United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania is a United States district court.
Vacancy warning level
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania's vacancy warning level is currently set at green. The court currently has no vacancies for its six posts.
The court has jurisdiction over approximately one half of Pennsylvania. The court was created in 1901 by subdividing the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. The court is under the jurisdiction of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
Because Harrisburg, the state capital, is located within the district's jurisidiction, most suits against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are filed in the Middle District. Similarly, because York County Prison served as the largest Immigration and Naturalization Service facility in the Northeast, the Middle District also adjudicated a large number of immigration cases. The courts of appeal are now responsible for most judicial review of immigration decisions, bypassing the Middle District and other district courts.
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.
|Federal Court Case Load Statistics*|
|Year||Starting case load:||Cases filed:||Total cases:||Cases terminated:||Remaining cases:||Median time(Criminal)**:||Median time(Civil)**:||3 Year Civil cases#:||Vacant posts:##||Trials/Post|
|*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.
The Middle District of Pennsylvania has four separate divisions. The official clerk of court is Mary E. D'Andrea. Offices are open Monday - Friday excluding federal holidays. Please consult the chart below for more information:
|Scranton Headquarters||William J. Nealon Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse
235 N. Washington Ave. P.O. Box 1148 Scranton, PA 18501
|Harrisburg Division||Federal Building &
U.S. Courthouse 228 Walnut Street. P.O. Box 983 Harrisburg, PA 17108
|Williamsport Division||U.S. Courthouse
& Federal Office Building 240 West Third Street, Suite 218 Williamsport, PA 17701
|Wilkes-Barre Office||Max Rosenn U.S. Courthouse
197 South Main Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701
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, five additional judicial posts were added to the Middle District of Pennsylvania for a total of six current posts.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the Middle District of Pennsylvania:
|September 24, 1789||1 Stat. 73||1 (Whole state)|
|March 2, 1901||31 Stat. 880||1|
|February 28, 1929||45 Stat. 1344||2|
|July 24, 1946||60 Stat. 654||3(1 shared temporary)|
|February 10, 1954||68 Stat. 8||2|
|May 19, 1961||75 Stat. 80||3|
|June 2, 1970||84 Stat. 294||4(1 Temporary)|
|October 20, 1978||92 Stat. 1629||5|
|December 1, 1990||104 Stat. 5089||6|
For a searchable list of opinions, please see Opinions of the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
| • Overdraft banking class action settles for $2.5 million (2013) Judge(s):Robert Mariani|
*Johnson v. Community Bank, N.A. and First Liberty Bank and Trust 3:12-cv-01405-RDM
|On November 25, 2013, Judge Robert Mariani granted final approval to a class settlement between the plaintiff members of the class and the defendants, Community Bank NA and its subsidiary, First Liberty Bank and Trust. In the underlying case, plaintiffs filed suit in July 2012 alleging the banks' "unfair and unconscionable assessment and collection of excessive overdraft fees," specifically, that the banks purposefully re-sequenced the way in which debit transactions posted to customers' accounts in order to increase overdraft fees. Plaintiffs claimed that all charges over the limit were subject to additional overdraft fees, as opposed to only the first charge incurring the fee. The parties mediated their claims in January 2013, and presented a proposed $2.5 million settlement to the court which was signed in March 2013. About 50,000 members were included in the settlement class, and none of them objected, with only five opting out. The settlement funds were to be distributed pro rata to class members, with the exception of the named plaintiffs, who would each receive $5,000 payments. In weighing whether to grant final approval to the class settlement agreement, Judge Mariani noted that it must be "fair, reasonable, and adequate." In so doing, he stated that "litigation in this case could be very complex, expensive, and protracted, even compared to other class actions." Finding that the proposed settlement fulfilled the requirements, Mariani granted it his final approval, awarding the plaintiffs their awards, fees, and costs.|
| • Millions owed after fatal tractor trailer crash (2014) Judge(s):William Caldwell|
*Claxton, et al v. Singh and PVR Transport 1:11-cv-00714-WWC
|On January 6, 2014, Judge William Caldwell issued a verdict, ordering that the defendants pay more than $2.1 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the plaintiff. In the underlying case, Eric Claxton, the driver of a tractor trailer, crashed into Sukhwinder Singh's tractor trailer after Singh pulled onto the highway without using flashers or checking for traffic. Claxton and his passenger died after suffering severe burns in the fatal crash. Claxton's wife, Kamilah Claxton, sued both the driver of the tractor trailer and his employer, Sukhchan Singh (doing business as PVR Transport), alleging negligence, vicarious liability, and wrongful death. Claxton filed an unopposed motion for summary judgment in the case, and Judge Caldwell granted it following a bench trial in November 2013, finding that "both defendants acted with wanton and reckless indifference toward decedent." In a separate verdict, Caldwell ordered that the defendants pay Claxton $2 million for lost wages, $100,000 for pain and suffering, and $1,290.50 for estate administration fees. Caldwell also ordered that the defendants pay Claxton $100,000 in punitive damages.|
