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The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee (in case citations, E.D. Tenn.) is the federal court in the Sixth Circuit whose jurisdiction covers all of East Tennessee and a portion of Middle Tennessee. The court comprises 4 divisions. Based in Knoxville, Tennesseemarker, it maintains branch facilities in Chattanooga, Tennesseemarker; Greeneville, Tennesseemarker; and Winchester, Tennesseemarker.

  • The Southern Division, based in Chattanooga, Tennesseemarker, serves Bledsoe, Bradley, Hamilton, McMinn, Marion, Meigs, Polk, Rhea and Sequatchie counties.
  • The Northeastern Division, based in Greeneville, Tennesseemarker, serves Carter, Cocke, Greene, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington
  • The Northern Division, based in Knoxville, Tennesseemarker, serves Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Grainger, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier and Union counties.
  • The Winchester Division serves Bedford, Coffee, Franklin, Grundy, Lincoln, Moore, Warren and Van Buren counties.

The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court.

The court was established by the Judiciary Act of 1801 ("Midnight Judges" Act) wherein Congress created a new Sixth Circuit with two districts in the Tennessee. Since 1797, the state had been organized by Congress into one judicial district with one judge, John McNairy.

Tennessee—along with Kentuckymarker, Ohiomarker, and Michiganmarker -- is located within the area covered by United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and appeals are taken to that court (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit).


In the famous "Midnight Judges" Act of 1801, Congress expanded the number of circuits to six, provided for independent circuit court judgeships, and abolished the necessity of Supreme Court Justices riding the circuits. It was this legislation which created the grandfather of the present Sixth Circuit. The act provided for a "Sixth Circuit" comprising two districts in the State of Tennessee, one district in the State of Kentucky and one district, called the Ohio District, composed of the Ohio and Indiana territories (the latter including the present State of Michigan). The new Sixth Circuit Court was to be held at "Bairdstown" in the District of Kentucky, at Knoxville in the District of East Tennessee, at Nashville in the District of West Tennessee, and at Cincinnati in the District of Ohio. Unlike the other circuits which were provided with three circuit judges, the Sixth Circuit was to have only one circuit judge with district judges from Kentucky and Tennessee comprising the rest of the court. Any two judges constituted a quorum. New circuit judgeships were to be created as district judgeships in Kentucky and Tennessee became vacant.


The current Chief Judge is Curtis L. Collier. The Court is also served by five Magistrate Judges, H. Bruce Guyton, Dennis H. Inman, Susan K. Lee, and C. Clifford Shirley.

Judge Appointed by Began active
Ended active
Ended senior
End reason
Morgan Welles Brown Andrew Jackson death
Charles Dickens Clark Grover Cleveland death
Curtis Lynn Collier Bill Clinton Incumbent
Leslie Rogers Darr Franklin D. Roosevelt death
Robert Allan Edgar Ronald Reagan Incumbent
J. Ronnie Greer George W. Bush Incumbent
Xenophon Hicks Warren G. Harding reappointment
Thomas Gray Hull Ronald Reagan death
West Hughes Humphreys Franklin Pierce impeachment and conviction
James Howard Jarvis II Ronald Reagan death
Robert Leon Jordan Ronald Reagan Incumbent
David M. Key Rutherford B. Hayes retirement
Harry Sandlin Mattice Jr. George W. Bush Incumbent
John McNairy George Washington resignation
Herbert Theodore Milburn Ronald Reagan reappointment
Charles Gelbert Neese John F. Kennedy death
Thomas W. Phillips George W. Bush Incumbent
Edward Terry Sanford Theodore Roosevelt reappointment
George Caldwell Taylor Calvin Coolidge death
Robert Love Taylor Harry S. Truman death
Connally Findlay Trigg Abraham Lincoln death
Thomas A. Varlan George W. Bush Incumbent
Frank Wiley Wilson John F. Kennedy death


  1. The Honorable Harry Phillips, " History of the Sixth Circuit".
  2. Recess appointment; formally nominated on January 15, 1962, confirmed by the United States Senate on February 7, 1962, and received commission on February 17, 1962.
  3. Recess appointment; formally nominated on January 5, 1950, confirmed by the United States Senate on March 8, 1950, and received commission on March 9, 1950.

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