The Judicial Research Initiative (JuRI)
at the University of South Carolina
Institutional History of the U.S. District Courts
This project essentially is an epiphenomenon of decades-long research on the backgrounds and career experiences of Article III judges on the U.S. district courts and courts of appeals. We learned that reliable information on the lower profile district judges–in particular those who served in the more distant past–often is difficult to come by. As the district bench evolved since 1789, there have been numerous expansions and reorganizations, the latter necessitated largely by the former. For example, some positions moved from district to district within the same state, others crossed state lines, some moved only to return. Some positions were authorized by Congress as "temporary" lines, with some of those eventually converted to permanent and others terminated. Recess appointments would cloud the picture further, as some eventually were confirmed, others not, and still others simply would resign prior to definitive action by the Senate. There is a chapter (available in pdf format) for each state and for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Each begins with a discussion of the statutory history that summarizes various court and position reorganizations, conversions, and terminations. The next section provides the statutory authority for each position. The final section enumerates the progression of occupants of each seat. The first column provides the position number, followed by the judge’s name, date of confirmation (and date of recess appointment, where relevant), date and reason for departure, and party affiliation. We also denote initial female and minority appointees from each state. This project could not have been completed–in fact would not even have been undertaken–without the generous support of the National Science Foundation and a string of supportive directors of the Law and Social Sciences Program. The numbers of the district court NSF grants are: SBR-9615087, SBR-9741910, SBR-9810564, SBR-0040337, SBR-9810564. The National Science Foundation bears no responsibility for the analysis provided herein.
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