United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
(E.D. Mo.)
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Appeals to: Eighth Circuit
Established: March 3, 1857
Judges assigned: 9[Note 1]
Chief Judge: Rodney W. Sippel

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri is a trial level federal district court based in St. Louis, Missouri, with jurisdiction over fifty counties in the eastern half of Missouri. The court is one of ninety-four district-level courts which make up the first tier of the U.S. federal judicial system. Judges of this court preside over civil and criminal trials on federal matters that originate within the borders of its jurisdiction. It is organized into three divisions, with court held in St. Louis, Hannibal, and Cape Girardeau.[1]

The court was formed when the District of Missouri was divided into East and West in 1857, and its boundaries have changed little since that division.[2] In its history it has heard a number of important cases that made it to the United States Supreme Court, covering issues related to freedom of speech, abortion, property rights, and campaign finance. There are currently nine active judges, five judges in senior status, and seven magistrate judges attached to the court.

The current United States Attorney is Richard G. Callahan.[3]

Mandate and jurisdiction

As a United States district court, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri conducts civil trials and issues orders. The cases it hears concern either federal question jurisdiction, where a federal law or treaty is applicable, or diversity jurisdiction, where parties are domiciled in different states. The court also holds criminal trials of persons charged with violations of federal law. Appeals from cases brought in the Eastern District of Missouri are heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit). These cases can then be appealed to the United States Supreme Court.[4]

The Court is based in St. Louis but is organized into three divisions: Eastern, Northern, and Southeastern.[1]

The court for the Eastern division is held in downtown St. Louis, in the Thomas F. Eagleton United States Courthouse, where the St. Louis Clerk's Office is located.[5] It covers the counties of Crawford, Dent, Franklin, Gasconade, Jefferson, Lincoln, Maries, Phelps, Saint Charles, Saint Francois, Saint Louis, Warren, Washington, and the independent City of St. Louis.[1]

The Northern division is based in Hannibal, Missouri, but its office is unstaffed unless court is being held there. It covers the counties of Adair, Audrain, Chariton, Clark, Knox, Lewis, Linn, Macon, Marion, Monroe, Montgomery, Pike, Ralls, Randolph, Schuyler, Shelby, and Scotland.

The Southeastern division is based at Cape Girardeau. Its courthouse is named for Rush Limbaugh, Sr.[6] That division's jurisdiction covers Bollinger, Butler, Cape Girardeau, Carter, Dunklin, Iron, Madison, Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot, Perry, Reynolds, Ripley, Sainte Genevieve, Scott, Shannon, Stoddard, and Wayne counties.[1]


The Old Courthouse of St. Louis, where the court met prior to 1884, as it appears today.
From 1884 to 1935, the court met at the U.S. Custom House and Post Office of St. Louis.


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.[2][7][8] The District was assigned to the Eighth Circuit on March 3, 1837.[2][9] Congress subdivided it into Eastern and Western Districts on March 3, 1857.[2][10] 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.[11] 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.[11]

Samuel Treat was the first judge to serve Missouri's Eastern District.

When the District of Missouri was subdivided, Robert William Wells, who was the sole judge serving the District of Missouri at the time of the division, was reassigned to the Western District,[12] allowing President Franklin Pierce to appoint Samuel Treat as the first judge for the Eastern District of Missouri.[13] The court was initially authorized to meet in St. Louis, which had previously been one of the two authorized meeting places of the District Court for the District of Missouri.[14] It met for a time at the landmark courthouse shared with Missouri state courts, which was the tallest building in the state during that period. For the first thirty years of its existence, the court was primarily concerned with admiralty and maritime cases, including maritime insurance claims.[11]

Civil War and aftermath

Within a few years of the court's establishment, the American Civil War erupted, and Missouri was placed under martial law.[15] Missouri was a border state with sharply divided loyalties among its citizenry, resulting in the imposition of stern controls from the Union government, including the imprisonment of large number of Missouri militiamen.[15] When the District, by the hand of Judge Treat, issued a writ of habeas corpus for the release of one of them, Captain Emmett McDonald, Union commanding general William S. Harney refused, asserting that he had to answer to a "higher law".[15] A substantial portion of the court's docket in this period came from tax cases:[11]

when the Civil War came it brought in its train a new class of cases, arising from the violation of treasury regulations, and proceedings to enforce the internal revenue law in all its complex and multiplied divisions and subdivisions. When whisky and tobacco, and net income, and gross receipts, and manufactories, and occupations, and legacies, and bonds, and notes, and conveyances, and drugs and medicines, and other innumerable things, were taxed by the Federal government, and each one had a separate code of laws of its own...[11]

