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United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts

The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts (in case citations, D. Mass.) is the federal district court whose territorial jurisdiction is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, United States.[4] The first court session was held in Boston in 1789. The second term was held in Salem in 1790 and court session locations alternated between the two cities until 1813. That year, Boston became the court's permanent home. A western division was opened in Springfield in 1979 and a central division was opened in Worcester in 1987. The court's main building is the John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse on Fan Pier in South Boston.

Appeals from the District of Massachusetts are heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, also located in the Moakley courthouse (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit).

US Attorney's Office


The United States Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. The current U.S. Attorney is Andrew Lelling.

Federal Public Defender's Office


The Federal Public Defender's Office represents individuals who cannot afford to hire a lawyer in federal criminal cases and related matters. The office is assigned to cases by the district courts in three districts (New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts), and by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.[5]

Current judges


As of January 1, 2018:

Vacancies and pending nominations


Former judges


Chief judges


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 seats


List of U.S. Attorneys


Notable cases


  • Ghen v. Rich (1881) (a whale is the property of the whaler who killed it, and not the person who found it dead on the beach).

See also


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