United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
(1st Cir.)
Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
Location John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse
Boston, Massachusetts
Appeals from
Established June 16, 1891
Chief judge Sandra Lynch
Active judges 6
Senior judges 3 & Retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court David Souter
Official site

The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (in case citations, 1st Cir.) is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:

  • District of Maine
  • District of Massachusetts
  • District of New Hampshire
  • District of Puerto Rico
  • District of Rhode Island

The court is based at the John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts. Most sittings are held in Boston, but the court sits for two weeks each year in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico and occasionally at other locations within the circuit.

With six active and three senior judges, the First Circuit is the smallest of the thirteen United States courts of appeals. Since retiring as an active Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Associate Justice David Souter has sat on the First Circuit by designation in several cases.


Current composition of the court


As of March 17, 2010 (2010 -03-17), the active judges on the court are as follows[1]:

# Judge Duty station[2] Born Appointed Chief Appointed by
27 Sandra Lynch Boston, MA 1946 1995 2008–  Clinton
21 Juan R. Torruella San Juan, PR 1933 1984 1994–2001 Reagan
25 Michael Boudin Boston, MA 1939 1992 2001–2008 G.H.W. Bush
28 Kermit Lipez Portland, ME 1941 1998 —— Clinton
29 Jeffrey R. Howard Concord, NH 1955 2002 —— G.W. Bush
30 O. Rogeriee Thompson Providence, RI 1951 2010 —— Obama

Judge Kermit Lipez has announced that he will assume senior status on Dec 31, 2011 or when his successor is confirmed.


Three judges currently serve on the court on senior status.[1] Additionally, Retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter frequently sits by designation.[3]

# Judge Duty station[2] Born Active service Chief Senior
Appointed by
18 Levin H. Campbell (inactive) 1927 1972–1992 1983–1990 1992 Nixon
22 Bruce M. Selya Providence, RI 1934 1986–2006 —— 2006 Reagan
23 Conrad K. Cyr (inactive) 1931 1989–1997 —— 1997 G.H.W. Bush
26 Norman H. Stahl Boston, MA 1931 1992-2001 —— 2001 G.H.W. Bush

List of former judges

Twenty-one judges have served on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, but no longer do[1]:

# Judge
Appointed by
Reason for
1 Colt, LeBaron B.LeBaron B. Colt RI 1846–1924 1891–1913 —— —— Arthur[4] resignation
2 Putnam, William LeBaronWilliam LeBaron Putnam ME 1835–1918 1892–1917 —— —— Harrison, B.B. Harrison retirement
3 Lowell, Francis CabotFrancis Cabot Lowell MA 1855–1911 1905–1911 —— —— T. RooseveltT. Roosevelt death
4 Schofield, WilliamWilliam Schofield MA 1857–1912 1911–1912 —— —— Taft, Taft death
5 Dodge, FredericFrederic Dodge MA 1847–1927 1912–1918 —— —— Taft, Taft resignation
6 Bingham, George HutchinsGeorge Hutchins Bingham NH 1864–1949 1913–1939 —— 1939–1949 Wilson, Wilson death
7 Johnson, Charles FletcherCharles Fletcher Johnson ME 1859–1930 1917–1929 —— 1929–1930 Wilson, Wilson death
8 Anderson, George WestonGeorge Weston Anderson MA 1861–1938 1918–1931 —— 1931–1938 Wilson, Wilson death
9 Wilson, ScottScott Wilson ME 1870–1942 1929–1940 —— 1940–1942 Hoover, Hoover death
10 Morton, Jr., James MadisonJames Madison Morton, Jr. MA 1869–1940 1932–1939 —— 1939–1940 Hoover, Hoover death
11 Magruder, CalvertCalvert Magruder MA 1893–1968 1939–1959 1948–1959 1959–1968 Roosevelt, F.F. Roosevelt death
12 Mahoney, John ChristopherJohn Christopher Mahoney RI 1882–1952 1940–1950 —— 1950–1952 Roosevelt, F.F. Roosevelt death
13 Woodbury, PeterPeter Woodbury NH 1899–1970 1941–1964 1959–1964 1964–1970 Roosevelt, F.F. Roosevelt death
14 Hartigan, John PatrickJohn Patrick Hartigan RI 1887–1968 1950–1965 —— 1965–1968 Truman Truman death
15 Aldrich, BaileyBailey Aldrich MA 1907–2002 1959–1972 1965–1972 1972–2002 Eisenhower, Eisenhower death
16 McEntee, Edward MatthewEdward Matthew McEntee RI 1906–1981 1965–1976 —— 1976–1981 Johnson, L.L. Johnson death
17 Coffin, Frank M.Frank M. Coffin ME 1919–2009 1965–1989 1972–1983 1989–2009 Johnson, L.L. Johnson death
19 Bownes, Hugh HenryHugh Henry Bownes NH 1920–2003 1977–1990 —— 1990–2003 Carter, Carter death
20 Breyer, StephenStephen Breyer MA 1938– 1980–1994 1990–1994 —— Carter, Carter elevation to Supreme Court
24 Souter, DavidDavid Souter NH 1939– 1990 —— —— Bush, G.H.W.G.H.W. Bush elevation to Supreme Court

