United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania

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Western District of Pennsylvania
Third Circuit
Judges: 7
Posts: 10
Vacancies: 3
Active judges
Chief: Joy Conti
Senior Judges
Magistrate Judges
Former Judges
(Numbers indicate % of seats vacant.)
More than 40%

The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania is one of ninety-four United States district courts. When decisions of the court are appealed, they are appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals based in downtown Philadelphia at the James Byrne Courthouse.

The United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. The current district attorney is David J. Hickton.[1]

Vacancy warning level

The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania's vacancy warning level is Orange County. The court currently has three vacancies.

Pending nominations

There are no pending nominations for the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Active judges

Article III judges

JudgeBornHomeAppointed byActiveChiefPreceededBachelorsLaw
Judge Nora Fischer1951Homestead, PAW. Bush 4/2/2007-PresentRobert CindrichSt. Mary's College, 1973Notre Dame Law, 1976
Judge Arthur Schwab1946Pittsburgh, PAW. Bush 09/17/2002 - PresentMaurice Cohill, Jr.Grove City College, Pennsylvania, A.B., 1968University of Virginia School of Law, J.D., 1972
Judge David Cercone1952Pittsburgh, PAW. Bush 08/02/2002 - PresentDonald LeeWestminster College, B.A., 1974Duquesne U. Law, J.D., 1977
Judge Kim Gibson1948Trenton, NJW. Bush 9/24/2003-PresentBrooks SmithUnited States Military Academy, West Point, 1970Dickinson School of Law, 1975
Chief judge Joy Conti1948Kane, PAW. Bush 07/31/2002 - Present8/17/2013-PresentAlan BlochDuquesne U., B.A., 1970Duquesne U. Law, J.D., 1973
Judge Cathy Bissoon1968Brooklyn, NYObama 10/17/2011 - PresentThomas HardimanAlfred U., B.A., 1990Harvard Law, J.D., 1993
Judge Mark Raymond Hornak1956Homestead, PAObama 10/19/2011 - PresentDonetta AmbroseUniversity of Pittsburgh '78University of Pittsburgh Law '81

Active Article III judges by appointing political party

This graph displays the percent of active judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.


Senior judges

JudgeAppointed byActiveChiefSeniorBachelorsLaw
Senior Judge Donetta AmbroseClinton 11/24/1993 - 11/04/20102002 - 200911/05/2010 - PresentDuquesne U., B.A., 1967Duquesne U. Law, J.D., 1970
Senior Judge Alan BlochCarter 11/02/1979 - 04/11/199704/12/1997 - PresentUniversity of Pennsylvania, B.S., 1953University of Pittsburgh Law, J.D., 1958
Senior Judge Maurice CohillFord 05/21/1976 - 11/27/19941985 - 199211/28/1994 - PresentPrinceton, A.B., 1951University of Pittsburgh Law, LL.B., 1956
Senior Judge Gustave DiamondCarter 05/02/1978 - 01/30/19941992 - 199401/31/1994 - PresentDuke U., A.B., 1951Duquesne U. Law, J.D., 1956
Judge Terrence McVerryW. Bush 9/4/2002-9/30/201310/1/2013-PresentDuquesne University, 1965Duquesne University Law, 1968

Senior judges by appointing political party

This graph displays the percent of senior judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.


Magistrate judges

Magistrate Judge Keith Pesto03/01/1994 - PresentJohns Hopkins U., B.A., 1980University of Pennsylvania Law, J.D., 1983
Magistrate Judge (Recalled) Robert Mitchell1975 - 2005Dartmouth College, A.B., 1962University of Pittsburgh Law, J.D., 1967
Chief Magistrate Judge Lisa Lenihan04/02/2004 - PresentUniversity of Pittsburgh, 1980University of Pittsburgh Law, J.D., 1983
Magistrate Judge Susan Baxter01/20/1995 - PresentPennsylvania State U., B.S., 1978Temple U. Law, J.D., 1983
Magistrate Judge Maureen Kelly06/13/2011 - PresentNotre DameDuquesne U. Law
Magistrate Judge Cynthia EddyCurrent


The Counties of the Western District of Pennsylvania (click for larger map)

The Western District of Pennsylvania has original jurisdiction over cases filed within its jurisdiction. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law.

The geographic jurisdiction of the Western District of Pennsylvania consists of all the following counties in the western part of the state of Pennsylvania.




Federal Court Caseload Statistics*
YearStarting case load:Cases filed:Total cases:Cases terminated:Remaining cases:Median time(Criminal)**:Median time(Civil)**:3 Year Civil cases#:Vacant posts:## Trials/Post
2013 2778341261903431 275912.86.691 (4.5%)6.720
2012 2833320560383273 276513.46.684 (4.1%)1.118
2011 2777313159083096 281217763 (3.0%)22.819
2010 2919301259313162 276915.66.958 (2.9%)1219
2009 2815320460193114 290511765 (3.1%)1219
2008 2774330260763289 278710.66.982 (3.9%)1222
20072797315359503348260210.87.484 (4%)1129
*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website and reflect the calendar year through September.    **Time in months from filing to completion.
#This statistic includes cases which have been appealed in higher courts.    ##This is the total number of months that any judicial posts had spent vacant that year.

Notable cases

For a searchable list of opinions, please see Opinions of the Western District of Pennsylvania.


Court history

The District of Pennsylvania was established by Congress on September 24, 1789, with one post to cover the entire state. On April 20, 1818 Congress divided the district into the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Western District of Pennsylvania with one post each. On March 2, 1901, Congress again redefined the boundaries of the district, transitioning a portion of both districts to the newly formed Middle District of Pennsylvania. Over time nine additional judicial posts were added to the Western District of Pennsylvania for a total of ten current posts.[2]

Judicial posts

The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the Western District of Virginia:[2]

Year Statute Total Seats
September 24, 1789 1 Stat. 73 1 (Whole state)
April 20, 1818 3 Stat. 462 1
February 26, 1909 35 Stat. 656 2
September 14, 1922 42 Stat. 837 3(1 permanent)
August 19, 1935 49 Stat. 659 3
July 24, 1946 60 Stat. 654 4(1 shared temporary)
August 3, 1949 63 Stat. 493 5(1 shared temporary, 1 temporary)
February 10, 1954 68 Stat. 8 7(1 shared temporary, 1 temporary)
1955 Reassignment 6(1 temporary)
May 19, 1961 75 Stat. 80 8
June 2, 1970 84 Stat. 294 10

Former chief judges

In order to qualify for the office of chief judge in one of the federal courts, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as chief judge. A vacancy in the office of chief judge is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The chief judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a chief judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion.[3][4]

Former judges

For more information on the judges of the Western District of Pennsylvania, see former federal judges of the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Federal courthouse

There are three federal courthouses that serve the Western District of Pennsylvania.

See also

External links