United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri

The United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri (in case citations, W.D. Mo.) is the federal judicial district encompassing 66 counties in the western half of the State of Missouri. The Court is based in the Charles Evans Whittaker Courthouse in Kansas City.

United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri
(W.D. Mo.)
LocationKansas City
More locations
Appeals toEighth Circuit
EstablishedMarch 3, 1857
Chief JudgeMary Elizabeth Phillips
Officers of the court
U.S. AttorneyTimothy A. Garrison
U.S. MarshalMark S. James

The current United States Attorney is Timothy A. Garrison.


Charles Evans Whittaker Federal Courthouse

Missouri was admitted as a state on August 10, 1821, and the United States Congress established the United States District Court for the District of Missouri on March 16, 1822.[1][2][3] The District was assigned to the Eighth Circuit on March 3, 1837.[1][4] Congress subdivided it into Eastern and Western Districts on March 3, 1857.[1][5] and has since made only small adjustments to the boundaries of that subdivision. The division was prompted by a substantial increase in the number of admiralty cases arising from traffic on the Mississippi River, which had followed an act of Congress passed in 1845 and upheld by the United States Supreme Court in 1851, extending federal admiralty jurisdiction to inland waterways.[6] These disputes involved "contracts of affreightment, collisions, mariners' wages, and other causes of admiralty jurisdiction", and litigants of matters arising in St. Louis found it inconvenient to travel to Jefferson City for their cases to be tried.[6]

When the District of Missouri was subdivided, Robert William Wells was the sole judge serving the District of Missouri. Wells was then reassigned to serve only the Western District.[7]


The district is divided into five divisions: Western (Kansas City), Central (Jefferson City), Southern (Springfield), Southwestern (Joplin), and St. Joseph (St. Joseph). There are divisional clerk's Offices in Jefferson City and Springfield in addition to the primary office in Kansas City. New cases and pleadings in the District Court may be filed in the clerk's offices in Kansas City, Jefferson City, and Springfield; Bankruptcy Court filings, however, only are accepted in the Kansas City clerk's office. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit across Missouri in St. Louis has jurisdiction over decisions appealed from the Western District of Missouri (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit).

The five court divisions each cover the following counties:

The Western Division covers Bates, Carroll, Cass, Clay, Henry, Jackson, Johnson, Lafayette, Ray, St. Clair, and Saline counties.

The Central Division covers Benton, Boone, Callaway, Camden, Cole, Cooper, Hickory, Howard, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan, Osage, and Pettis counties.

The Southern Division covers Cedar, Christian, Dade, Dallas, Douglas, Greene, Howell, Laclede, Oregon, Ozark, Polk, Pulaski, Taney, Texas, Webster, and Wright counties.

The St. Joseph Division covers Andrew, Atchison, Buchanan, Caldwell, Clinton, Daviess, DeKalb, Gentry, Grundy, Harrison, Holt, Livingston, Mercer, Nodaway, Platte, Putnam, Sullivan, and Worth counties.

The Southwestern Division covers Barry, Barton, Jasper, Lawrence, McDonald, Newton, Stone, and Vernon counties.

Current judgesEdit

As of January 3, 2019:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
35 Chief Judge Mary Elizabeth Phillips Kansas City 1969 2012–present 2019–present Obama
32 District Judge Rodney W. Sippel[Note 1] None[Note 2] 1956 1997–present Clinton
34 District Judge David Gregory Kays Kansas City 1962 2008–present 2014–2019 G.W. Bush
36 District Judge Brian C. Wimes[Note 1] Kansas City 1966 2012–present Obama
37 District Judge M. Douglas Harpool Springfield 1956 2014–present Obama
38 District Judge Stephen R. Bough Kansas City 1970 2014–present Obama
39 District Judge Roseann A. Ketchmark Kansas City 1963 2015–present Obama
21 Senior Judge Howard F. Sachs Kansas City 1925 1979–1992 1990–1992 1992–present Carter
27 Senior Judge Dean Whipple Kansas City 1938 1987–2007 2000–2007 2007–present Reagan
28 Senior Judge Fernando J. Gaitan Jr. Kansas City 1948 1991–2014 2007–2014 2014–present G.H.W. Bush
29 Senior Judge Ortrie D. Smith Kansas City 1946 1995–2011 2011–present Clinton
30 Senior Judge Gary A. Fenner Kansas City 1947 1996–2015 2015–present Clinton
31 Senior Judge Nanette Kay Laughrey[Note 1] Jefferson City 1946 1996–2011 2011–present Clinton
  1. ^ a b c Jointly appointed to the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri
  2. ^ Judge Sippel maintains chambers only in the Eastern District.

