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

NOV
15

Law Clerk Initiative
Law Clerk InitiativeOver 225 current and former law clerks and judges from the D.C. Circuit Courts gathered for the 4th reception hosted by the Society's Law Clerk Initiative on October 26, 2017 in the Courthouse Atrium. The highlight: remarks from a family trio with deep roots in the District Court - Judge Christopher "Casey" Cooper, William H. "Bill" Jeffress, Jr. (Judge Cooper's father-in-law), and Amy Jeffress (Judge Cooper's spouse and Bill's daughter.) The three shared memories of Judge Gerhard Gesell, the legendary District Court jurist who hired both Bill (1970-71) and Amy (1992-93) as law clerks, including his work on the Pentagon Papers case and other First Amendment matters.

Law Clerk InitiativeThe Law Clerk Initiative, chaired by Judges Kavanaugh and Huvelle, Betsy Wanger and Linda Ferren, encourages law clerks to participate in various Society activities. Previous receptions featured remarks by Justice Elena Kagan and former Solicitors General Donald Verrilli and Paul Clement. [Pictured right: Amy Jeffress, Judge Casey Cooper and Bill Jeffress]





















NOV
06

Newly Available Books
We have two new book offerings about the history of the D.C. Circuit Courts in digital format on our site. One is An Anecdotal History of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, written by Judge Matthew McGuire. Judge McGuire had long been interested in the District Court's history, and over a period of years, penned articles on the history for the Journal of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia. In 1976, he put his work into book form, which the Court published. The other book, History of The United States Court of Appeals for The District of Columbia Circuit in The Country's Bicentennial Year, was prepared by E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr. and the Young Lawyers Section of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia. You can read or download these two new digital books.

A later history, Calmly to Poise the Scales of Justice: A History of he Courts of the District of Columbia Circuit, written by Jeffrey Brandon Morris in 2001, while not available on-line, can be ordered.












NOV
06

Bench and Bar of Montgomery County, Maryland
The Montgomery County Historical Society just published Bench and Bar of Montgomery County, Maryland, Early Lawyers of Montgomery County before 1900, a compilation of short biographies of more than 200 of the county's legal lights. Lawyers in families like the Keys and Taneys were notables in Washington D.C. as well. The biographies generally cover birth, education, career, political activities, marriages, children, death, and any military service. Reading the law was the usual form of legal education in the 19th century, and the route to practice was typically a family affair. Marriage to a lawyer's daughter was not an uncommon way to get admitted to the bar. Seventeen volunteers spent twenty years pulling it all together. The book is available from Laura Riese at the Montgomery County Historical Society or directly from the publisher.








OCT
23

Attridge Read about Magistrate Judge Patrick Attridge
An insider perspective on the DC Circuit from Magistrate Judge Patrick Attridge. Learn more by reading his oral history.








OCT
06

Judge Flannery The Ninth Annual Judge Thomas A. Flannery Lecture
Presented by Rod J. Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General of the United States with additional remarks by Robert E. Morin, Chief Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - 5:00 p.m.
United States Courthouse, Ceremonial Courtroom
333 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.

A reception will follow in the Courthouse Atrium.
RSVP here for the event.










OCT
04

Newsletter Read our Latest Newsletter
Read the Society's latest newsletter to learn about upcoming events -- our reception for Law Clerks, our Tinker and Mock Court programs for D.C. high school students --, oral history news, and much more.







SEP
29

Robert Kapp, Esq. Oral History of Robert Kapp, Esq.
Legal careers don't follow straight, predictable lines as Robert Kapp's new oral history demonstrates. After learning his trade as a litigator in the Tax Division of the Justice Department, he went to Hogan & Hartson (Hogan Lovells) to continue doing tax work. He became partner, but involvement with the ACLU, representation of Abbie Hoffman and the firm's nonprofit clients, and participation in Robert Kennedy's presidential campaign in 1968 changed him. He became active with the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, the National Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, and the International Human Rights Law Group. Still later, he helped found International Senior Lawyers to mobilize volunteer lawyers to work on human rights and economic development overseas. Little wonder American Lawyer gave him a lifetime achievement award in 2012. Looking back over almost 60 years of practice, Kapp says it was less money-driven when he started. Irv Nathan was Kapp's interviewer














SEP
25

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.










SEP
19

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!


SEP
12

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.













SEP
04

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.













AUG
25

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.