United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
- 1 Vacancy warning level
- 2 Active judges
- 3 Jurisdiction
- 4 Caseloads
- 5 Notable cases
- 6 History
- 7 Federal courthouse
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 References
The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington is one of ninety-four United States district courts. The district operates out of courthouses in Seattle and Tacoma, Wash. When decisions of the court are appealed, they are appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals based in downtown San Francisco at the James R. Browning Federal Courthouse, but hears initial appeals at the Pioneer Federal Courthouse in Portland, Oregon.
Vacancy warning level
There are no pending nominations for the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington.
Article III judges
|Judge Ronald Leighton||1951||Stockton, CA||W. Bush||11/26/2002 - Present||Robert Bryan||Whitworth College, 1973||UC Hastings College of Law, 1976|
|Judge Robert Lasnik||1951||Staten Island, NY||Clinton||10/22/1998-Present||2004-2011||Carol Dimmick||Brandeis University, 1972||University of Washington School of Law, 1978|
|Judge Richard Jones||1950||Seattle, WA||W. Bush||10/29/2007 - Present||John Coughenour||Seattle U., Bachelor of Public Affairs, 1972||University of Washington School of Law, J.D., 1975|
|Federal Judge Ben Settle||1947||Olympia, WA||W. Bush||7/2/2007 - Present||Franklin Burgess||Claremont McKenna College, B.A., 1969||Willamette University College of Law, J.D., 1972|
|Judge James Robart||1947||Seattle, WA||W. Bush||6/21/2004 - Present||Thomas Zilly||Whitman College, B.A., 1969||Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 1973|
|Judge Ricardo Martinez (Washington)||1951||Mercedes, TX||W. Bush||6/16/2004-Present||New Seat|104 Stat. 5089||University of Washington, 1975||University of Washington School of Law, 1980|
|Chief judge Marsha Pechman||1951||Salem, OR||9/9/1999-Present||2011-Present||William Dwyer||Cornell University, 1973||Boston University, 1976|
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 Judge Robert Bryan||Reagan||5/7/1986 - 11/1/2000||11/1/2000 - Present||University of Washington, B.A., 1956||University of Washington School of Law, J.D., 1958|
|Senior Judge John Coughenour||9/28/1981-7/27/2006||1997-2004||7/27/2006-Present||Kansas State College of Pittsburgh, 1963||University of Iowa College of Law, 1966|
|Senior Judge Carol Dimmick||Reagan||4/4/1985 - 11/1/1997||1994 - 1997||11/1/1997 - Present||University of Washington, B.A., 1951||University of Washington School of Law, J.D., 1953|
|Senior Judge Thomas Zilly||Reagan||4/20/1988 - 1/1/2004||1/1/2004 - Present||University of Michigan, B.A., 1956||Cornell Law School, J.D., 1962|
|Senior Judge Barbara Rothstein||Carter||2/20/1980 - 9/1/2011||1987 - 1994||9/1/2011 - Present||Cornell U., B.A., 1960||Harvard Law School, LL.B., 1966|
|Senior Judge Walter McGovern||Nixon||4/23/1971 - 9/30/1987||1975 - 1987||9/30/1987 - Present||University of Washington, B.A., 1949||University of Washington School of Law, LL.B., 1950|
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.
|(Recalled) Magistrate Judge Kelley Arnold||3/3/2009-Present|
|Magistrate Judge James Donohue||2/8/2005-Present||University of Illinois, A.B., 1973||University of California at Los Angeles, J.D., 1976|
|Chief Magistrate Judge Karen Strombom||4/1/2003-Present||University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, B.S., 1974||University of Wisconsin-Madison, J.D., 1978|
|Magistrate Judge Mary Alice Theiler||4/25/2003-Present|
|Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida||5/13/2008-Present||Grinnell College, B.A.||University of Oregon, J.D.|
|Magistrate Judge Dean Brett||6/23/2005-Present||Whitman College, 1968||Stanford Law, 1972|
|Magistrate judge David Christel||3/24/2007-Present||Washington State University||University of Washington Law, 1985|
|Magistrate Judge Richard Creatura||03/17/2009 - Present||Tufts U., B.A.||University of the Pacific Law, J.D., 1978|
|(Recalled) Magistrate Judge John Weinberg||1973-Present||Swarthmore College||University of Chicago Law|
The Western District of Washington has original jurisdiction over cases filed within its jurisdiction. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law.
