Kalpana Kalpana (Editor)

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

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Appeals to  Second Circuit
Judges assigned  28
Established  September 24, 1789
Chief Judge  Colleen McMahon
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (in case citations, S.D.N.Y.) is a federal district court. Appeals from the Southern District of New York are taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit).


The Southern District is one of the most influential and active federal district courts in the United States, largely because of its jurisdiction over New York's major financial centers. On March 12, 2015 Michael Greco was confirmed as U.S. Marshal.


The Court's jurisdiction comprises the following counties: New York (Manhattan), Bronx, Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, Dutchess, and Sullivan. The United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. The current Acting United States Attorney is Joon H. Kim. The court sits in the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse and Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse, both in Manhattan, and in the Charles L. Brieant Federal Building and Courthouse in White Plains.


The United States District Court for the District of New York was one of the original 13 courts established by the Judiciary Act of 1789, 1 Stat. 73, on September 24, 1789. It first sat at the old Merchants Exchange on Broad Street in November 1789, the first federal court to do so. The Act of April 9, 1814, 3 Stat. 120, divided the District of New York into Northern and Southern Districts. The subdivision of the district was reportedly instigated by Matthias Burnett Tallmadge, out of antipathy for fellow district judge William P. Van Ness. These Districts were later further subdivided with the creation of Eastern District on February 25, 1865 by 13 Stat. 438, and the Western District on May 12, 1900, by 31 Stat. 175.

For the first hundred years of its existence, the case load of the District was dominated first by admiralty cases, and then by a mix of admiralty and bankruptcy cases. The primary responsibility for hearing bankruptcy cases has since been transferred to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, with the District Court only reviewing cases already decided by a bankruptcy judge.

Since its creation, the Southern District of New York has had 149 judges, more than any other District. Nineteen judges from the Southern District of New York have been elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit—Samuel Blatchford, Charles Merrill Hough, Learned Hand, Julius Marshuetz Mayer, Augustus Noble Hand, Martin Thomas Manton, Robert P. Patterson, Harold Medina, Irving Kaufman, Wilfred Feinberg, Walter R. Mansfield, Murray Gurfein, Lawrence W. Pierce, Pierre N. Leval, John M. Walker, Jr., Sonia Sotomayor, Denny Chin, Barrington Daniels Parker, Jr., and Gerard E. Lynch. Two judges, Samuel Blatchford and Sonia Sotomayor, were elevated from the Southern District of New York to serve as Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit and were later elevated to the Supreme Court of the United States. The longest serving judge, David Norton Edelstein, served as an active judge for 43 years to the day, and in senior status for an additional six years.

Judges of the Court have gone on to other high governmental positions. Robert P. Patterson, Sr. served as Under Secretary of War under President Franklin Roosevelt and the Secretary of War under President Harry S. Truman. Louis Freeh served as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from September 1993 to June 2001. Michael Mukasey served the 81st Attorney General of the United States under President George W. Bush.

Notable cases

The injury and loss of life claims from the sinking of the Titanic, the torpedo attack on the Lusitania and the fire aboard the General Slocum were heard in the S.D.N.Y. The espionage trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and the perjury trial of Alger Hiss were also heard in the S.D.N.Y.

Judge John M. Woolsey of the S.D.N.Y. rejected government efforts to censor on obscenity grounds the distribution of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Judge Murray Gurfein of the Court rejected government efforts to enjoin the New York Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers. Defamation suits were heard in the S.D.N.Y. against CBS and Time Magazine by General William Westmoreland and Israeli General Ariel Sharon.

Two former Attorneys General of the United States were indicted and tried in the S.D.N.Y. for crimes while in office – Harry Daugherty of the Teapot Dome era and John Mitchell of the Watergate era. Juries were unable to reach verdicts in the two trials against Daugherty and John Mitchell was acquitted.

Financial frauds have been prosecuted in the S.D.N.Y., among them the cases against Bernard Madoff, Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken.

The trials of those accused of the 1998 United States embassy bombings in East Africa, those alleged to have been responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and Omar Abdel Rahman, known in the press as the “The Blind Sheikh,” occurred in the District. More recently, the prosecution arising out of the 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt and the prosecution of Abduwali Muse,the so-called Somali Pirate, were heard in the Court.

The criminal cases against Bess Myerson, Leona Helmsley and Martha Stewart were heard in the S.D.N.Y., as was the U.S. case against Imelda Marcos.

The Deflategate controversy concerning National Football League's Tom Brady was heard in the S.D.N.Y.

District Judges

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has 28 authorized judgeships, filled by judges appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Eighteen judges who have taken senior status are eligible to continue hearing cases. As of June 1, 2016, the Chief Judge of the District is Judge Colleen McMahon, succeeding Judge Loretta Preska, whose seven-year term as Chief Judge expired. Senior Judge Charles S. Haight, Jr. sits by designation with the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut.

The District Judges (active and senior) sitting are:


United States District Court for the Southern District of New York Wikipedia