| • Pennsylvania same-sex marriage challenge (2013) Judge(s):John E. Jones III|
*Whitewood, et al v. Wolf, et al Case 1:2013cv01861
|On July 9, 2013, in the wake of the United States Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor, the Pennsylvania ACLU filed suit on behalf of 23 plaintiffs in an attempt to strike the state's ban on gay marriage, alleging that it violated the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Attorney General Kathleen Kane notably refused to defend the state's law, leaving Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Corbett to step in to handle the task. As part of a stipulation, Attorney General Kane and Governor Corbett were later dropped as defendants and replaced by Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser and Health Secretary Michael Wolf. A motion to dismiss was filed where the state argued that under the United States Supreme Court's decision in Baker v. Nelson, a federal court lacked jurisdiction over the state's law. On November 15, 2013, Judge John E. Jones, III denied the motion, rejecting the notion that the 1972 decision cited by the state left federal courts powerless. On December 9, 2013, the state requested permission to file an interlocutory appeal on the question of law to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and Judge Jones denied that request on December 17, 2013. A trial was scheduled for June 2014.|
| • Whistleblower judge in "Kids for Cash" case cannot sue certain defendants (2013) Judge(s):A. Richard Caputo|
*Lokuta v. Sallemi, et al 3:13-cv-00288-ARC
|On October 9, 2013, Judge A. Richard Caputo ruled that former Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Ann H. Lokuta could not sue several of the defendants named in her suit for reinstatement to the bench. In the underlying case, Lokuta filed suit in February 2013 against two former judges (Mark A. Ciavarella, Jr. and Michael T. Conahan), both of whom are now in prison for accepting millions of dollars in kickbacks to send children to for-profit detention centers, as well as five court administrators for their alleged participation in a conspiracy to have her removed from the bench following her service as an FBI informant in the "Kids for Cash" scandal. Lokuta's complaint asserted numerous civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, the federal civil conspiracy statute, as well as violations of her rights under the First, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments. In March 2013, the five court administrator defendants filed separate motions to dismiss Lokuta's complaint. Caputo later granted the five motions to dismiss as to the court administrator defendants because Lokuta's suit was not timely filed, and the two-year statute of limitations on her claims had already expired. Further, as discussed in Caputo's decision, Lokuta was barred from re-litigating issues already decided on the state court level, and two of the named defendants in the suit were entitled to prosecutorial immunity. Though five of the original defendants were removed from Lokuta's complaint, the suit against former Judges Ciavarella and Conahan still stands.|
| • Dismissal of challenge to mandatory judicial retirement age (2013) Judge(s):John E. Jones III|
*Lerner, et al. v. Corbett, et al. Case 1:12-cv-02577-JEJ
|In Pennsylvania, the state’s constitutionally mandated retirement age for judges is 70. Several state judges nearing the age of retirement decided to challenge the rule, claiming it was discriminatory under the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiffs in the case alleged that forcing judges to retire 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 John E. Jones, III dismissed the complaint, noting that the arguments presented were “unconvincing.” Jones further ruled that the plaintiff judges did not have a due process claim as they did not have a constitutionally protected property interest in continued judicial employment – and if they did, it would have been precluded by the state’s mandatory retirement age. Jones concluded his opinion dismissing the case by commenting on the juxtaposition between state judges versus federal judges: “There is at least a superficial irony in having a judge who is appointed for life under Article III of the United States Constitution rule against his judicial colleagues on the courts of this Commonwealth who must hang up their robes at age 70. And we confess that this causes us no small amount of discomfort. But at the end of the day, it is for the citizens of the Commonwealth and their elected representatives to amend and alter the subject provision, not this Court.”The plaintiff judges in the case plan to appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
There are three federal courthouses that serve the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
- Harrisburg - Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse.