The geographic jurisdiction of the Western District of Washington consists of all the following counties in the western part of the state of Washington. The court's headquarters are in Seattle, with a courthouse in Tacoma.
|Federal Court Caseload Statistics*|
|Year||Starting case load:||Cases filed:||Total cases:||Cases terminated:||Remaining cases:||Median time (Criminal)**:||Median time (Civil)**:||Three-year civil cases#:||Vacant posts:##||Trials/Post|
|*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website and reflect the calendar year through September.|
**Time in months from filing to completion.
For a searchable list of opinions, please see Justia.com Dockets and Filings.
|• Judge OKs elephant move (2015)||Click for summary→|
|Chai and Bamboo are Asian elephants living in captivity. They currently reside at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Woodland Park wants to "loan" the elephants to the Oklahoma City Zoo under the Association of Zoos and Aquarium barter program. When the Seattle-based Elephant Justice Project learned of the intended move, it filed for an injunction in both state and federal court, arguing that the elephants are endangered species and to move them requires a permit under the Endangered Species Act. Woodland Park responded that a permit was not necessary because the Endangered Species Act applies to commercial activity, and the loan of the elephants is not commercial.
Ultimately, Judge John Coughenour of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington agreed the elephants could be moved without a permit. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated no permit was needed. He said, however, that neither zoo was an appropriate place for the elephants; they could not provide the space or proper climate the elephants would have in the wild. Further, Chai and Bamboo would not be in a worse condition because of the move.
The company hired by Woodland Park to move Chai and Bamboo via flatbed truck from Seattle to Oklahoma City has moved nearly 90 elephants across the country with only one instance of death to an elephant. Judge Coughenour concluded he could not say with certainty that either elephant would be injured or die in the transit and, therefore, injunction was still not proper.
In the companion state case, that judge also denied the request for an injunction. When a notice of appeal was filed, however, the judge informed Woodland Park they could not yet remove the elephants to Oklahoma until that appeal is heard.
| • WaMu 401(k) case (2009)|
Judge(s):Marsha Pechman (IN RE WASHINGTON MUTUAL, INC. SECURITIES, DERIVATIVE AND ERISA LITIGATION, Nos. 2:08-md-01919-MJP, C07-1874 MJP)
|Click for summary→|
|In 2009, Judge Pechman presided in a case in which employees of Washington Mutual sued to recover lost funds from their 401(k) retirement accounts after JP Morgan Chase acquired the assets of Washington Mutual in 2008.
In October 2009, Judge Pechman ruled that JP Morgan Chase was not liable for the 401(k) accounts of Washington Mutual employees.A detailed description of the history of the case, as well as copies of all official court documents can be found here.
| • Washington R-71 (2009)|
Judge(s):Ronald Leighton (Family PAC v. Washington Public Disclosure Commission, 3:09-cv-05662-RBL)
|Click for summary→|
|Judge Leighton on October 27, 2009, ruled against Washington Family PAC in a lawsuit challenging Washington State's $5,000 in 21 days rule. The group sued the Washington Public Disclosure commission over the law that prohibits large contributions over $5,000 in the last three weeks of the election. The judge ruled that it was not in the court's best interest to change the rules of the game at the last minute.|
| • Glacier Northwest case (2009)|
Judge(s):Ricardo Martinez (Preserve Our Islands v. Shorelines Hearings Board, Nos. 55655-0-I, 55656-8-I)
|Click for summary→|
|On August 13, 2009, Judge Martinez ruled against Glacier Northwest to halt construction on a new pier project in Washington State which was deemed controversial. The judge found in his ruling that federal agencies did not enforce environmental laws when giving Glacier Northwest the permit to build the pier. The project was halted until federal agencies investigated the environmental impact towards Chinook Salmon and southern resident Orca whales which were on the federal endangered species list.|
| • Disability benefits case (2009)|
|Click for summary→|
|On September 5, 2009, Judge Jones ruled that the State of Washington must continue to issue benefits to over 1,000 disabled and elderly citizens. The judge found the state did not give proper notice to recipients who received benefits for social and medical therapy that their aid was going to be cut due to a budget shortfall. In the ruling, Judge Jones stated that the state violated due process rights, and told the state that they must respect every citizen's rights even in a budget crisis.|
| • R-71 signature release case (2009)|
Judge(s):Ben Settle ((dead link) Doe v. Reed, 3:09-cv-05456-BHS)
|Click for summary→|
|For more background information on R-71 please see Washington Referendum 71 (2009) on Ballotpedia.
