United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (in case citations, 10th Cir.) is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:

  • District of Colorado
  • District of Kansas
  • District of New Mexico
  • Eastern District of Oklahoma
  • Northern District of Oklahoma
  • Western District of Oklahoma
  • District of Utah
  • District of Wyoming

These districts were part of the Eighth Circuit until 1929. The court is composed of twelve active judges and is based at the Byron White U.S. Courthouse in Denver, Colorado. It is one of thirteen United States courts of appeals.



U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, as it appeared around 1916.
The Byron White U.S. Courthouse, the seat of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, as it appears today.

Congress created a new judicial circuit in 1929 to accommodate the increased caseload in the federal courts. Between 1866 and 1912, twelve new states had entered the Union and been incorporated into the Eighth and Ninth Circuits. The Eighth Circuit encompassed 13 states and had become the largest in the nation.[1]

Chief Justice William Howard Taft suggested the reorganization of the Eight Circuit Court in response to widespread opposition in 1928 to a proposal to reorganize the nation's entire circuit structure. The original plan had sprung from an American Bar Association committee in 1925 and would have changed the composition of all but two circuits.[1]

The House of Representatives considered two proposals to divide the existing Eighth Circuit. A bill by Representative Walter Newton would separate the circuit’s eastern and western states. An alternate proposal divided the northern from the southern states. With the judges and bar of the existing Eighth Circuit for Newton's bill and little opposition to dividing the circuit, lawmakers focused on providing for more judgeships and meeting places of the circuit courts of appeals in their deliberations.[1]

Congress passed a statute that placed Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, and Arkansas in the Eighth Circuit and created a Tenth Circuit that included Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Three additional judgeships were authorized and the sitting circuit judges were reassigned according to their residence. The Tenth Circuit was assigned a total of four judgeships.[2]

Current composition of the court

As of June 1, 2011 (2011 -06-01), the judges on the court are:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
30 Chief Judge Mary Beck Briscoe Lawrence, KS 1947 1995–present 2010–present Clinton
28 Circuit Judge Paul Joseph Kelly, Jr. Santa Fe, NM 1940 1992–present (none) G.H.W. Bush
31 Circuit Judge Carlos F. Lucero Denver, CO 1940 1995–present (none) Clinton
32 Circuit Judge Michael R. Murphy Salt Lake City, UT 1947 1995–present (none) Clinton
33 Circuit Judge Harris L. Hartz Albuquerque, NM 1947 2001–present (none) G.W. Bush
34 Circuit Judge Terrence L. O'Brien Cheyenne, WY 1943 2002–present (none) G.W. Bush
36 Circuit Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich Denver, CO 1956 2003–present (none) G.W. Bush
37 Circuit Judge Neil M. Gorsuch Denver, CO 1967 2006–present (none) G.W. Bush
38 Circuit Judge Jerome A. Holmes Oklahoma City, OK 1961 2006–present (none) G.W. Bush
39 Circuit Judge Scott Matheson, Jr. Salt Lake City, UT 1953 2010–present (none) Obama
Circuit Judge (vacant seat 7) (n/a) (n/a) (n/a) (n/a) (n/a) (n/a)
Circuit Judge (vacant seat 10) (n/a) (n/a) (n/a) (n/a) (n/a) (n/a)
15 Senior Circuit Judge William Judson Holloway, Jr. Oklahoma City, OK 1923 1968–1992 1984–1991 1992–present L. Johnson
16 Senior Circuit Judge Robert Hugh McWilliams, Jr. Denver, CO 1916 1970–1984 (none) 1984–present Nixon
19 Senior Circuit Judge Monroe G. McKay Salt Lake City, UT 1928 1977–1993 1991–1993 1993–present Carter
21 Senior Circuit Judge Stephanie Kulp Seymour Tulsa, OK 1940 1979–2005 1994–2000 2005–present Carter
22 Senior Circuit Judge John Carbone Porfilio[3] Loveland, CO 1934 1985–1999 (none) 1999–present Reagan
23 Senior Circuit Judge Stephen Hale Anderson Salt Lake City, UT 1932 1985–2000 (none) 2000–present Reagan
25 Senior Circuit Judge Bobby Ray Baldock Roswell, NM 1936 1985–2001 (none) 2001–present Reagan
26 Senior Circuit Judge Wade Brorby Cheyenne, WY 1934 1988–2001 (none) 2001–present Reagan
27 Senior Circuit Judge David M. Ebel Denver, CO 1940 1988–2006[4] (none) 2006–present Reagan