Chief judges

Chief Judges
Magruder 1948–1959
Woodbury 1959–1964
Aldrich 1965–1972
Coffin 1972–1983
Campbell 1983–1990
Breyer 1990–1994
Torruella 1994–2001
Boudin 2001–2008

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 chief after turning 70 years old. The current rules have been in operation since October 1, 1982.

Succession of seats

The court has six seats for active judges, 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.

Seat 1
Established on December 10, 1869 by the Judiciary Act of 1869 as a circuit judgeship for the First Circuit
Reassigned on June 16, 1891 to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit by the Judiciary Act of 1891
Colt RI 1891–1913
Bingham NH 1913–1939
Magruder MA 1939–1959
Aldrich MA 1959–1972
Campbell MA 1972–1992
Boudin MA 1992–present
Seat 2
Established on June 16, 1891 by the Judiciary Act of 1891
Putnam ME 1892–1917
Johnson ME 1917–1929
Wilson ME 1929–1940
Woodbury NH 1941–1964
McEntee RI 1965–1976
Bownes NH 1977–1990
Souter NH 1990–1990
Stahl NH 1992–2001
Howard NH 2002–present
Seat 3
Established on January 21, 1905 by 33 Stat. 611
Lowell MA 1905–1911
Schofield MA 1911–1912
Dodge MA 1912–1918
Anderson MA 1918–1931
Morton MA 1932–1939
Mahoney RI 1940–1950
Hartigan RI 1950–1965
Coffin ME 1965–1989
Cyr ME 1989–1997
Lipez ME 1998–present
Seat 4
Established on October 20, 1978 by 92 Stat. 1629
Breyer MA 1980–1994
Lynch MA 1995–present
Seat 5
Established on July 10, 1984 by 98 Stat. 333
Torruella PR 1984–present
Seat 6
Established on July 10, 1984 by 98 Stat. 333
Selya RI 1986–2006
Thompson RI 2010–present

Notable decisions

  • West v. Randall (1820), one of the first decisions setting precedent for class action suits

See also

  • Federal judicial appointment history#First Circuit
  • Courts of the United States
  • List of United States federal courthouses in the First Circuit


  1. ^ a b c "U. S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit". Official website of the Federal Judicial Center. Archived from the original on December 31, 2004. http://web.archive.org/web/20041231131050/http://www.fjc.gov/history/home.nsf/usca_01_frm?OpenFrameSet. Retrieved May 29, 2005. 
  2. ^ a b "Judges". Official website of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. http://www.ca1.uscourts.gov/judges.htm. Retrieved July 1, 2004. 
  3. ^ http://www.ca1.uscourts.gov/files/calendar/calendar.pdf
  4. ^ Colt was appointed as a circuit judge for the First Circuit in 1884 by Chester A. Arthur. The Judiciary Act of 1891 reassigned his seat to what is now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
  • Dargo, George (1993). A History of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit: Volume I, 1891–1960. 

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