- Scranton - William J. Nealon Federal Building and Courthouse.
- Williamsport - Herman T. Schneebeli Federal Building and Courthouse
- Wilkes-Barre - Max Rosenn U.S. Courthouse
For new stories and other related material see Pennsylvania judicial news.
- Official website
- Opinions of the Middle District of Pennsylvania
- US Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
- Judges of the Middle District of Pennsylvania
- Offices of the United States Attorneys, Official list
- Courthouse locations
- Courthouse contacts
- History of the Districts of Pennsylvania on the Federal Judicial Center website
- Courthouse News Service, "Regional Bank Settles Overdraft Issue for $2.5M," December 4, 2013
- Courthouse News Service, "Truck Driver Gets the Hammer for Fatal Crash," November 18, 2013
- Courthouse News Service, "Rookie Trucker Owes Millions for Fatal Crash," January 13, 2014
- ABC 6 Action News, "Pennsylvania Attorney General won't defend gay marriage ban," July 11, 2013
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Pennsylvania gay marriage ban to face court test," November 15, 2013
- Philadelphia Inquirer, "Judge clears way for trial on Pa. gay marriage ban," November 17, 2013
- Associated Press, "Judge in Pa. gay marriage suit nixes state appeal," December 17, 2013
- Courthouse News Service, "Just Judge Seeks Reinstatement After 'Kids for Cash' Corruption," February 8, 2013
- Citizens' Voice, "Judge removes defendants from Lokuta suit," October 11, 2013
- Courthouse News Service, "'Kids for Cash' Informant Can't Sue Court Officials," October 21, 2013
- Pensylvania Record, "Federal judge dismisses suit by Pa. judges challenging mandatory judicial retirement age," September 25, 2013
- Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, "PA Judges Lose Federal Challenge to Mandatory Retirement," September 25, 2013
|2.1 Active Judges|
|2.1.1 Article III judges|
|2.1.2 Pending appointments|
|2.1.3 Senior judges|
|2.2 Past judges|
|2.2.1 Former Chief judges|
|2.2.2 Former judges|
Article III judgesThe United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania has 6 posts. This is a list of the current judges on the court:
|Judge Yvette Kane||1953||Donaldsonville, LA||Clinton||10/22/1998 - Present||2006 - 2013||Edwin Kosik||Nicholls State U., B.A., 1973||Tulane Law, J.D., 1976|
|Chief Judge Christopher Conner||1957||Harrisburg, PA||W. Bush||07/29/2002 - Present||2013 - Present||Sylvia Rambo||Cornell, B.A., 1979||Dickinson Law, J.D., 1982|
|Judge John E. Jones||1955||Pottsville, PA||W. Bush||07/31/2002 - Present||James McClure||Dickinson College, B.A., 1977||Dickinson Law, J.D., 1980|
|Judge Malachy Mannion||1953||Montreal, Canada||Obama||12/21/2012 - Present||A. Richard Caputo||U. of Scranton, B.S., 1976||Pace U. Law, J.D., 1979|
|Judge Robert David Mariani||1950||Scranton, PA||Obama||10/19/2011 - Present||James M. Munley||Villanova U., A.B., 1972||Syracuse U. Law, J.D., 1976|
|Judge Matthew Brann||1965||Elmira, NY||Obama||12/21/2012 - Present||Thomas Vanaskie||Notre Dame, B.A., 1987||Pennsylvania State U. Law, J.D., 1990|
According to local newscaster WFMZ, from June 1, 2011, to July 15, 2011, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R) accepted applications for vacancies on the Middle District Court. Interested parties were to submit an application on Senator Casey's website or Senator Toomey's website.
