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U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals

Overview of U. S. Tenth Circuit Court Of Appeals

The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, located at the Byron White U.S. Courthouse, serves as a key federal appellate court within the United States justice system. It reviews decisions from lower federal courts in states like New Mexico and Colorado, ensuring laws are applied correctly.

The Byron White U S Courthouse with cityscape and mountain backdrop.


The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, established in 1929, has grown to be a key player among the United States courts of appeals. Originally formed to handle the growing caseload from western states, it now serves as an appellate court for several states and parts of Yellowstone National Park.

This expansion reflects its importance in the judicial system.

Housing its headquarters at the Byron White U.S. Courthouse in Denver, Colorado, this federal appellate court bears a rich legacy named after former Supreme Court Justice Byron White—a native of Colorado who served with distinction.

Over decades, numerous judges have contributed to its jurisprudence, reflecting shifts in legal thought and societal values within its jurisdictional boundaries which include New Mexico among other areas.


Jurisdiction of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit extends over a large geographical area. This area includes states like Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and even parts of Yellowstone National Park that spread into Montana and Idaho.

It means the court has the authority to review cases from district courts within these locations.

Cases from these areas can end up in the Tenth Circuit if parties decide to appeal a district court’s decision. This process ensures that decisions undergo thorough examination, providing a fair chance for error correction or interpretation clarification regarding federal laws.

Composition of the Court

The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has a group of judges, including a chief judge who leads them. Presidents appoint these judges to make big decisions on important legal matters.

Current Judges

The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals boasts a dedicated team of circuit judges at its helm, each bringing unique insights and expertise to the bench. Chief Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich leads this group with distinction, ensuring that justice is served with integrity and fairness.

  1. Chief Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich – Appointed by President George W. Bush, Tymkovich has been serving since 2003 and became chief judge in 2015. His leadership sets the tone for judicial excellence in the circuit.
  2. Judge Carlos F. Lucero – Another appointee of President Clinton, Lucero took his seat in 1995 and offers a wealth of legal knowledge from decades on the bench.
  3. Judge Harris L Hartz – Joining the court in 2001 after a nomination by President George W. Bush, Hartz’s decisions reflect a deep understanding of federal law.
  4. Judge Jerome A Holmes – Nominated by President George W. Bush, Holmes has contributed to the court’s jurisprudence since 2006 with a keen analytical mind.
  5. Judge Gregory A Phillips – Appointed by President Obama, Phillips began his term in 2013 and is known for his thorough examination of legal issues.
  6. Judge Carolyn B McHugh – Also an appointee of President Obama, McHugh joined the court in 2014, bringing her critical thinking skills to complex cases.
  7. Judge Nancy L Moritz – Since her appointment by President Obama in 2014, Moritz has demonstrated a commitment to justly applying the law.
  8. Judge Scott M Matheson Jr – Joining in 2010 after being nominated by President Obama, Matheson offers insights shaped by years of legal experience.
  9. Judge Allison H Eid – Appointed by President Trump, Eid has served since 2017 and is noted for her sharp legal intellect.
  10. Judge Joel M Carson III – Taking office in 2018 after a nomination from President Trump, Carson brings fresh perspectives to federal appellate review.
  11. Judge John B Nalbandian – Another one of President Trump’s appointees, Nalbandian started serving in 2018 with an eye for detail in every case he oversees.

This diverse group works tirelessly to ensure that every appeal they review is met with careful consideration and adherence to federal law principles. The court’s commitment to justice is evident through its handling of notable cases and its unwavering dedication to upholding the Constitution within their jurisdiction across several states including Colorado where they are headquartered.

Former Judges

Understanding the impact that former judges have had on the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals is crucial. Their decisions and actions set important precedents that continue to influence law and society today. Here, we highlight some notable former judges who served with distinction.

  1. Stephanie K. Seymour’s time on the bench spanned from 1979 to 2005. She made a mark with her thoughtful rulings and dedication to justice, influencing many areas of law during her tenure.
  2. Clarence A. Brimmer was a key figure from 1981 until 1991. His work contributed significantly to shaping legal interpretations within the Tenth Circuit’s jurisdiction.
  3. William Judson Holloway Jr., serving as Chief Judge from 1968 to 1992, holds the record for being the longest-serving leader in this position within the court’s history. His leadership helped steer the court through decades of complex legal challenges.
  4. Bobby R. Baldock dedicated several decades to serving on the Tenth Circuit bench, bringing wisdom and integrity to his role as a judge.
  5. Mary Beck Briscoe is remembered for her commitment to fairness and thorough analysis in every case she handled, significantly impacting federal appellate law.
  6. David M. Ebel worked diligently during his time on the bench, earning respect for his insightful opinions and contributions to the legal community.