The court, in this time, also tried numerous criminal cases arising from efforts to evade the tax laws through smuggling and fraud.[11] Following the Civil War, and in response to the economic disruption it had caused, Congress enacted the Bankruptcy Act of 1867.[16] Between its enactment and its subsequent repeal in 1878, the Act caused "countless controversies" arising in bankruptcy to be brought before the District Court.[11] Despite the turmoil inflicted by the Civil War, Missouri experienced a population boom, becoming the fifth largest state in the U.S. by 1890, and having a busy court docket which reflected this population growth.[17]

Further division and expansion

Rush Hudson Limbaugh Sr. Courthouse, Southeastern Division

In 1887 a Congressional Act divided the Eastern District into the Northern and Eastern Divisions of the Eastern District. The courts of the Eastern Division continued to be held at the U.S. Custom House and Post Office in St. Louis,[18] while the courts of the Northern Division were moved to the U.S. Post Office at Hannibal, Missouri, where they met until 1960.[14][19] These two courts, along with the four courts of the Western District, made six courts for the state, and at the time no other state had so many separate federal courts.[20] The district has since been further divided into the Eastern, Northern, and Southeast divisions.[1]

In 1888, Audrain County, Missouri was moved from the Eastern to the Western District. In 1897, it was moved back to the Eastern district.[20] In 1891, the United States circuit courts were eliminated in favor of the new United States courts of appeals. When the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit heard its first case, on October 12, 1891, the presiding judge Henry Clay Caldwell was joined by two district court judges from within the jurisdiction of the Circuit. One of those was Amos Madden Thayer of the Eastern District of Missouri.[17] Thayer would later be appointed to the Eight Circuit in his own right.

The court was authorized to meet in Cape Girardeau beginning in 1905,[14] and from 1910 to 1920 was additionally authorized to meet in Rolla, Missouri.[14] On September 14, 1922,[21] an additional temporary judgeship was authorized for each district of Missouri, and on August 19, 1935,[22] these temporary judgeships were made permanent. Additional judgeships were added to the Eastern District in 1936, 1942, 1970, 1978, and 1984, and two were added in 1990, bringing the Eastern District to its current total of nine judges.[2]

The court currently meets in the Thomas F. Eagleton United States Courthouse, the largest courthouse in the United States.

The court continued to meet at the U.S. Custom House and Post Office until 1935,[18] and then moved to the United States Court House and Custom House in St. Louis.[23] In 2001 it moved to the Thomas F. Eagleton United States Courthouse, the largest courthouse in the United States.[24] The 2000 census reported that the district had a population of nearly 2.8 million, ranking 38th in population among the 90 U.S. judicial districts.[25]

Notable cases

During the Great Depression, three important United States Supreme Court cases were decided which determined the constitutionality of New Deal measures, one of which originated in the Eastern District of Missouri. The case, originally filed as Norman v. B & O Railroad,[26] reached the Supreme Court along with two cases filed in the United States Court of Claims, under the single heading of the Gold Clause Cases.[17] The Supreme Court upheld the determination of the trial court judge, Charles Breckenridge Faris, who found that Congress had the power to prohibit parties from contracting for payment in gold.

In 1976, the court heard the original proceedings in Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth,[27] a case that challenged several Missouri state regulations regarding abortion. The case was eventually appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which reaffirmed the right to abortion and struck down certain restrictions as unconstitutional.

Due to a school desegregation suit in 1972, the court required St. Louis to accept a busing plan in 1980. Judge William L. Hungate declared that a mandatory plan would go into effect unless other arrangements were made to adhere to the terms of the suit. In 1983, an unprecedented voluntary busing plan was put into place, integrating the schools without a mandated plan being required.[28]

In Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier,[29] a case that started in Missouri's Eastern District went before the United States Supreme Court in 1988, it was held that public school curricular student newspapers are subject to a lower level of First Amendment protection. Another First Amendment case in public schools came up in 1998, when E.D. Mo. heard Beussink v. Woodland R-IV School District.[30] Judge Rodney W. Sippel ruled that the school violated a student's rights by sanctioning him for material he posted on his website. This case has been widely cited in higher courts.[31]

