United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Last updated
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
(5th Cir.)
Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.svg
Location John Minor Wisdom U.S. Court of Appeals Building
Appeals from
EstablishedJune 16, 1891
Circuit Justice Samuel Alito
Chief Judge Carl E. Stewart

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (in case citations, 5th Cir.) is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following federal judicial districts:


The court is one of 13 United States courts of appeals. Composed of 17 active judges, it is based at the John Minor Wisdom United States Court of Appeals Building in New Orleans, Louisiana, with the clerk's office located at the F. Edward Hebert Federal Building in New Orleans. [1]

History of the court

The John Minor Wisdom U.S. Courthouse, home of the Fifth Circuit, New Orleans. 053107-5thCircuit.jpg
The John Minor Wisdom U.S. Courthouse, home of the Fifth Circuit, New Orleans.

This court was created by the Evarts Act on June 16, 1891, which moved the circuit judges and appellate jurisdiction from the Circuit Courts of the Fifth Circuit to this court. At the time of its creation, the Fifth Circuit covered Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

On June 25, 1948, the Panama Canal Zone was added to the Fifth Circuit by 62 Stat. 870.

On October 1, 1981, under Pub.L.   96–452, the Fifth Circuit was split: Alabama, Georgia, and Florida were moved to the new Eleventh Circuit.

On March 31, 1982, the Fifth Circuit lost jurisdiction over the Panama Canal Zone, which was transferred to Panamanian control.

The Fifth Circuit Four

During the late 1950s, Chief Judge Elbert Tuttle and three of his colleagues (John Minor Wisdom, John Brown, and Richard Rives) became known as the "Fifth Circuit Four", or simply "The Four", for decisions crucial in advancing the civil rights of African Americans. In this, they were usually opposed by their fellow Fifth Circuit Judge, Benjamin F. Cameron of Mississippi, until his death in 1964. [2]

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans on August 29, 2005, devastating the city and slightly damaging the John Minor Wisdom Courthouse. All deadlines concerning filings were extended. The court temporarily relocated its administrative operations to Houston, but has since returned to normal operations in New Orleans.

Current composition of the court

As of July 18, 2018, the judges on the court are as follows: [3]

#TitleJudgeDuty stationBornTerm of serviceAppointed by
Active Chief Senior
71Chief Judge Carl E. Stewart Shreveport, LA 19501994–present2012–present Clinton
63Circuit Judge Edith Jones Houston, TX 19491985–present2006–2012 Reagan
64Circuit Judge Jerry Edwin Smith Houston, TX 19461987–present Reagan
73Circuit Judge James L. Dennis New Orleans, LA 19361995–present Clinton
77Circuit Judge Priscilla Owen Austin, TX 19542005–present G.W. Bush
78Circuit Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod Houston, TX 19662007–present G.W. Bush
79Circuit Judge Leslie H. Southwick Jackson, MS 19502007–present G.W. Bush
80Circuit Judge Catharina Haynes Dallas, TX 19632008–present G.W. Bush
81Circuit Judge James E. Graves Jr. Jackson, MS 19532011–present Obama
82Circuit Judge Stephen A. Higginson New Orleans, LA 19612011–present Obama
83Circuit Judge Gregg Costa Houston, TX 19722014–present Obama
84Circuit Judge Don Willett Austin, TX 19662018–present Trump
85Circuit Judge James C. Ho Dallas, TX 19732018–present Trump
86Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan Baton Rouge, LA 19722018–present Trump
87Circuit Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt New Orleans, LA 19602018–present Trump
88Circuit Judge Andy Oldham Austin, TX 19782018–present Trump
89Circuit Judgevacant
51Senior Circuit Judge Carolyn Dineen King Houston, TX 19381979–20131999–20062013–present Carter
53Senior Circuit Judge Thomas Morrow Reavley Houston, TX 19211979–19901990–present Carter
59Senior Circuit Judge E. Grady Jolly Jackson, MS 19371982–20172017–present Reagan
60Senior Circuit Judge Patrick Higginbotham Austin, TX 19381982–20062006–present Reagan
61Senior Circuit Judge W. Eugene Davis New Orleans, LA 19361983–20162016–present Reagan
65Senior Circuit Judge John Malcolm Duhé Jr. inactive19331988–19991999–present Reagan
66Senior Circuit Judge Rhesa Hawkins Barksdale Jackson, MS 19441990–20092009–present G.H.W. Bush
67Senior Circuit Judge Jacques L. Wiener Jr. New Orleans, LA 19341990–20102010–present G.H.W. Bush
70Senior Circuit Judge Fortunato Benavides Austin, TX 19471994–20122012–present Clinton
74Senior Circuit Judge Edith Brown Clement New Orleans, LA 19482001–20182018–present G.W. Bush