Vacancies and pending nominations

Seat Seat Last Held By Vacancy Reason Date of Vacancy Nominee Date of Nomination
7 Robert Harlan Henry Resignation[5] June 30, 2010 —— ——
10 Deanell Reece Tacha Senior status January 27, 2011 Stephen Six March 9, 2011

List of former judges

# Judge State Born/Died Active service Term as Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Lewis, Robert E.Robert E. Lewis CO 1857–1941 1929–1940 (none) 1940–1941 [6] death
2 Cotteral, John HazeltonJohn Hazelton Cotteral OK 1864–1933 1929–1933 (none) (none) [7] death
3 Phillips, Orie LeonOrie Leon Phillips NM 1885–1974 1929–1956 1948–1956 1956–1974 Hoover, Hoover death
4 McDermott, George ThomasGeorge Thomas McDermott KS 1886–1937 1929–1937 (none) (none) Hoover, Hoover death
5 Bratton, Sam GilbertSam Gilbert Bratton NM 1888–1963 1933–1961 1956–1959 1961–1963 Roosevelt, F.F. Roosevelt death
6 Williams, Robert L.Robert L. Williams OK 1868–1948 1937–1939 (none) 1939–1948 Roosevelt, F.F. Roosevelt death
7 Huxman, Walter AugustWalter August Huxman KS 1887–1972 1939–1957 (none) 1957–1972 Roosevelt, F.F. Roosevelt death
8 Murrah, Alfred PaulAlfred Paul Murrah OK 1904–1975 1940–1970 1959–1970 1970–1975 Roosevelt, F.F. Roosevelt death
9 Pickett, John ColemanJohn Coleman Pickett WY 1896–1983 1949–1966 (none) 1966–1983 Truman, Truman death
10 Lewis, David ThomasDavid Thomas Lewis UT 1912–1983 1956–1977 1970–1977 1977–1983 Eisenhower, Eisenhower death
11 Breitenstein, Jean SalaJean Sala Breitenstein CO 1900–1986 1957–1970 (none) 1970–1986 Eisenhower, Eisenhower death
12 Hill, Delmas CarlDelmas Carl Hill KS 1906–1989 1961–1977 (none) 1977–1989 Kennedy, Kennedy death
13 Seth, OliverOliver Seth NM 1915–1996 1962–1984 1977–1984 1984–1996 Kennedy, Kennedy death
14 Hickey, John JosephJohn Joseph Hickey WY 1911–1970 1966–1970 (none) (none) Johnson, L.L. Johnson death
17 Barrett, James EmmettJames Emmett Barrett WY 1922-2011 1971–1987 (none) 1987–2000 Nixon retirement
18 Doyle, William EdwardWilliam Edward Doyle CO 1911–1986 1971–1984 (none) 1984–1986 Nixon, Nixon death
20 Logan, James KennethJames Kenneth Logan KS 1929–present 1977–1994 (none) 1994–1998 Carter, Carter retirement
24 Tacha, Deanell ReeceDeanell Reece Tacha KS 1946-present 1985–2011 2001–2008 2011 Reagan retirement
29 Henry, Robert HarlanRobert Harlan Henry OK 1953–present 1994–2010 2008–2010 (none) Clinton, Clinton resignation
35 McConnell, Michael W.Michael W. McConnell UT 1955–present 2002–2009 (none) (none) G.W. Bush, G.W. Bush resignation

Chief judges

Chief Judge
Phillips 1948–1956
Bratton 1956–1959
Murrah 1959–1970
Lewis 1970–1977
Seth 1977–1984
Holloway 1984–1991
McKay 1991–1993
Seymour 1994–2000
Tacha 2001–2008
Henry 2008–2010
Briscoe 2010–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 chief after turning 70 years old. The current rules have been in operation since October 1, 1982.

