Thomas Ambro

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Thomas Ambro
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Court Information:
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Title:   Judge
Station:   Philadelphia, PA
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Approval vote:   96-2-2
Active:   02/16/2000 - Present
Preceded by:   Walter Stapleton
Personal History
Born:   1949
Hometown:   Cambridge, OH
Undergraduate:   Georgetown '71
Law School:   Georgetown Law '75

Thomas L. Ambro (b. 1949) is a federal appeals judge with the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit based in Philadelphia. He joined the court in 2000 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton.

Early life and education

Born in Cambridge, Ohio, Ambro graduated from Georgetown with his bachelor's degree in 1971 and later graduated from Georgetown Law with his Juris Doctor degree in 1975.[1]

Professional career

Ambro began his legal career as a law clerk for former Delaware Supreme Court Justice Daniel Herrmann from 1975 to 1976 before he entered private practice in the State of Delaware from 1976 to 2000.[1]

Judicial career

Ambro was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit by President Bill Clinton on September 28, 1999, to a seat vacated by Walter Stapleton as Stapleton assumed senior status. Ambro was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on a super majority 96-2-2 vote on February 10, 2000, and received commission on February 16, 2000.[2]

Notable cases

Dismissal of suit over mandatory retirement age for PA judges affirmed (2014)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Lerner, at al v. Corbett, et al, 13-4184)

On April 29, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit composed of Judges Ambro, Kent Jordan, and Senior Judge Jane Roth, upheld a decision rendered by Judge John E. Jones, III of the Middle District of Pennsylvania to dismiss a suit brought by group of Pennsylvania judges challenging the state's retirement age law.[3]

In the underlying case, the plaintiff judges alleged that their forced retirement at the age of 70 was based on preconceived notions of senior citizens’ deteriorating cognitive abilities, relying heavily on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Judge Jones found those arguments "unconvincing," further noting that the plaintiffs did not have a due process claim as they did not have a constitutionally protected property interest in continued judicial employment.[3]

In an opinion written by Judge Ambro, the plaintiff judges' claims were again rebuked, with Ambro stating that their Fourteenth Amendment rights had not been violated. Judge Ambro further noted that the plaintiffs' claims that opinions reached in the United States v. Windsor and Shelby County v. Holder cases before the Supreme Court of the United States served as intervening authority failed as a matter of law, as controlling precedent already existed.[3]

Judges agree that non-fiction book about known affair isn't defamatory (2014)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Crecenz v. Penguin Group, Inc.; Capuzzo, 13-1242)

On March 26, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit, composed of Judges Ambro, Michael Fisher, and Thomas Hardiman, ruled that a non-fiction book was not defamatory even though it addressed a married woman's affair with her boss.[4]

In the underlying case, Penguin Group published a book written by Michael Capuzzo called "The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases," in August 2010. The book recounted the work of the Vidocq Society, a Philadelphia-based forensic group, and its founding member, Frank Bender. Bender's assistant, Joan Crecenz, filed a lawsuit in 2011, alleging that she was defamed and suffered false light invasion of privacy as a result of Capuzzo's "reckless casting" of her as one of her boss's "girlfriends." During the course of the litigation, however, additional facts were disclosed concerning Crecenz's sexual relationship with Bender, and Judge Noel Hillman of the District of New Jersey awarded summary judgment to Penguin Group and Capuzzo.[4]

Crecenz appealed to the Third Circuit which affirmed the ruling. Judge Hardiman, on behalf of the majority, wrote:[4]

[W]e agree with the District Court that summary judgment is appropriate because Capuzzo possessed overwhelming evidence of a sexual relationship between Bender and Crescenz, and because Crescenz has failed to refute that evidence. Even if a jury could credit Crescenz’s testimony and find the allegations of a sexual relationship false, no reasonable jury could find that Capuzzo was negligent in ascertaining the truth of his statements. Accordingly, the District Court did not err in granting summary judgment to Capuzzo on Crescenz’s defamation claim.[5]

Carl Lewis and NJ Senator candidate residency requirements (2011)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Frederick Carlton Lewis, v. Kim Guadagno, Secretary of State, et al., 11-cv-3401)

Judge Ambro was a member of a special panel of judges, along with Judges Anthony Scirica and Thomas Vanaskie, that determined whether or not Olympic runner and New Jersey Senate candidate Carl Lewis would be allowed to remain on the ballot after being removed by Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno over a residency dispute. Guadagno removed Lewis from the ballot saying that he failed to satisfy the four-year residency requirement.[6] Initially, a decision in Lewis's favor was made, and the court ordered his name be put back on the ballot. Judge Scirica dissented from that decision. The defendants appealed, and ultimately the three judges ruled that Lewis's name may be left off the ballot because he did not show that the State officials had treated him unequally with regard to the residency requirement.[7]

See also

External links


Political offices
Preceded by:
Walter Stapleton
Third Circuit Court of Appeals
Succeeded by: