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


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.


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.


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.


Newsletter Take a look at the Society's July 2017 newsletter and read about the two judicial portraits recently added to the District Court's collection, the Society's newest Board members and oral history interviewers, the Society's upcoming reception for current and former law clerks and their judges, and learn more about Howard Westwood and Robert Kopp.


Howard Westwood It was an emergency posing a grave threat to the national security. The President alone had the responsibility to save the country from its enemies, but he had to act quickly. Would the Supreme Court let him? President Harry Truman waited with bated breath. Writer Genevieve Beske tells this thrilling lawyers-tale, using the oral history Howard Westwood (pictured right) gave the Society about his role in Youngstown Sheet & Tube that delivered a "stinging rebuff" to Truman's attempt to seize the steel industry in 1952.


Another addition to the Portrait Collection of the U.S. District Court

Judge Kessler The portrait of Judge Gladys Kessler was presented to the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia on June 9, 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.


Brochure of the Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit

Brochure Take a look at the Society's latest brochure.


Duane Vieth's Oral History

Duane Vieth Duane Vieth was the eighth lawyer hired at Arnold & Porter, now Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer. In his oral history, Vieth recalls working for Abe Fortas and other founding partners. Read more!


Judge Reggie Walton's Oral History

Judge Reggie Walson Judge Reggie Walton speaks about being a Superior Court vs. U.S. District Judge and handling high-profile cases in his oral history. Learn more by reading this section of his oral history.


An addition to the U.S. District Court's Portrait Collection

Rosemary Collyer The portrait of Judge Rosemary M. Collyer was presented to the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia on April 21, 2017, and now appears in the Historical Society's on-line portrait exhibit. Take a look. Judge Collyer's portrait was painted by Simmie Knox.


History of the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse

Courthouse President Harry Truman used a silver trowel when he laid the cornerstone for the Prettyman Courthouse in 1950. Since Truman was a member of the Masons, he probably thought laying the cornerstone was ironic, but even more ironic is the fact that the site was once occupied by the Mason's Jackson Hall. That building was named in tribute to another Masonic President, Andrew Jackson. The history of the building and the site, stretching back to when it was patented to Albert Pinner of Maryland in 1666, is meticulously recounted on the website of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, which has kindly consented to the DC Circuit Historical Society posting a link.


Welcome to new Historical Society Board members:

Hon. Tanya S. Chutkan
Jodi L. Avergun
William S. Consovoy
John F. Cooney
William H. Jeffress, Jr.
Adam Liptak
William B. Schultz
Kate Comerford Todd
Elizabeth W. Wilkins