These individuals played pivotal roles in upholding justice while serving on one of America’s prestigious intermediate appellate courts—the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Appointments by President

The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals plays a pivotal role in the American judicial system. Judges on this court have the job thanks to appointments by the President of the United States. These appointments must get approval from the Senate. This process ensures that judges are not only qualified but also have the trust of the nation’s leaders. Over time, various presidents have appointed judges to the Tenth Circuit, each leaving their mark on the court’s history and legal landscape.

Role and Responsibilities

The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals holds the power to review decisions made by lower courts within its circuit, playing a critical role in the American legal system. This court tackles cases that have been appealed from United States district courts and specialty courts, such as those involving public policies or environmental regulations, ensuring justice is served correctly.

Appellate Jurisdiction

Appellate jurisdiction allows the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to review decisions made by lower courts within its area. This includes looking over cases from Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and parts of Yellowstone National Park that stretch into Montana and Idaho.

Through this review process, parties unhappy with a district court’s verdict can appeal to this higher court for another look at their case. It acts as an intermediate step before possibly reaching the Supreme Court of the United States, ensuring fairness and adherence to legal standards across multiple states.

Noteworthy Cases

The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled on several key cases that have shaped legal precedents and impacted many lives. Each case listed below highlights the Court’s critical role in interpreting law within its jurisdiction, which includes states like Utah and Colorado.

  1. Samantha Elauf vs. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: This case focused on religious discrimination in the workplace. Samantha Elauf wore a headscarf due to her faith, which led to her not being hired. The court decided in her favor, stating employers must accommodate religious practices unless it causes undue hardship on the business.
  2. National Environmental Policy Act Cases: The court often hears disputes involving environmental regulations and policies. In one notable instance, it ruled that federal agencies conducting projects that potentially harm the environment must thoroughly consider alternatives to reduce negative impacts before proceeding.
  3. Temporary Restraining Orders and Civil Liberties: The Tenth Circuit deals with temporary orders that block certain actions until a full hearing can take place. It has made significant decisions regarding individual rights versus governmental authority, such as enjoining state laws found to infringe upon civil liberties until a thorough judicial review is conducted.
  4. Federal Claims and Appeals: Many cases come from individuals or entities appealing decisions made by lower courts or federal agencies. For example, the court once reversed a lower court’s summary judgment, allowing a plaintiff to pursue their claims further in trial. This demonstrates its crucial appellate function.
  5. Walter Newton’s Case: Involved questions about jury procedures and defendants’ rights during trial phases in federal courts, showing how circuit courts ensure fair application of justice following constitutional standards.
  6. Famous Legal Precedents on Employment Law: Decisions involving companies and employee relations often find their way to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, setting significant precedents on equal employment opportunities and discrimination claims.

These cases illustrate the varied yet vital nature of appeals processed by the Tenth Circuit, covering issues from employment discrimination to environmental protection and beyond.

Court Decision and Opinions

Court decisions and opinions from the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals hold significant value for clients seeking insights into federal appellate processes. These verdicts provide a clear view of how laws apply in cases across seven states.

  1. Published Opinions: Judges issue these formal statements after deliberating on cases. They serve as guiding principles for lower courts within the Tenth Circuit’s jurisdiction. Legal professionals often use them to forecast outcomes in similar situations.
  2. Unpublished Opinions: While they don’t set precedent like published ones, these judgements still offer valuable insights into the court’s reasoning on specific matters. Lawyers closely review them for strategies and arguments.
  3. En Banc Decisions: Rare occasions see all active judges reviewing a case together, usually reflecting its importance or complexity. Such verdicts carry substantial weight in legal communities and can reshape understanding of particular legal issues.
  4. Judges’ Dissents and Concurrences: Individual judges may write their own views separate from the court’s decision, expressing disagreement (dissent) or agreement with reasons different from those in the majority opinion (concurrence). These writings help to understand diverse judicial philosophies.
  5. Senior Judge Opinions: Judges with senior status, though semi-retired, can still hear cases and write opinions. Their vast experience lends depth to their judgements, influencing future case laws and interpretations.
  6. Motions Rulings: Before a full case review, short-term decisions or orders about specific action items in a case come through motions rulings. They manage legal proceedings efficiently and can affect the case outcome significantly.
  7. Emergency Appeals Decisions: The court also handles urgent requests that cannot wait for a regular appeal process, ensuring swift justice in critical circumstances such as injunctions against laws believed unconstitutional until a full trial.
  8. Oral Argument Summaries: Following verbal arguments by attorneys before the court, summaries give public an overview of key points debated, showcasing the dynamic interaction between judges and lawyers over complex legal issues.

Clients should pay close attention to these aspects of court activity to grasp how appellate courts influence law application and development across multiple jurisdictions in the United States federal system.

Colorado Federal Appeals Lawyer

If you have been convicted on a federal charge in Colorado, it’s important to contact an experienced federal appeals lawyer as soon as possible to preserve your right to appeal a lower court ruling. Contact Colorado’s Elizabeth A. McClintock today to learn how an expert in federal criminal appeals can assist your case.

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