Former judgesEdit

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Robert William Wells MO 1795–1864 1857–1864[Note 1] Operation of law death
2 Arnold Krekel MO 1815–1888 1865–1888 Lincoln retirement
3 John Finis Philips MO 1834–1919 1888–1910 Cleveland retirement
4 Arba Seymour Van Valkenburgh MO 1862–1944 1910–1925 Taft elevation to 8th Cir.
5 Albert L. Reeves MO 1873–1971 1923–1954 1948–1954 1954–1971 Harding death
6 Merrill E. Otis MO 1884–1944 1925–1944[Note 2] Coolidge death
7 John Caskie Collet MO 1898–1955 1937–1947[Note 3] F. Roosevelt elevation to 8th Cir.
8 Richard M. Duncan MO 1889–1974 1943–1965[Note 3] 1954–1959 1965–1974 F. Roosevelt death
9 Albert Alphonso Ridge MO 1898–1967 1945–1961 1959–1961 F. Roosevelt elevation to 8th Cir.
13 Roy Winfield Harper MO 1905–1994 1947[Note 4]
1947–1948[Note 5]
1948–1971[Note 6]
1971–1994 Truman
11 Charles Evans Whittaker MO 1901–1973 1954–1956 Eisenhower elevation to 8th Cir.
12 Randle Jasper Smith MO 1908–1962 1956–1962 1961–1962 Eisenhower death
13 Floyd Robert Gibson MO 1910–2001 1961–1965 1962–1965 Kennedy elevation to 8th Cir.
14 William Henry Becker MO 1909–1992 1961–1977 1965–1977 1977–1992 Kennedy death
15 John Watkins Oliver MO 1914–1990 1962–1980 1977–1980 1980–1990 Kennedy death
16 William Robert Collinson MO 1912–1995 1965–1980[Note 3] 1980–1995 L. Johnson death
17 Elmo Bolton Hunter MO 1915–2003 1965–1980 1980 1980–2003 L. Johnson death
18 Harris Kenneth Wangelin MO 1913–1987 1970–1983[Note 3] 1983–1987 Nixon death
19 Russell Gentry Clark MO 1925–2003 1977–1991 1980–1985 1991–2000 Carter retirement
20 Scott Olin Wright MO 1923–2016 1979–1991 1985–1990 1991–2016 Carter death
22 Joseph Edward Stevens, Jr. MO 1928–1998 1981–1995[Note 3] 1992–1995 1995–1998 Reagan death
23 D. Brook Bartlett MO 1937–2000 1981–2000 1995–2000 Reagan death
24 John R. Gibson MO 1925–2014 1981–1982 Reagan elevation to 8th Cir.
25 Ross Thompson Roberts MO 1938–1987 1982–1987 Reagan death
26 Stephen N. Limbaugh, Sr. MO 1927–present 1983–1996[Note 3] 1996–2008 Reagan retirement
33 Richard Everett Dorr MO 1943–2013 2002–2013 G.W. Bush death
  1. ^ Reassigned from the District of Missouri
  2. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 8, 1925, confirmed by the United States Senate on December 14, 1925, and received commission the same day
  3. ^ a b c d e f Jointly appointed to the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri
  4. ^ Recess appointment; not confirmed by the Senate
  5. ^ Received a second recess appointment and was again again rejected by the Senate
  6. ^ Received a third recess appointment; formally nominated on January 13, 1949, confirmed by the Senate on January 31, 1949, and received commission on February 2, 1949

Chief judgesEdit

Chief judges have administrative responsibilities with respect to their district court. Unlike the Supreme Court, where one justice is specifically nominated to be chief, the office of chief judge rotates among the district court 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

United States AttorneysEdit

Recent, former U.S. attorneys for the district

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c U.S. District Courts of Missouri, Legislative history, Federal Judicial Center.
  2. ^ 3 Stat. 653.
  3. ^ Dickens, Asbury (1852). Synoptical Index to the Laws and Treaties of the United States of America. Boston: Little, Brown and company. p. 393.
  4. ^ 5 Stat. 176.
  5. ^ 11 Stat. 197.
  6. ^ a b Broadhead, James O. (March 5, 1887). "Address of Col. J. O. Broadhead". In Bar Association of St. Louis (ed.). Proceedings of the Saint Louis bar on the retirement of Hon. Samuel Treat. St. Louis: Nixon-Jones printing co. pp. 10–17.
  7. ^ "Robert William Wells". Biographical Directory of Federal Judges. Federal Judicial Center. Archived from the original on May 13, 2009. Retrieved April 16, 2009.

External linksEdit