In the 2000s, two more notable cases originated in this District and were heard by the United States Supreme Court. Nixon v. Shrink Missouri Government PAC[32] upheld state limits on campaign contributions to state offices, and Sell v. United States[33] imposed stringent limits on the right of a lower court to order the forcible administration of antipsychotic medication to an criminal defendant who had been determined to be incompetent to stand trial for the sole purpose of making him competent and able to be tried. Several notable antitrust cases originated in this district including Brown Shoe Co. v. United States[34] (preventing a merger between two shoe wholesalers which would have reduced competition in the region), and United Shoe Machinery Corp. v. United States[35] (prohibiting certain long-term leases of manufacturing equipment). Another important case brought in the district, Ruckelshaus v. Monsanto Co.,[36] involved the right of companies to maintain trade secrets under Missouri law in the face of federal regulations requiring disclosure of pesticide components.


William H. Webster was the most recent judge to be elevated from the Eastern District of Missouri to the Eighth Circuit.
# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
34 Chief Judge Rodney W. Sippel St. Louis 1956 1997–present 2016–present Clinton
29 District Judge Carol E. Jackson St. Louis 1952 1992–present 2002–2009 G.H.W. Bush
31 District Judge Catherine D. Perry St. Louis 1952 1994–present 2009–2016 Clinton
35 District Judge Henry Edward Autrey St. Louis 1952 2002–present G.W. Bush
36 District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr. Cape Girardeau 1952 2008–present G.W. Bush
37 District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig St. Louis 1955 2010–present Obama
38 District Judge John Andrew Ross St. Louis 1954 2011–present Obama
39 District Judge Brian C. Wimes none[37] 1966 2012–present Obama
40 District Judge Ronnie L. White St. Louis 1953 2014–present Obama
21 Senior Judge Edward Louis Filippine inactive 1930 1977–1995 1990–1995 1995–present Carter
27 Senior Judge Jean Constance Hamilton St. Louis 1945 1990–2013 1995–2002 2013–present G.H.W. Bush
30 Senior Judge Charles Alexander Shaw St. Louis 1944 1993–2009 2009–present Clinton
32 Senior Judge E. Richard Webber St. Louis 1942 1995–2009 2009–present Clinton
33 Senior Judge Nanette K. Laughrey none[38] 1946 1996–2011 2011–present Clinton

Vacancies and pending nominations

Seat Seat last held by Vacancy reason Date of vacancy Nominee Date of nomination
6 Carol E. Jackson Retirement August 31, 2017[39]