There are no current pending appointments for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Senior judgesSee: Federal judges on senior status
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania has 7 judges on senior status currently. This is a list of the current senior judges on the court:
|Senior Judge Richard Caputo||Clinton||11/12/1997 - 03/30/2009||03/31/2009 - Present||Brown, A.B., 1960||U. of Pennsylvania Law School, LL.B., 1963|
|Senior Judge James Munley||Clinton||10/22/1998 - 01/29/2009||01/30/2009 - Present||U. of Scranton, B.S., 1958||Temple U. Law, LL.B., 1963|
|Senior Judge William Nealon||Kennedy||12/13/1962 - 01/01/1989||1976 - 1989||12/31/1988 - Present||Villanova U., B.S., 1947||Catholic U. of America Law, LL.B., 1950|
|Senior Judge Richard Conaboy||Carter||07/24/1979 - 08/31/1992||1989 - 1992||09/01/1992 - Present||U. of Scranton, B.A., 1945||Catholic U. of America Law, LL.B., 1950|
|Senior Judge Sylvia Rambo||Carter||07/24/1979 - 04/17/2001||1992 - 1999||04/18/2001 - Present||Dickinson College, B.A., 1958||Dickinson Law, J.D., 1962|
|Senior Judge William Caldwell||Reagan||03/19/1982 - 05/30/1994||05/31/1994 - Present||Dickinson College, A.B., 1948||Dickinson Law, LL.B., 1951|
|Senior Judge Edwin Kosik||Reagan||06/16/1986 - 07/14/1996||07/15/1996 - Present||Wilkes College, B.A., 1949||Dickinson Law, LL.B., 1951|
|Magistrate Judge Thomas Blewitt||02/21/1992 - Present||U. of Scranton, B.A., 1972||Temple U. Law, J.D., 1983|
|Magistrate Judge William Arbuckle||07/29/2008 - Present||Grove City College, B.A., 1971||Akron U. Law, J.D., 1974|
|Chief Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson||08/15/2009 - Present||Pennsylvania State U., B.A., 1977||U. of Pennsylvania Law, J.D., 1980|
|Magistrate Judge Susan E. Schwab||12/03/2012 - Present||Wilkes University||Widener University School of Law, 1992|
|Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick||2013-Present||Pennsylvania State University||Tulane University School of Law|
Former Chief judges
|Michael Sheridan||1962 - 1976|
|John William Murphy||1955 - 1962|
|Albert Leisenring Watson||1948 - 1955|
|Richard Conaboy||1989 - 1992|
|William Nealon||1976 - 1989|
|Thomas Vanaskie||1999 - 2006|
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. See 28 U.S.C. § 45.
These rules for Chief Judges in the federal judiciary have been in effect since October 1, 1982. The office of Chief Judge was created in 1948. Until August 6, 1959, the position was filled in each federal court by the longest-serving judge who had not elected to retire on what has since 1958 been known as senior status or declined to serve as Chief Judge. From then until 1982 it was filled by the senior such judge who had not turned 70.
|Seat 1||Seat 2||Seat 3|
|There are no current judges in this category.||There are no current judges in this category.|
|Seat 3T||Seat 4||Seat 5|
|There are no current judges in this category.|
|Magistrate judges||Thomas Blewitt • William Arbuckle • Martin C. Carlson • Susan E. Schwab • Karoline Mehalchick •|
|Former Article III judges||
Thomas Vanaskie • James McClure • Robert Wodrow Archbald • Charles Witmer • Albert Williams Johnson • Albert Leisenring Watson • Frederick Follmer • Robert Herman • John William Murphy • Michael Sheridan •
|Former Chief judges|