Succession of seats

The court has twelve 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 Eighth Circuit
Reassigned on June 16, 1891 to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit by the Judiciary Act of 1891
Reassigned on February 28, 1929 to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit by 45 Stat. 1346
R. Lewis CO 1929–1940
Murrah OK 1940–1970
Doyle CO 1971–1984
Ebel CO 1988–2006
Gorsuch CO 2006–present
Seat 2
Established on June 16, 1891 by the Judiciary Act of 1891 as a seat of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Reassigned on February 28, 1929 to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit by 45 Stat. 1346
Cotteral OK 1929–1933
Bratton NM 1933–1961
Seth NM 1962–1984
Baldock NM 1985–2001
Hartz NM 2001–present
Seat 3
Established on February 28, 1929 by 45 Stat. 1346
Phillips NM 1929–1956
D. Lewis UT 1956–1977
McKay UT 1977–1993
Murphy UT 1995–present
Seat 4
Established on February 28, 1929 by 45 Stat. 1346
McDermott KS 1929–1937
Williams OK 1937–1939
Huxman KS 1939–1957
Breitenstein CO 1957–1970
McWilliams CO 1970–1984
Porfilio CO 1985–1999
Tymkovich CO 2003–present
Seat 5
Established on August 3, 1949 by 63 Stat. 493
Pickett WY 1949–1966
Hickey WY 1966–1970
Barrett WY 1971–1987
Brorby WY 1988–2001
O'Brien WY 2002–present
Seat 6
Established on May 19, 1961 by 75 Stat. 80
Hill KS 1961–1977
Logan KS 1977–1994
Briscoe KS 1995–present
Seat 7
Established on June 18, 1968 by 82 Stat. 184
Holloway OK 1968–1992
Henry OK 1994–2010
(vacant) (n/a) 2010–present
Seat 8
Established on October 20, 1978 by 92 Stat. 1629
Seymour OK 1979–2005
Holmes OK 2006–present
Seat 9
Established on July 10, 1984 by 98 Stat. 333
Anderson UT 1985–2000
McConnell UT 2002–2009
Matheson UT 2010–present
Seat 10
Established on July 10, 1984 by 98 Stat. 333
Tacha KS 1985–2011
(vacant) (n/a) 2011–present
Seat 11
Established on December 1, 1990 by 104 Stat. 5089
Kelly NM 1992–present
Seat 12
Established on December 1, 1990 by 104 Stat. 5089
Lucero CO 1995–present

See also

  • Federal judicial appointment history of the Tenth Circuit

See also


  1. ^ a b c Establishment of the Tenth Judicial Circuit: "An Act To amend sections 116, 118, 126 of the Judicial Code, as amended, to divide the eighth judicial circuit of the United States, and to create a tenth judicial circuit." Federal Judiciary History. FJC.gov. Retrieved 24 September 2009.
  2. ^ "Tenth Circuit Act of 1929". Official website of the Federal Judicial Center. Archived from the original on 2006-09-26. http://web.archive.org/web/20060926090047/http://www.fjc.gov/history/home.nsf/page/16a_bdy. Retrieved 2006-10-20. 
  3. ^ Prior to January 8, 1996, Judge Porfilio was named John Porfilio Moore.
  4. ^ "Federal Judiciary - Judicial Vacancies". Official website of the Alliance for Justice. Archived from the original on February 24, 2006. http://web.archive.org/web/20060224041807/http://www.afj.org/judicial/judicial_selection_resources/selection_database/judicialVacancies.asp. Retrieved March 16, 2006. 
  5. ^ CA10.uscourts.gov
  6. ^ Lewis was appointed to the bench of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in 1921 by Warren G. Harding. 45 Stat. 1346 reassigned his seat to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
  7. ^ Cotteral was appointed to the bench of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in 1928 by Calvin Coolidge. 45 Stat. 1346 reassigned his seat to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.


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