    Vacancies and pending nominations

    SeatPrior Judge's Duty StationSeat Last Held ByVacancy ReasonDate of VacancyNomineeDate of Nomination
    2 Jackson, MS E. Grady Jolly Senior status October 3, 2017

    List of former judges

    Appointed by
    Reason for
    1 Don Albert Pardee LA 1837–19191891–1919 [4] death
    2 Andrew Phelps McCormick TX 1832–19161892–1916 B. Harrison death
    3 David Davie Shelby AL 1847–19141899–1914 McKinley death
    4 Richard Wilde Walker Jr. AL 1857–19361914–19301930–1936 Wilson death
    5 Robert Lynn Batts TX 1864–19351917–1919 Wilson resignation
    6 Nathan Philemon Bryan FL 1872–19351920–1935 Wilson death
    7 Alexander Campbell King GA 1856–19261920–1924 Wilson resignation
    8 Rufus Edward Foster LA 1871–19421925–1942 Coolidge death
    9 Samuel Hale Sibley GA 1873–19581931–19491949–1958 Hoover death
    10 Joseph Chappell Hutcheson Jr. TX 1879–19731931–19641948–19591964–1973 Hoover death
    11 Edwin R. Holmes MS 1878–19611936–19541954–1961 F. Roosevelt death
    12 Leon Clarence McCord AL 1878–19521938–19511951–1952 F. Roosevelt death
    13 Curtis L. Waller FL 1887–19501943–1950 F. Roosevelt death
    14 Elmo Pearce Lee LA 1882–19491943–1949 F. Roosevelt death
    15 Wayne G. Borah LA 1891–19661949–19561956–1966 Truman death
    16 Robert Lee Russell GA 1900–19551949–1955 Truman death
    17 Louie Willard Strum FL 1890–19541950–1954 Truman death
    18 Richard Rives AL 1895–19821951–19661959–19601966–1981 Truman reassignment to 11th Cir.
    19 Elbert Tuttle GA 1897–19961954–19681960–19671968–1981 Eisenhower reassignment to 11th Cir.
    20 Benjamin Franklin Cameron MS 1890–19641955–1964 Eisenhower death
    21 Warren Leroy Jones FL 1895–19931955–19661966–1981 Eisenhower reassignment to 11th Cir.
    22 John Robert Brown TX 1909–19841955–19841967–19791984–1993 Eisenhower death
    23 John Minor Wisdom LA 1905–19991957–19771977–1999 Eisenhower death
    24 Griffin Bell GA 1918–20091961 [5] –1976 Kennedy resignation
    25 Walter Pettus Gewin AL 1908–19811961 [5] –19761976–1981 Kennedy death
    26 Homer Thornberry TX 1909–19951965–19781978–1995 L. Johnson death
    27 James P. Coleman MS 1914–19911965–19811979–19811981–1984 L. Johnson retirement
    28 Robert Andrew Ainsworth Jr. LA 1910–19811966–1981 L. Johnson death
    29 John Cooper Godbold AL 1920–20091966–19811981–1981 L. Johnson reassignment to 11th Cir.
    30 Irving Loeb Goldberg TX 1906–19951966–19801980–1995 L. Johnson death
    31 David W. Dyer FL 1910–19981966–19761976–1981 L. Johnson reassignment to 11th Cir.
    32 John Milton Bryan Simpson FL 1903–19871966–19751975–1981 L. Johnson reassignment to 11th Cir.
    33 Claude Feemster Clayton MS 1909–19691967–1969 L. Johnson death
    34 Lewis Render Morgan GA 1913–20011968–19781978–1981 L. Johnson reassignment to 11th Cir.
    35 G. Harrold Carswell FL 1919–19921969–1970 Nixon resignation
    36 Charles Clark MS 1925–20111969–19921981–1992 Nixon retirement
    37 Joe McDonald Ingraham TX 1903–19901969–19731973–1990 Nixon death
    38 Paul Hitch Roney FL 1921–20061970–1981 Nixon reassignment to 11th Cir.
    39 Thomas Gibbs Gee TX 1925–19941973–1991 Nixon retirement
    40 Gerald Bard Tjoflat FL 1929–present1975–1981 Ford reassignment to 11th Cir.
    41 James Clinkscales Hill GA 1924–20171976–1981 Ford reassignment to 11th Cir.
    42 Peter T. Fay FL 1929–present1976–1981 Ford reassignment to 11th Cir.
    43 Alvin Benjamin Rubin LA 1920–19911977–19891989–1991 Carter death
    44 Robert Smith Vance AL 1931–19891977–1981 Carter reassignment to 11th Cir.
    45 Phyllis A. Kravitch GA 1920–20171979–1981 Carter reassignment to 11th Cir.
    46 Frank Minis Johnson AL 1918–19991979–1981 Carter reassignment to 11th Cir.
    47 R. Lanier Anderson III GA 1936–present1979–1981 Carter reassignment to 11th Cir.
    48 Reynaldo Guerra Garza TX 1915–20041979–19821982–2004 Carter death
    49 Joseph W. Hatchett FL 1932–present1979–1981 Carter reassignment to 11th Cir.
    50 Albert John Henderson GA 1920–19991979–1981 Carter reassignment to 11th Cir.
    52 Henry Anthony Politz LA 1932–20021979–19991992–19991999–2002 Carter death
    54 Samuel D. Johnson Jr. TX 1920–20021979–19911991–2002 Carter death
    55 Albert Tate Jr. LA 1920–19861979–1986 Carter death
    56 Thomas Alonzo Clark GA 1920–20051979–1981 Carter reassignment to 11th Cir.
    57 Jerre Stockton Williams TX 1916–19931980–19901990–1993 Carter death
    58 William Lockhart Garwood TX 1931–20111981–19971997–2011 Reagan death
    62 Robert Madden Hill TX 1928–19871984–1987 Reagan death
    68 Emilio M. Garza TX 1947–present1991–20122012–2015 G.H.W. Bush retirement
    69 Harold R. DeMoss Jr. TX 1930–present1991–20072007–2015 G.H.W. Bush retirement
    72 Robert Manley Parker TX 1937–present1994–2002 Clinton retirement
    75 Edward C. Prado TX 1947–present2003–2018 G.W. Bush retirement
    76 Charles W. Pickering MS 1937–present2004 [6] G.W. Bush retirement

