Southern District of New York
The Southern District of New York (SDNY) is one of the 94 federal judicial districts under the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. It covers several counties in southern New York, including all five boroughs of New York City. The SDNY has jurisdiction over cases related to federal law and disputes between citizens of different states.
Geographically, the Southern District of New York covers the following counties: Bronx, Dutchess, New York, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Westchester and concurrently with the Eastern District, the waters within the Eastern District. The SDNY covers all five boroughs of New York City – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx.
History and Background
The Southern District of New York has a long history dating back to 1789 when the Judiciary Act established the United States District Court for the District of New York. In 1814, New York was divided into Northern and Southern Districts based on the counties. The Southern District initially covered New York, Kings, Richmond, Queens, Suffolk and Westchester counties.
Over the years, several counties were added and removed from the Southern District. The district saw many boundary changes but ultimately emerged with its current counties in 1990. Today, the Southern District of New York is one of the busiest federal judicial districts in the United States.
Courthouses and Facilities
The Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse at 500 Pearl Street in Manhattan is the main courthouse for the Southern District of New York. This iconic courthouse has courtrooms and office facilities for the District Court and other federal agencies. Other courthouses are located in White Plains and Middletown.
Counties in the Southern District
The Southern District of New York comprises eight counties in southern New York. Here is an overview of each county within the district.
Bronx County, coextensive with the borough of the Bronx in New York City, is the northernmost county in the SDNY. It is New York City’s northernmost borough and the only borough situated primarily on the mainland United States.
Dutchess County is located in the Mid-Hudson region of New York. The county seat is the city of Poughkeepsie. Dutchess County is part of the New York metropolitan area.
New York County
New York County, coextensive with the New York City borough of Manhattan, contains the city’s central business district and many of its major cultural attractions. It consists of Manhattan Island and several small surrounding islands and a mainland portion.
Orange County is located in the Mid-Hudson region of New York State. Its county seat is Goshen. The county’s population is one of the fastest-growing in the state.
Putnam County is located about 55 miles north of New York City. It contains small rural towns as well as hamlets and villages. Its county seat is Carmel. Putnam county forms part of the New York metropolitan area.
Rockland County is the southernmost county in New York west of the Hudson River. Rockland County is a suburb of New York City located 15 miles northwest of Manhattan.
Sullivan County is located in the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York State. It is in the southern part of New York, bordering Pennsylvania on its southwest corner. Its county seat is Monticello.
Westchester County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York. Westchester covers an area of 450 square miles, consisting of 48 municipalities. White Plains is the county seat and most populous city.
Courts and Administration
The Southern District of New York has a District Court, Bankruptcy Court, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and U.S. Marshal’s Office that help administer justice in the district.
U.S. District Court
The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York hears both civil and criminal cases that fall under federal jurisdiction. Appeals from the Southern District of New York go to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
U.S. Attorney’s Office
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York prosecutes federal criminal cases and represents the United States government in civil cases in the district. The current U.S. Attorney is Damian Williams.
U.S. Marshal’s Office
The U.S. Marshals Service for the Southern District of New York protects the federal judiciary, apprehends federal fugitives and provides security for federal facilities, officials and major events. Ralph Sozio is the current U.S. Marshal.
The Southern District of New York has presided over many high-profile cases that shaped legal history.
Terrorism and National Security Cases
The SDNY has handled major terrorism and national security cases like the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the trials of Omar Abdel Rahman and Ramzi Yousef and the prosecution of those responsible for the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa.
Financial and Corporate Fraud Cases
The Southern District has prosecuted many white-collar financial and corporate fraud cases like the securities fraud cases against Bernard Madoff, Martha Stewart, and Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling of Enron.
Public Corruption Cases
The SDNY has taken on major public corruption cases including prosecutions of New York elected officials like Sheldon Silver, Dean Skelos, Pedro Espada Jr. and Hiram Monserrate.
The Southern District of New York plays a pivotal role in the federal judiciary with its broad jurisdiction over New York City and surrounding counties. It handles high-stakes, complex cases related to terrorism, corporate fraud, and public corruption. The SDNY’s judges, prosecutors and officials have shaped many significant moments in U.S. legal history. With its location in the heart of New York City, the Southern District of New York will likely continue to take on major federal cases for the foreseeable future.
Q: How many districts are there in the U.S. District Court system?
A: There are 94 judicial districts in the U.S. district court system.
Q: Who is the current U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York?
A: The current U.S. Attorney is Damian Williams. He assumed office in 2021.
Q: What was a famous financial case tried in the Southern District of New York?
A: A notable financial case was the prosecution of Wall Street financier Bernie Madoff for orchestrating a massive Ponzi scheme. He was tried and convicted in the SDNY.
Q: Which counties are covered by the Southern District of New York?
A: The counties are Bronx, Dutchess, New York, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, and Westchester.
Q: Where is the main courthouse for the Southern District located?
A: The main courthouse is the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse located at 500 Pearl Street in Manhattan.