Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Who is Judge Kurt Engelhardt?

Judge Kurt Engelhardt is President Trump’s nominee to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals from Louisiana.

Age: 57 (approximate)

Current Position: Chief Judge, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana


  • B.A., Louisiana State University (1982)

  • J.D., Louisiana State University Law Center (1985)

Judicial Clerkships: Judge Charles Grisbaum, Louisiana Court of Appeal for the Fifth Judicial Circuit (1985-1987)


  • 1987-2001: Associate and Partner, Hailey, McNamara, Hall, Larmann & Papale LLP (Metairie, Louisiana)

  • 2001-2015: Judge, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans, LA)

  • 2015-present: Chief Judge, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans, LA)

Notable Matters:

  • At his law firm, Judge Engelhardt’s practice included all aspects of commercial transactions and commercial litigation, including real estate, bankruptcy, insurance defense and coverage issues, RICO, contract disputes, and construction litigation. He also did some personal injury litigation and white-collar criminal defense work.

  • President George W. Bush nominated Judge Engelhardt to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in 2001.

  • In 2013, Judge Engelhardt granted a temporary restraining order that prohibited the City of New Orleans from enforcing its “Super Bowl Clean Zone” law, which restricted signs and banners during Super Bowl week, outside the immediate area of the Superdome during Super Bowl week on First Amendment grounds. The original ordinance was far broader in terms of its geographical scope.

  • Also in 2013, Judge Engelhardt was the presiding judge in United States v. David Rainey, involving BP Executive David Rainey and the BP Gulf Coast Oil Spill. Judge Engelhardt dismissed the government’s charge of obstruction of Congress against Rainey, finding that the indictment failed to allege that Rainey knew about the pending congressional investigation he was charged with obstructing, and because it wasn’t clear that such a charge applies to subcommittee investigations.

Professional Associations: Judge Engelhardt serves on the U.S. Fifth Circuit’s Committee on Criminal Pattern Jury Instructions. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the New Orleans Chapter of The Federalist Society; the Board of Directors of the New Orleans Chapter of the Federal Bar Association; and the American Judicature Society.

Awards and Honors: In 2004, Chief Justice Rehnquist appointed Judge Engelhardt to serve on the Judicial Conference Committee on Federal-State Jurisdiction, where he served two terms. He also previously served as a member of the Louisiana Judiciary Commission.

Biographical Notes: Judge Engelhardt is a Louisiana native.






The Latest