Arthur J. Schwab

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Arthur James Schwab
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
Assumed office
January 1, 2018
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
In office
September 17, 2002 – January 1, 2018
Appointed byGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byMaurice B. Cohill, Jr.
Succeeded byvacant
Personal details
Arthur James Schwab

1946 (age 72–73)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
EducationGrove City College (A.B.)
University of Virginia School of Law (J.D.)

Arthur James Schwab (born 1946) is a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Early life, education, and career[edit]

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Schwab received an Artium Baccalaureus from Grove City College, Pennsylvania in 1968 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1972.[1] He served in the Pennsylvania National Guard from 1968 to 1978, and was a law clerk in a Pennsylvania private practice in 1972, and to Chief Judge Collins J. Seitz of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit from 1972 to 1973.

He was in private practice in Pennsylvania from 1973 to 2002. He began teaching as an adjunct professor at Grove City College, Pennsylvania, in 2001.

Federal judicial service[edit]

On January 23, 2002, Schwab was nominated by President George W. Bush to a seat on the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania vacated by Maurice B. Cohill, Jr.. Schwab was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 13, 2002, and received his commission on September 17, 2002. He assumed senior status on January 1, 2018.

In 2008, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Schwab had the "lowest ranking among federal judges" by 797 lawyers in the Allegheny County Bar Association.[2]

In 2011, he was accused of bias and recused himself from seventeen ongoing cases.[3]

Tommy Chong case[edit]

In 2003, Schwab presided over the case involving Tommy Chong's trial for conspiracy to distribute drug paraphernalia (bongs), and sentenced him to nine months in federal prison, as well as a hefty financial penalty.[4]

Cyril Wecht case[edit]

In 2008, Schwab presided over and was eventually removed from the Cyril Wecht federal trial, a case that caused considerable controversy. The defendant, a prominent Democrat in Pennsylvania, alleged that Judge Schwab was biased and the prosecution was political in nature and sought to have Judge Schwab removed, but was turned down. Among the controversial decisions that Schwab made was seeking to keep the names of jurors anonymous, a tactic usually reserved for criminal cases where the jurors may be in danger. This was overturned by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. [5]

After Schwab declared the original trial a mistrial, he was criticized for not following proper procedures before declaring a mistrial, such as polling the jury which would have determined if the defendant should be retried on all counts or just one.[6]

One month later he was removed from presiding over the retrial. The Appellate court cited a "combative tenor" in the proceedings and hoped for "reduced level of rancor."[7] On May 14, 2009, the new judge in the case tossed out most of the evidence against Wecht stating it was seized under unconstitutional warrants[8] On June 2, all charges were dropped against Cyril Wecht.[9]

West Penn Allegheny Health System v UPMC case[edit]

In 2012, Schwab presided over the West Penn Allegheny Health System v University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) case, and in a rare move, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals removed him from case. According to Pittsburgh Post Gazette, "It's rare for a federal judge to get yanked from a case, and twice in four years gets everyone's attention."[10]

Juarez-Escobar Case[edit]

On December 16, 2014, Schwab wrote that President Obama's executive action on immigration was unconstitutional[11] in a case involving a Honduran man facing criminal charges for returning to the United States after being deported.[12][13] Whether the discussion of the President's policy was necessary or appropriate to resolve the case before the court has been questioned.[14]


  1. ^ "Judge Schwab" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-12-17. Retrieved 2014-12-17.
  2. ^ "Judge in Wecht case gets rock-bottom ranking from lawyers". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  3. ^ "Accused of Bias, Judge Recuses Himself from 17 Ongoing Cases". Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  4. ^ "Tommy Chong gets the joint". September 13, 2003.
  5. ^ Jason Cato (2008-08-02). "Court rules names of jurors must be public". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
  6. ^ Jason Cato (2008-08-05). "Panel criticizes Wecht judge". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
  7. ^ Jason Cato (2008-09-06). "Federal appeals court removes Wecht judge". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
  8. ^ Jason Cato (2009-05-14). "Judge tosses evidence in remaining Wecht corruption charges". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Archived from the original on 2013-01-04.
  9. ^ Jason Cato (2009-05-14). "Charges against Cyril H. Wecht to be dismissed". Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
  10. ^ Jason Cato (2012-03-30). "Experts: Pulling judge from case is rare; impeachment even rarer". Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
  11. ^ "US judge says Obama immigration action invalid". Washington Post. 2014-12-16.
  12. ^ "Federal Judge Calls Obama's Immigration Actions Unlawful". New York Times. 2014-12-16. Retrieved 2014-12-17.
  13. ^ United States v. Juarez-Escobar, no. 14-0180 (W.D. Penn., Dec. 16, 2014) (memorandum opinion and order). Accessed Dec. 17, 2014.
  14. ^ "District Court Declares Obama Immigration Action Unconstitutional (Updated)". Washington Post. 2014-12-17. Retrieved 2014-12-17.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Maurice B. Cohill, Jr.
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania