United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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:

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
(1st Cir.)
Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.svg
1st Circuit map.svg
LocationJohn Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse
Appeals from
EstablishedJune 16, 1891
Circuit JusticeStephen Breyer
Chief JudgeJeffrey R. Howard

The court is based at the John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts. Most sittings are held in Boston, where the court usually sits for one week most months of the year; in one of July or August, it takes a summer break and does not sit. The First Circuit also sits for one week each March and November at the Jose V. Toledo Federal Building and United States Courthouse in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, and occasionally sits at other locations within the circuit.[1]

With six active judges and four active senior judges, the First Circuit is the smallest of the thirteen United States courts of appeals. Since retiring from the United States Supreme Court, Associate Justice David Souter regularly sits on the First Circuit by designation.

Current composition of the courtEdit

As of August 17, 2020:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
29 Chief Judge Jeffrey R. Howard Concord, NH 1955 2002–present 2015–present G.W. Bush
21 Circuit Judge Juan R. Torruella San Juan, PR 1933 1984–present 1994–2001 Reagan
27 Circuit Judge Sandra Lynch Boston, MA 1946 1995–present 2008–2015 Clinton
30 Circuit Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson Providence, RI 1951 2010–present Obama
31 Circuit Judge William J. Kayatta Jr. Portland, ME 1953 2013–present Obama
32 Circuit Judge David Jeremiah Barron Boston, MA 1967 2014–present Obama
18 Senior Circuit Judge Levin H. Campbell inactive 1927 1972–1992 1983–1990 1992–present Nixon
22 Senior Circuit Judge Bruce M. Selya Providence, RI 1934 1986–2006 2006–present Reagan
25 Senior Circuit Judge Michael Boudin Boston, MA 1939 1992–2013 2001–2008 2013–present G.H.W. Bush
26 Senior Circuit Judge Norman H. Stahl Boston, MA 1931 1992–2001 2001–present G.H.W. Bush
28 Senior Circuit Judge Kermit Lipez Portland, ME 1941 1998–2011 2011–present Clinton

List of former judgesEdit

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 LeBaron B. Colt RI 1846–1924 1891–1913[Note 1] Arthur resignation
2 William LeBaron Putnam ME 1835–1918 1892–1917 B. Harrison retirement
3 Francis Cabot Lowell MA 1855–1911 1905–1911 T. Roosevelt death
4 William Schofield MA 1857–1912 1911–1912 Taft death
5 Frederic Dodge MA 1847–1927 1912–1918 Taft resignation
6 George Hutchins Bingham NH 1864–1949 1913–1939 1939–1949 Wilson death
7 Charles Fletcher Johnson ME 1859–1930 1917–1929 1929–1930 Wilson death
8 George Weston Anderson MA 1861–1938 1918–1931 1931–1938 Wilson death
9 Scott Wilson ME 1870–1942 1929–1940 1940–1942 Hoover death
10 James Madison Morton Jr. MA 1869–1940 1932–1939 1939–1940 Hoover death
11 Calvert Magruder MA 1893–1968 1939–1959 1948–1959 1959–1968 F. Roosevelt death
12 John Christopher Mahoney RI 1882–1952 1940–1950 1950–1952 F. Roosevelt death
13 Peter Woodbury NH 1899–1970 1941–1964 1959–1964 1964–1970 F. Roosevelt death
14 John Patrick Hartigan RI 1887–1968 1950–1965 1965–1968 Truman death
15 Bailey Aldrich MA 1907–2002 1959–1972 1965–1972 1972–2002 Eisenhower death
16 Edward Matthew McEntee RI 1906–1981 1965–1976 1976–1981 L. Johnson death
17 Frank M. Coffin ME 1919–2009 1965–1989 1972–1983 1989–2009 L. Johnson death
19 Hugh Henry Bownes NH 1920–2003 1977–1990 1990–2003 Carter death
20 Stephen Breyer MA 1938–present 1980–1994 1990–1994 Carter elevation to Supreme Court
23 Conrad K. Cyr ME 1931–2016 1989–1997 1997–2016 G.H.W. Bush death
24 David Souter NH 1939–present 1990 G.H.W. Bush elevation to Supreme Court
  1. ^ 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.

Chief judgesEdit

Chief Judge
Magruder 1948–1959
Woodbury 1959–1964
Aldrich 1965–1972
Coffin 1972–1983
Campbell 1983–1990
Breyer 1990–1994
Torruella 1994–2001
Boudin 2001–2008
Lynch 2008–2015
Howard 2015–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 seatsEdit

The court has six seats for active judges, numbered in the order in which they were initially filled. Judges who assume senior status enter a kind of retirement in which they remain on the bench, while vacating their seats, thus allowing the president to appoint new judges to fill their seats.

Notable decisionsEdit

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

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Court Calendar". United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Retrieved October 26, 2012. In January through June, and October through December, the Court usually sits for one week starting on the first Monday of the month. In either July or August, the court sits for one week. In September, the Court starts on the Wednesday after Labor Day and sits for the 3 days in that week and the 5 days in the following week. In November and March the court sits two weeks, with one week in Boston and one week in Puerto Rico. Court sittings are held in the morning, typically between 9:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
  • Dargo, George (1993). A History of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit: Volume I, 1891–1960.

External linksEdit