Welcome!

The D.C. Circuit is one of the thirteen federal court circuits and consists of the U.S. District Court (a federal trial court) and the U.S. Court of Appeals. The Circuit covers the smallest geographic area of any of the circuits - its jurisdiction extends only to Washington D.C. - but it historically has had an outsized influence on the law as a frequent forum for litigation involving federal government agencies. The Historical Society, which was started in 1990, brings the Circuit's rich legacy to life through articles and oral histories, reenactments, displays and publications, archival preservation, and a mock appellate argument program for area high school students.

What's New

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Judge Kollar-Kotelly.jpg Portrait of Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly
The portrait of Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly was presented to the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia on September 15, 2017, in a ceremony presided over by Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell. A photo of the portrait now appears in the Society's on-line portrait exhibit. Danni Dawson is the portrait artist.










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Updated List of Papers of Judges on the D.C. Circuit Courts
The personal papers of many of the judges who have sat on the D.C. Circuit Courts are archived. The attached listing, prepared by the Federal Judicial Center, provides the locations of the archived papers. The listing also identifies manuscript collections that include correspondence from judges of the D.C. Circuit Courts. Take a look!


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Joe Rauh Legendary attorney Joe Rauh's finest hour may have been his defense of the famous playwrights Lillian Hellman and Arthur Miller in hearings by the House Un-American Activities Committee during the "red scare" of the 1950s. And writer Genevieve Beske captures the moment perfectly in an article based on Rauh's oral history. Best of all, is her recounting of the two weeks that Miller stayed at Rauh's house during the hearings. Stealing the scene there was Miller's wife, actress Marilyn Monroe.













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Thomas Williamson, Jr., Esq. At age ten, Thomas Williamson, Jr. persuaded his parents to let him travel across the United States by train, alone. An expert on trains and an African American, he was sure the Pullman porters would take care of him. The integrated community in Northern California where he grew up was less affected by racism than other parts of America, and so he was surprised when the San Francisco Chronicle reported his winning a junior high election. The Williamson children were hardly typical. He and both his siblings went to Harvard. His oral history is, therefore, a story of race in modern America told through a unique perspective. Sadly, as compelling as is the story Williamson tells, it is incomplete, cut short by Williamson's early death. He didn't have time to tell about his service as President of the DC Bar and Solicitor of Labor and his many other accomplishments. Precious Boone, Associate Counsel at MERSCORP Holdings, Inc., was the interviewer.













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Judge Mikva How does one make the transition from being a Congressman to being a DC Circuit judge? Read Judge Abner J. Mikva's oral history.









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Judge Harris What's it like growing up when your dad is manager of a major league baseball team? Read Judge Stanley S. Harris' oral history.









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Roger Wollenberg Roger Wollenberg at WilmerHale discusses his clerking for Justice Douglas and working with his fellow clerk, Louis Oberdorfer. Read more of Roger Wollenberg's oral history.









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Bob Trout The big case: Bob Trout discusses his defense of Congressman William Jefferson in a bribery case and during the aftermath of Enron's collapse. Read more of Bob Trout's oral history.