Former judges

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Treat, SamuelSamuel Treat MO 1815–1902 1857–1887 Pierce, Pierce retirement
2 Thayer, Amos MaddenAmos Madden Thayer MO 1841–1905 1887–1894 Cleveland, Cleveland reappointment
3 Priest, Henry SamuelHenry Samuel Priest MO 1853–1930 1894–1895 Cleveland, Cleveland resignation
4 Adams, Elmer BraggElmer Bragg Adams MO 1842–1916 1895–1905[Note 2] Cleveland, Cleveland reappointment
5 Finkelnburg, Gustavus A.Gustavus A. Finkelnburg MO 1837–1908 1905–1907[Note 3] Roosevelt, T.T. Roosevelt resignation
6 Dyer, David PattersonDavid Patterson Dyer MO 1838–1924 1907–1919 1919–1924 Roosevelt, T.T. Roosevelt death
7 Faris, Charles BreckenridgeCharles Breckenridge Faris MO 1864–1938 1919–1935 Wilson, Wilson reappointment
8 Davis, Charles B.Charles B. Davis MO 1877–1943 1924–1943 Coolidge, Coolidge death
9 Moore, GeorgeGeorge Moore MO 1878–1962 1935–1962 1948–1959 1962–1962 Roosevelt, F.F. Roosevelt death
10 Collet, John CaskieJohn Caskie Collet MO 1898–1955 1937–1947 Roosevelt, F.F. Roosevelt reappointment
11 Duncan, Richard M.Richard M. Duncan MO 1889–1974 1943–1965 1965–1974 Roosevelt, F.F. Roosevelt death
12 Hulen, Rubey MosleyRubey Mosley Hulen MO 1894–1956 1943–1956 Roosevelt, F.F. Roosevelt death
13 Harper, Roy WinfieldRoy Winfield Harper MO 1905–1994 1947–1971[Note 4] 1959–1971 1971–1994 Truman, Truman death
14 Weber, Randolph HenryRandolph Henry Weber MO 1909–1961 1957–1961 Eisenhower, Eisenhower death
15 Meredith, James HargroveJames Hargrove Meredith MO 1914–1988 1962–1979 1971–1979 1979–1988 Kennedy, Kennedy death
16 Regan, John KeatingJohn Keating Regan MO 1911–1987 1962–1977 1977–1987 Kennedy, Kennedy death
17 Collinson, William RobertWilliam Robert Collinson MO 1912–1995 1965–1980 1980–1995 Johnson, L.L. Johnson death
18 Webster, William H.William H. Webster MO 1924–present 1970–1973 Nixon, Nixon reappointment
19 Wangelin, Harris KennethHarris Kenneth Wangelin MO 1913–1987 1970–1983 1979–1983 1983–1987 Nixon, Nixon death
20 Nangle, John FrancisJohn Francis Nangle MO 1922–2008 1973–1990 1983–1990 1990–2008 Nixon, Nixon death
22 Hungate, William L.William L. Hungate MO 1922–2007 1979–1991 1991–1992 Carter, Carter retirement
23 Cahill Jr., Clyde S.Clyde S. Cahill Jr. MO 1923–2004 1980–1992 1992–2004 Carter, Carter death
24 Stevens, Jr., Joseph EdwardJoseph Edward Stevens, Jr. MO 1928–1998 1981–1995 1995–1998 Reagan, Reagan death
25 Limbaugh, Sr., Stephen N.Stephen N. Limbaugh, Sr. MO 1927–present 1983–1996 1996–2008 Reagan, Reagan retirement
26 Gunn, Jr., George F.George F. Gunn, Jr. MO 1927–1998 1985–1996 1996–1998 Reagan, Reagan death
28 Stohr, Donald J.Donald J. Stohr MO 1934–2015 1992–2006 2006–2015 G.H.W. Bush, G.H.W. Bush death

Jean Constance Hamilton, appointed by George H. W. Bush in 1990, was the first female judge appointed to the District. The first African American to serve was Clyde S. Cahill Jr., who was appointed by Jimmy Carter in 1980. No Hispanic or Asian judges have served on this court. Over the history of the District, five of its judges have been elevated to the Eighth Circuit - Elmer Bragg Adams, John Caskie Collet, Charles Breckenridge Faris, Amos Madden Thayer and William Hedgcock Webster. No judge from this district has served on the United States Supreme Court.

  1. Nine seats authorized by 104 Stat. 5089 on December 1, 1990
  2. Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 4, 1895, confirmed by the United States Senate on December 9, 1895, and received commission on December 9, 1895.
  3. Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 5, 1905, confirmed by the United States Senate on December 12, 1905, and received commission on December 12, 1905.
  4. Recess appointment; formally nominated on November 24, 1947, but the United States Senate failed to act on the appointment; appointed by recess appointment a second time, and again not confirmed by the Senate; appointed by recess appointment a third time; formally nominated on January 13, 1949, confirmed by the United States Senate on January 31, 1949, and received commission on February 2, 1949.

Succession of seats

Seat 1
Seat established on March 3, 1857 by 11 Stat. 197
Treat 1857–1887
Thayer 1887–1894
Priest 1894–1895
Adams 1895–1905
Finkelnburg 1905–1907
Dyer 1907–1919
Faris 1919–1935
Moore 1935–1962
Meredith 1962–1979
Cahill, Jr. 1980–1992
Perry 1994–present

Seat 2
Seat established on September 14, 1922 by 42 Stat. 838 (temporary)
Seat made permanent on August 19, 1935 by 49 Stat. 659
Davis 1924–1943
Hulen 1943–1956
Weber 1957–1961
Regan 1962–1977
Filippine 1977–1995
Webber 1995–2009
Fleissig 2010–present

Seat 3
Seat established on June 22, 1936 by 49 Stat. 1804 (concurrent with Western District)
Collet 1937–1947
Harper 1947–1971
Wangelin 1970–1983
Limbaugh 1983–1996
Sippel 1997–present

Seat 4
Seat established on December 24, 1942 by 56 Stat. 1083 (temporary, concurrent with Western District)
Seat made permanent on February 10, 1954 by 68 Stat. 8
Duncan 1943–1965
Collinson 1965–1980
Stevens, Jr. 1981–1995
Laughrey 1996–2011
Wimes 2012–present

