Western District of Missouri

The Western District of Missouri is one of two federal judicial districts in the state of Missouri. It covers a significant portion of the western half of the state and is an important part of the federal judiciary system. This article will provide an introduction to this important district court.

History and Establishment of the Western District

The Western District of Missouri was officially established in 1857 through a Congressional act signed into law by President James Buchanan. Prior to that, the entire state was part of the single District of Missouri dating back to 1821 when Missouri first became a state.

The Western District was created to help manage the growing federal caseload in the western part of Missouri as the population increased. Its jurisdiction covers 45 counties in the western half of the state.

Geography and Jurisdiction of the Western District

The Western District of Missouri comprises five divisions, each encompassing a group of counties and holding court in a main city:

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Western Division

The Western Division includes counties such as Bates, Cass, Clay, Jackson and Johnson. This division covers the Kansas City metro area. Court proceedings take place in Kansas City.

Southwestern Division

The Southwestern Division covers counties like Barton, Jasper, McDonald, and Vernon. This division handles cases from the Joplin area with court held in Joplin.

Saint Joseph Division

The Saint Joseph Division includes counties such as Andrew, Buchanan, Clinton, and De Kalb. This division serves the Saint Joseph area with court proceedings held in Saint Joseph.

Central Division

The Central Division covers counties including Boone, Cole, Moniteau, and Osage. This division handles cases from the Jefferson City area and holds court in Jefferson City.

Southern Division

Counties such as Christian, Greene, Taney, and Webster make up the Southern Division. This division serves the Springfield area and conducts court business in Springfield.

Courthouses and Facilities

The main courthouse for the Western District of Missouri is the Charles Evans Whittaker U.S. Courthouse located in Kansas City. This courthouse opened in 1996 and hears cases from the Western Division.

Satellite courthouses are located in Jefferson City, Joplin, Springfield, and St. Joseph for proceedings in the district’s other divisions. The district also utilizes additional leased space and facilities as needed.

Notable Cases and Judges

The Western District has handled many important cases over its long history. Key cases include USA v. Bledsoe, one of the last slavery cases tried in federal court, prominent antitrust litigation against Microsoft, and fraud charges against defense contractor Litton Systems.

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Notable judges of the district have included Charles Evans Whittaker, who served on the U.S. Supreme Court, and Howard F. Sachs, an expert in antitrust law. Judges from the district have also sat by designation on appellate cases.

Current Status and Operations

Today, the U.S. Marshal position for the Western District of Missouri remains vacant. The district continues handling a broad docket of federal cases including criminal, civil, bankruptcy, and more.

With its long history and important jurisdiction in the state, the Western District of Missouri remains an integral component of the federal judiciary. It will likely continue adapting to serve the needs of western Missouri in the years ahead.

Conclusion

For over 150 years, the Western District of Missouri has provided fundamental federal judicial services across a large portion of the state of Missouri. With five divisions, several courthouses and facilities, and a significant caseload, the district plays a key role in the region. The Western District’s legacy will likely continue evolving for many years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many counties are covered by the Western District of Missouri?

The Western District of Missouri covers 45 counties in western Missouri.

When was the Western District of Missouri established?

It was established in 1857 through an act of Congress.

Where is the main courthouse located?

The main courthouse is the Charles Evans Whittaker U.S. Courthouse in Kansas City.

What types of cases does the Western District handle?

It handles a full docket including criminal, civil, bankruptcy, and other federal cases.

How many divisions does the Western District have?

There are five divisions – Western, Southwestern, Saint Joseph, Central, and Southern.

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