District of Delaware
The United States District Court for the District of Delaware is the federal trial court with jurisdiction over all cases arising under federal laws in Delaware. As one of 94 federal judicial districts, the District of Delaware has a long history dating back to the earliest days of the American judicial system. Today, it covers the entire state of Delaware and holds court in Wilmington. Keep reading to learn more about this important federal court and its role in the judiciary.
History of the District of Delaware
Establishment and Early Years
The District of Delaware was officially established by the Judiciary Act of 1789, along with the rest of the original 13 federal judicial districts. It originally covered the counties of Kent, New Castle, and Sussex. Some of the early landmark cases heard by the District of Delaware included United States v. Fisher in 1805, which established important precedents about constitutional powers, and Bates v. Clark in 1852, which ruled that slaves transported into free states were automatically emancipated.
Over the years, the District of Delaware has heard many influential cases across areas like patent law, bankruptcy, and corporate litigation. Key cases include LaserDynamics, Inc. v. Quanta Computer, Inc. (2010), In re W.R. Grace & Co. (2009), and In re Rural Metro Corp. Stockholders Litig. (2014). The district has a reputation as an important venue for influential patent and bankruptcy cases.
Overview of the District Today
The District of Delaware still covers the entire state of Delaware, including the three counties of Kent, New Castle, and Sussex. Delaware is the second smallest state by area, so the district is relatively compact. The district is centered around the city of Wilmington where its courthouse is located.
The District of Delaware is based out of the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building and United States Courthouse at 844 N. King Street in Wilmington. This courthouse was built in 1996 and named after a former Delaware governor and U.S. senator. It contains four modern courtrooms along with judges’ chambers and other offices.
Judges and Staff
The District of Delaware has four authorized federal judgeships, with all four positions currently filled. The current judges are Chief Judge Colm F. Connolly, Judge Maryellen Noreika, Judge Richard G. Andrews, and Judge Leonard P. Stark. Over 100 deputy clerks, court reporters, magistrates, and other staff members also support the daily operations of the court.
Caseload and Types of Cases
In recent years, the District of Delaware has handled over 1,500 cases annually. Many of these cases fall into the categories of personal injury, financial, contract disputes, civil rights violations, and prisoner petitions. However, the district hears a disproportionate number of influential patent and bankruptcy cases compared to other districts.
Practical Information for Litigants
Location and Contact Information
The District of Delaware courthouse is located in downtown Wilmington at:
844 N. King Street, Unit 18
Wilmington, DE 19801
The phone number is (302) 573-6170. More info can be found on the District of Delaware website.
Local Rules and Fees
Litigants can consult the Delaware Local Civil and Criminal Rules for the district’s procedural rules. The district also publishes a fee schedule for filings, copies, records searches, and other administrative services. self-represented litigants can get guidance from the Clerk’s Office as well.
Finding Legal Representation
The Delaware State Bar Association provides referrals and other resources on finding legal representation within the state. Federal public defenders are also available to represent indigent criminal defendants. Pro se litigants can utilize the federal pro se clinic based in Wilmington.
For over 200 years, the District of Delaware has served the judicial needs of Delaware’s citizens while developing influential case law. Its early history shaped the nation, while recent cases made important rulings in complex areas like patents and bankruptcy. The court today provides an accessible and professional forum for civil and criminal federal cases of all kinds arising in Delaware. With its unique caseload and central location, the District of Delaware will likely continue to play an outsize role in the American legal system.
Q: How many judges serve on the District of Delaware?
A: The District of Delaware has four authorized federal judgeships, which are all currently filled. The judges are Chief Judge Colm F. Connolly, Judge Maryellen Noreika, Judge Richard G. Andrews, and Judge Leonard P. Stark.
Q: What types of cases are heard in the District of Delaware?
A: While the District of Delaware hears all kinds of federal civil and criminal cases, it handles a disproportionate number of patent, corporate, and bankruptcy cases compared to other districts.
Q: Where is the District of Delaware courthouse located?
A: The District of Delaware is based out of the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building and United States Courthouse located at 844 N. King Street, Wilmington, DE 19801. This courthouse opened in 1996.
Q: How can I find an attorney to represent me in the District of Delaware?
A: The Delaware State Bar Association provides legal referrals and resources to find attorneys within the state. Federal public defenders also represent indigent defendants in criminal cases. Pro se litigants can utilize the federal pro se legal clinic based in Wilmington.
Q: What are the local rules that apply to cases in the District of Delaware?
A: Litigants can consult the Delaware Local Civil and Criminal Rules, which outline the district’s procedures. The Clerk’s Office also provides guidance to self-represented litigants on local practices and rules.