Seat 5
Seat established on June 2, 1970 by 84 Stat. 294
Webster 1970–1973
Nangle 1973–1990
Hamilton 1990–2013
White 2014–present

Seat 6
Seat established on October 20, 1978 by 92 Stat. 1629
Hungate 1979–1991
Jackson 1992–present

Seat 7
Seat established on July 10, 1984 by 98 Stat. 333
Gunn, Jr. 1985–1996
Autrey 2002–present

Seat 8
Seat established on December 1, 1990 by 104 Stat. 5089
Stohr 1992–2006
Limbaugh, Jr. 2008–present

Seat 9
Seat established on December 1, 1990 by 104 Stat. 5089 (temporary)
Shaw 1993–2009
Ross 2011–present


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Counties by District". Eastern District of Missouri official site. Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "U.S. District Courts of Missouri, Legislative history". Biographical Directory of Federal Judges. Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  3. "Office of the United States Attorneys". Executive Office for United States Attorneys. United States Department of Justice. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  4. "The U.S. District Courts and the Federal Judiciary". Biographical Directory of Federal Judges. Federal Judicial Center. Archived from the original on July 14, 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  5. "Clerks Office Hours". Eastern District of Missouri official site. Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  6. "Rush Hudson Limbaugh Sr. U.S. Courthouse". United States General Services Administration. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
  7. 3 Stat. 653.
  8. Dickens, Asbury (1852). Synoptical Index to the Laws and Treaties of the United States of America. Boston: Little, Brown and company. p. 393.
  9. 5 Stat. 176.
  10. 11 Stat. 197.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Broadhead, James O. (March 5, 1887). "Address of Col. J. O. Broadhead". In Bar Association of St. Louis. Proceedings of the Saint Louis bar on the retirement of Hon. Samuel Treat. St. Louis: Nixon-Jones printing co. pp. 10–17.
  12. "Robert William Wells". Biographical Directory of Federal Judges. Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  13. "Samuel Treat". Biographical Directory of Federal Judges. Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  14. 1 2 3 4 "U.S. District Courts of Missouri, Authorized Meeting Places". Biographical Directory of Federal Judges. Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  15. 1 2 3 Neely, Mark E., Jr. (January 3, 1991). The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties. Oxford University Press. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-7607-8864-6.
  16. 14 Stat. 517.
  17. 1 2 3 Morris, Jeffrey Brandon; forward by William H. Webster (November 16, 2007). Establishing Justice in Middle America: A History of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (1st ed.). Univ Of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-4816-0. Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  18. 1 2 "St. Louis, Missouri, 1884". Biographical Directory of Federal Judges. Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  19. "Hannibal, Missouri, 1888". Biographical Directory of Federal Judges. Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  20. 1 2 Gray, Melvin L. (1901). "United States Courts". In Howard L. Conrad. Encyclopedia of the history of Missouri. Southern History Co. pp. 267–269.
  21. 42 Stat. 838.
  22. 49 Stat. 659.
  23. "St. Louis, 1935". Biographical Directory of Federal Judges. Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  24. "Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse". U.S. General Services Administration. 4/6/2009. Retrieved 2009-04-16. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  25. Decker, Scott H.; et al. (February 2007). "Project Safe Neighborhoods: Strategic Interventions" (PDF). U.S. Department of Justice. p. 3. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  26. Norman v. B & O Railroad, 294 U.S. 240 (1935)
  27. Planned Parenthood of Missouri v. Danforth, 428 U.S. 52 (1976).
  28. "Bus Pact: St. Louis desegregates". Time. March 7, 1983. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  29. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260 (1988).
  30. Beussink v. Woodland R-IV School district, 30 F. Supp. 2d 1175 (E.D. Mo. 1998).
  31. Court transcript, accessed March 30, 2009. Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  32. Nixon v. Shrink Missouri Government PAC, 528 U.S. 377 (2000).
  33. Sell v. United States, 539 U.S. 166 (2003).
  34. Brown Shoe Co., Inc. v. United States, 370 U.S. 294 (1962).
  35. United Shoe Machinery Corp. v. United States, 258 U.S. 451 (1922).
  36. Ruckelshaus v. Monsanto Co., 467 U.S. 986 (1984).
  37. Judge Wimes maintains chambers only in the Western District
  38. Judge Laughrey maintains chambers only in the Western District
  39. Future Judicial Vacancies

See also

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