    Chief judges

    Chief Judge
    Hutcheson, Jr. 1948–1959
    Rives 1959–1960
    Tuttle 1960–1967
    Brown 1967–1979
    Coleman 1979–1981
    Godbold 1981
    C. Clark 1981–1992
    Politz 1992–1999
    C. King 1999–2006
    Jones 2006–2012
    Stewart 2012–present

    Chief judges have administrative responsibilities with respect to their circuits, and preside over any panel on which they serve unless the circuit justice (i.e., the Supreme Court justice responsible for the circuit) is also on the panel. Unlike the Supreme Court, where one justice is specifically nominated to be chief, the office of chief judge rotates among the circuit 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 court has had 29 seats for active judges. Twelve of these seats were reassigned to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, leaving a seventeen-seat court. The seats are numbered in the order in which they were filled. Judges who retire into senior status remain on the bench but leave their seat vacant. That seat is filled by the next circuit judge appointed by the president.

    See also


    1. "Practitioner's Guide to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-13. Retrieved 2011-06-26.
    2. "That Fascinating and Frenetic Fifth," Time Magazine, 1964-12-04.
    3. "U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit". Official website of the Federal Judicial Center. Archived from the original on March 26, 2005. Retrieved June 19, 2005.
    4. Pardee was appointed as a circuit judge for the Fifth Circuit in 1881 by James A. Garfield. The Judiciary Act of 1891 reassigned his seat to what is now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
    5. 1 2 Recess appointment, confirmed by the United States Senate at a later date.
    6. Recess appointment, never confirmed or rejected by the Senate.