Northern District of New York
The Northern District of New York is one of four federal judicial districts in the state of New York. It covers 32 counties across the northern and eastern parts of the state.
The Northern District spans over 33,000 square miles across Upstate New York. It reaches from the Canadian border in the north to the suburbs of New York City in the south. The district covers a diverse geographical area including major cities, rural farmland, mountains, forests, rivers, and lakes.
According to the 2010 census, the Northern District has a population of around 3.5 million residents. The cities of Syracuse, Albany, Utica, and Binghamton anchor the major population centers. However, much of the district is rural.
Some of the major cities located in the Northern District of New York include:
- Syracuse – Located on Onondaga Lake, Syracuse is the 5th most populous city in New York. It is a major educational and economic hub.
- Albany – The capital and 6th largest city in New York, Albany is a center of government and commerce.
- Utica – Situated along the Mohawk River, Utica has rich industrial and cultural heritage. It is the seat of Oneida County.
- Binghamton – At the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers, Binghamton is home to a State University of New York campus.
There are four federal courthouses located in the Northern District of New York. The main courthouse is in Syracuse.
James M. Hanley Federal Building
The James M. Hanley Federal Building in Syracuse is the main courthouse for the Northern District. It houses courtrooms, judges’ chambers, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, and other federal agencies. The 10-story building opened in 1967 and was named after a former Congressman.
Other Northern District of New York courthouses are located in:
- Albany – Built in 1935, the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse building is home to two District Court judges.
- Plattsburgh – The federal building houses a magistrate judge and bankruptcy court.
- Binghamton – A courthouse annex contains the chambers and courtroom for a magistrate judge.
Judges and Staff
There are five District Court judges, four Magistrate judges, a U.S. Attorney, U.S. Marshal, and supporting judicial staff for the Northern District of New York.
U.S. District Judges
The Northern District currently has five Article III U.S. District Court Judges nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. They serve lifetime appointments. The Chief Judge is Glenn T. Suddaby.
U.S. Magistrate Judges
There are four U.S. Magistrate Judges who handle preliminary criminal matters, petitions from prisoners, and pretrial civil cases on referral from District Judges. Magistrate Judges serve renewable 8-year terms.
The United States Attorney is the chief federal law enforcement officer for the Northern District of New York. Carla B. Freedman currently serves as the U.S. Attorney leading a staff of Assistant U.S. Attorneys.
The U.S. Marshal provides security for the federal judiciary, transports federal prisoners, protects witnesses, and serves writs and processes. David L. McNulty is the current U.S. Marshal for the Northern District.
The Northern District of New York has presided over many influential cases in its history, both civil and criminal.
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, the court heard cases testing the constitutionality of New York laws regulating steamboat traffic. These established an early precedent for the expansive reach of federal power over interstate commerce.
The Northern District also presided over key cases enforcing the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 during Reconstruction.
Recent Major Cases
In the 1990s, the court handled lawsuits seeking to curtail pollution in the Adirondacks from Midwest coal plants. This led to Clean Air Act reforms.
After 9/11, dozens of terrorism-related cases have appeared before Northern District judges. Courtrooms heard charges against the Lackawanna Six sleeper cell and a plot to bomb the New York Stock Exchange.
Judges have also made pivotal rulings in lawsuits against the State University of New York and New York prison systems over religious freedoms, disabilities rights, and prison conditions.
Court Operations and Procedures
The Northern District of New York has its own set of local court rules and procedures regulating practice in the District.
Attorneys must follow the Local Rules of the Northern District of New York when filing cases and practicing before the court. The rules cover areas like civil and criminal case procedures, attorney conduct and discipline, and courtroom practices.
The Northern District requires electronic case filing through its Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system. Self-represented litigants may file papers in person at the court’s clerk office. Unique procedures exist for filing documents under seal.
Jury selection in the Northern District involves randomized selection from voter registrations and DMV records. The court utilizes the Jury Administrator System for processing jurors who serve for generally 2-4 week terms.
Contact Information for the Court
To contact the Northern District of New York or get more information on its locations, judges, procedures, and more, please use the following:
Phone and Address
James M. Hanley Federal Building
100 South Clinton Street
Syracuse, NY 13261-6100 Phone: (315) 473-7601
The Northern District’s website contains court orders, opinions, rules, forms, fees, and other info: www.nynd.uscourts.gov
The Northern District of New York administers justice across one of the largest and most varied federal judicial districts in the country. Its courthouses and judges handle major criminal and civil cases that often garner national attention. The court’s rulings for over 200 years have helped shape American law on pivotal issues. While adapting to an ever-changing legal landscape, the Northern District remains committed to upholding the Constitution and protecting the rights of all citizens.
How many District Court judges are in the Northern District of New York?
There are currently five Article III U.S. District Court judges serving lifetime appointments in the Northern District of New York.
What are the cities where Northern District courthouses are located?
The four courthouses of the Northern District are located in Syracuse, Albany, Plattsburgh, and Binghamton. Syracuse’s James M. Hanley Federal Building is the main courthouse.
What was a major historical case for the Northern District?
In the 19th century, the Northern District heard pivotal cases upholding federal powers over interstate commerce, such as in Gibbons v. Ogden regulating steamboats on New York waterways.
What is a notable modern case from the Northern District?
After 9/11, the court presided over several high-profile terrorism trials, including the 2003 case of the Lackawanna Six convicted of providing material support to al-Qaeda.
Where can I find the local court rules for the Northern District?
The Local Rules for the Northern District of New York contain all procedures for practicing before the District Court and are available on the court’s website www.nynd.uscourts.gov.