Archives of Maryland
Historical List
U.S. District Court of Maryland, 1789-

The United States District Courts are federal courts with general trial jurisdiction in both criminal and civil cases. Each state has at least one federal district court. Under jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court are the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the U.S. Magistrate Judges, probation officers, court reporters, and their staffs.

The United States District Court for the District of Maryland was established in 1789 by the federal Judiciary Act of 1789. The Court convened for the first time in 1790 at Baltimore and alternated sessions between Baltimore and Easton until 1822, when it moved to the New Masonic Hall on St. Paul Street, Baltimore. The Court moved to its present site on West Lombard Street in 1976. When the U.S. Courthouse in Greenbelt opened in October 1994, the Court divided into a Northern Division in Baltimore and a Southern Division in Greenbelt.

Judges of the U.S. District Court are appointed for a life-term by the President of the United States with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate. Presently, sixteen judges sit on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Five senior judges still hear cases but no longer assume full-time duties.

The Chief Judge serves a seven-year term. By law, the judge with most seniority who also is under 65 years of age, has served at least one year on the Court, and has not served previously as Chief Judge becomes the Chief Judge.

Historical List of Chief Judges of the U.S. District Court of Maryland

Dates Served
William Paca 1789-1799
James Winchester 1799-1806
James Houston 1806-1819
Theodorick Bland 1819-1824
Elias Glenn 1824-1836
Upton Scott Heath 1836-1852
John Glenn 1852-1853
William Fell Giles 1853-1879
Thomas John Morris 1879-1912
John Carter Rose 1910-1922
Morris Ames Soper 1923-1931
William Caldwell Coleman 1927-1955
William Calvin Chesnut 1931-1962
Roszel Cathcart Thomsen 1954-1992
Robert Dorsey Watkins 1955-1986
Edward Skottowe Northrup 1961-2003
Harrison Lee Winter 1961-1966
Alexander Harvey II 1966-2004
Frank Albert Kaufman 1966-1997
James Rogers Miller, Jr. 1970-1986
Charles Stanley Blair 1971-1980
Herbert Frazier Murray 1971-1999
Joseph H. Young 1971-2002
Joseph Clemens Howard 1979-2000
Shirley Brannock Jones 1979-1982
Norman Park Ramsey 1980-1992
Walter Evan Black, Jr. 1982-2003
John Raymand Hargrove, Sr. 1984-1997
J. Frederick Motz 1985-2010
Frederic N. Smalkin 1986-2003
Paul Victor Niemeyer 1988-1990
Marvin J. Garbis 1989-2003
William M. Nickerson 1990-2002
Benson Everett Legg 1991-2013
Deborah K. Chasanow 1993-2014
Peter Jo Messitte 1993-2008
Alexander Williams, Jr. 1994-2014
Catherine C. Blake 1995-present
Andre Maurice Davis 1995-2009
William D. Quarles, Jr. 2003-present
Richard D. Bennett 2003-present
Roger W. Titus 2003-2014
James K. Bredar 2010-present
Ellen L. Hollander 2011-present
Paul W. Grimm2012-present
George J. Hazel2014-present
Theodore D. Chuang2014-present
George L. Russell III2014-present

Chief Judges

Name Dates Served
William Caldwell Coleman 1948-1955
Roszel Cathcart Thomsen 1955-1970
Robert Dorsey Watkins 1970
Edward Skottowe Northrup 1970-1981
Frank Albert Kaufman 1981-1986
Alexander Harvey II 1983-1991
Walter Evan Black, Jr. 1991-1994
J. Frederick Motz 1994-2001
Frederic N. Smalkin 2001-2003
Benson Everett Legg 2003-2010
Deborah K. Chasanow 2010-2014
Catherine C. Blake2014-present



Federal Judicial History, Federal Judicial Center.

Lewis, H.H. Walker and James F. Schneider. A Bicentennial History of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. Maryland Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, 1990.

Maryland Manual Online.

Return to Maryland Government, Historical List

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