Virginia, B.A., 1982University of Texas Law, J.D., 1985
Magistrate Judge Collis White10/24/2009 - PresentUniversity of Kansas, B.S.Fordham U. Law, J.D.
Magistrate Judge Robert Castaneda
Magistrate Judge David Counts
Judge Anne Teresa Berton11/20/2012 to CurrentWest Point AcademyTexas Tech University
Magistrate Judge Mark Lane (Texas)2012-PresentUniversity of Texas, 1984University of Huston Law, 1987
Magistrate Judge Miguel A. Torres2013-PresentUniversity of Texas at Austin, 1995
Magistrate Judge Henry J. Bemporad2012-PresentUniversity of Texas at Austin, 1985Stanford University, 1988


The Counties of the Western District of Texas (click for larger map)

The Western District of Texas has original jurisdiction over cases filed within its jurisdiction. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law.

There are seven court divisions, each covering the following counties:

The Austin Division, covering Bastrop, Blanco, Burleson, Burnet, Caldwell, Gillespie, Hays, Kimble, Lampasas, Lee, Llano, Mason, McCulloch, San Saba, Travis, Washington, and Williamson counties;

The Del Rio Division, covering Edwards, Kinney, Maverick, Terrell, Uvalde, Val Verde, and Zavala counties;

The El Paso Division, covering El Paso and Hudspeth counties;

The Midland Division, covering Andrews, Crane, Ector, Martin, Midland, and Upton counties;

The Pecos Division, covering Brewster, Culberson, Jeff Davis, Loving, Pecos, Presidio, Reeves, Ward, and Winkler counties;

The San Antonio Division, covering Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Comal, Dimmit, Frio, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Karnes, Kendall, Kerr, Medina, Real, and Wilson counties; and

The Waco Division, covering Bell, Bosque, Coryell, Falls, Freestone, Hamilton, Hill, Leon, Limestone, McLennan, Milam, Robertson, and Somervell counties.




Federal Court Caseload Statistics*
YearStarting case load:Cases filed:Total cases:Cases terminated:Remaining cases:Median time(Criminal)**:Median time(Civil)**:3 Year Civil cases#:Vacant posts:## Trials/Post
2013 6876124821935812711 66474.97.158 (2.4%)1226
2012 7471135722104313977 70664.96.855 (2.2%)18.828
2011 7105132462035112695 76564.76.854 (2.3%)2445
2010 6632134452007712826 72514.48.754 (2.4%)2442
2009 6398126201901812241 67774.48.342 (1.8%)1728
2008 6019118741789311446 64474.98.339 (1.6%)027
20074911106471555810227533157.554 (2.3%)028
*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website and reflect the calendar year through September.    **Time in months from filing to completion.
#This statistic includes cases which have been appealed in higher courts.    ##This is the total number of months that any judicial posts had spent vacant that year.

Notable cases

For a searchable list of opinions, please see Justia.com-Dockets and Filings-Western District of Texas.


Court history

On December 29, 1845, the State of Texas was organized as one judicial district. One judgeship was authorized for this U.S. district court, and being that it was not assigned to a judicial circuit, the district court was granted the same jurisdiction as the United States circuit courts, excluding appeals and writs of error, which are the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

Texas was divided into two judicial districts, known as the Eastern District of Texas and the Western District of Texas, on February 21, 1857. One judgeship was authorized for the court in each district. Circuit court jurisdiction of the district court in Texas was repealed on July 15, 1862, and a U.S. circuit court was established for the district and assigned over to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Texas was then assigned to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on July 23, 1866.

The Northern District of Texas was established on February 24, 1879, with one judgeship authorized to the district court. On February 9, 1898, a temporary judgeship was authorized to the Northern District. However, the statute provided that any vacancy in the existing judgeship would not be filled.

A few years later, on March 11, 1902, the Southern District of Texas was established and one judgeship was authorized to this district court.

The Western District of Texas had twelve judicial posts added over time for a total of thirteen current posts.[12]

Judicial posts

The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the Western District of Texas:[12]

Year Statute Total Seats
December 29, 1845 9 Stat. 1 1
February 21, 1857 11 Stat. 164 1
February 26, 1917 39 Stat. 938 2
May 19, 1961 75 Stat. 80 3
March 18, 1966 80 Stat. 75 4
June 2, 1970 84 Stat. 294 5
October 20, 1978 92 Stat. 1629 6
July 10, 1984 98 Stat. 333 7
December 1, 1990 104 Stat. 5089 10
December 21, 2000 114 Stat. 2762 11
November 2, 2002 116 Stat. 1758 13

Former chief judges

In order to qualify for the office of chief judge in one of the federal courts, 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 in the office of chief judge 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. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a chief judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion.[13][14]

Former judges

For more information on judges of the Western District of Texas, see [[category:Former federal judge, Western District of Texas|former federal judges of the Western District of Texas.

Federal courthouses

Six separate courthouses serve the Western District of Texas.

Hipolito F. Garcia Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse

Hipolito F. Garcia Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse

This courthouse is located in San Antonio, Texas, next to the Alamo. As such, since its creation it has signified a federal presence in the city. The building officially opened in 1937 and was constructed as part of the Federal Public Works programs following the Great Depression. In 2000, the courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[15]

Austin's United States Courthouse

United States Courthouse in Austin

This courthouse in Austin, Texas, was completed in 2013. The structure encompasses a full city block next to Republic Square Park. To read more about the architecture of the courthouse, see: Texas Architect, "Irreconcilable Differences Resolved," May/June 2013 Issue.[16]

See also

External links