On September 8, 2009, Judge Ben Settle ruled against a challenge from a gay rights groups in Washington. The group asked for the release of petition records signed in favor of R-71, which expanded the legal protections of domestic partners.Cite error: Invalid
The judge found that the methods the Washington Secretary of State's Office used to check the validity of the signatures were legal.Cite error: Invalid
Following the 2010 ruling by the United States Supreme Court in Doe v. Reed that made petition signatures public as per Washington's Public Records Act, anti-gay marriage advocates renewed efforts to prevent the names of people who signed the petition from being released. However, on October 17, 2011, Judge Settle ruled on the matter and determined that the signatures could be released. Later that day, Washington State officials released copies of petitions.Learn more about this story here.
The State of Washington was established by Congress as one judicial district on April 5, 1890 with one post to cover the entire state and it was assigned over to the Ninth Circuit. On March 2, 1905, the state of Washington was divided into two judicial districts, the Eastern District and the Western District, with a post assigned to each. The post existing before the division was assigned over to the Western District. Over time seven additional judicial posts were added for a total of eight current posts.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the Western District of Washington:
|April 5, 1890||26 Stat. 45||1|
|March 2, 1905||33 Stat. 824||1|
|March 2, 1909||35 Stat. 686||2|
|May 31, 1938||52 Stat. 585||3|
|May 19, 1961||75 Stat. 80||5|
|October 20, 1978||92 Stat. 1629||6|
|July 10, 1984||98 Stat. 333||7 (1 temporary)|
|December 1, 1990||104 Stat. 5089||8|
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.
For information on the judges of the Western District of Washington, see former federal judges of the Western District of Washington.
Two separate courthouses serve the Western District of Washington.
- News: Facebook teams up with Washington Attorney General to fight online spam, January 31, 2012
- United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- United States District Court for the Western District of Washington Official Website
- United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington Official Website
- Judges of the Western District of Washington
- Opinions of the Western District of Washington (dead link)
- Offices of the United States Attorneys, Official list
- Augusta Chronicle, "Judge in Seattle hears arguments over WaMu 401(k)s," August 9, 2009
- The Wall Street Job Report, "JP Morgan Chase cleared in 401(k) suit filed by Washington Mutual workers," October 8, 2009
- Seattle Post Intelligencer, "Federal judge rejects anti-gay rights group," October 27, 2009
- PWN Local News, "Federal judge rules against Glacier, halts pier project," August 19, 2009
- The Olympian, "Federal judge orders state benefits restored," September 6, 2009
- Associated Press, "State releases Referendum 71 petition names," October 17, 2011
- History of the Western District of Washington from the Federal Judicial Center
- United States Courts, "Frequently Asked Questions"
- United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009
|Magistrate judges||Kelley Arnold • James Donohue • Karen Strombom • Mary Alice Theiler • Brian Tsuchida • Dean Brett • David Christel • Richard Creatura • John Weinberg •|
|Former Article III judges||
Cornelius Holgate Hanford • Edward Cushman • George Donworth • Clinton Woodbury Howard • Jeremiah Neterer • Franklin Burgess • John Clyde Bowen • Lloyd Black • William Goodwin • William Lindberg • Jack Tanner • William Beeks • George Boldt • William Dwyer (Washington) • Charles Leavy • Morell Sharp • Donald Voorhees • Monica Benton •
|Former Chief judges|
State of Washington
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