PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Honorable Lawrence F. Stengel became Chief Judge of the United States District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on August 1, 2017. Judge Stengel has served as a federal judge for over thirteen years and follows the Honorable Petrese B. Tucker as the 14th Chief Judge of this district. One of thirteen original federal judicial districts created by the federal judiciary act of 1789, the Eastern District encompasses Philadelphia, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton counties.
Chief Judge D. Brooks Smith of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals stated, “Larry Stengel is a judge of considerable experience, and someone who has already gained stature as a leader in the federal judiciary. Not only has he served as both a state trial court judge and as a distinguished member of the Eastern District bench, he chairs one of the major committees of the Judicial Conference of the U.S. Now as a chief district judge, Judge Stengel becomes a member of the Judicial Council of the Third Circuit—a body I chair—where I know I can always count on his sound judgment and advice.”
Judge Stengel’s colleague, Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania added, “Unlike in state court, where a vote takes place amongst judges, in federal
court, a seniority formula determines who the next Chief Judge will be. But my very strong sense is that even if we took an actual vote, Judge Stengel would be the unanimous choice next to lead our court. He is universally respected, both nationally and within our court, for his extensive leadership experience, for his judgment and his people skills. Judge Stengel also does not take himself too seriously, which makes him approachable not only to judges but to the entire courthouse community.”
Judge Stengel graduated from St. Joseph’s University and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Stengel began his practice at Dickie, McCamey and Chilcote in Pittsburgh and then opened a litigation practice in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, his hometown. Judge Stengel served for fourteen years as a judge on the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas before his appointment to the federal bench in 2004. In 2015, Chief Justice Roberts appointed Judge Stengel to be Chair of the Judicial Resources Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States. He has served on the Judicial Resources Committee of the Judicial Conference since 2009. Judge Stengel chaired the Subcommittee on Judicial Statistics from 2012 – 2015 and has participated in the Senior Judge Working Group of the Judicial Conference. While a state judge, he was elected to the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges and appointed to serve on the Education Committee of the Conference in 2001. In that capacity, he was the planner for courses on racial disparity in sentencing, evidence law and criminal law procedure. In 2002 he received the President’s Award from the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges. Judge Stengel has served as president of the Lancaster Bar Association and has been Adjunct Professor in the Government Department at Franklin and Marshall College since 1997.
Judge Stengel said, “Chief Judge Tucker provided leadership to our Court through a period of significant transition and she did so with a thoughtful, patient and quietly effective approach. She demonstrated intelligence, understanding and humility, she never did anything to serve her own ego and she has consistently listened and worked toward consensus. Our judges are grateful to Chief Judge Tucker for her commitment to our Court and for her unwavering dedication to the process of delivering equal justice to the citizens of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She has every right to be proud of her legacy of leadership to our Court.”
The Honorable Petrese B. Tucker has been Chief Judge of the Eastern District for three years. Judge Tucker was appointed to the bench of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in 1999. As Chief Judge, she oversaw the hiring of a new Clerk of Court, promoted the nationally recognized Eastern District of Pennsylvania Re-Entry Court, supported IT and courtroom improvements and exercised authority over one of the busiest federal courthouses in the United States. Prior to becoming federal judge, Judge Tucker served for thirteen years as a judge in the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the Barristers Association of Philadelphia, past member of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. As a member of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania National and American Bar Associations, Judge Tucker chaired and worked on many committees and has received numerous distinguished service awards for her noteworthy contributions to the community.
The Honorable Cynthia M. Rufe of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said, “The improvements made to the administration of our Court during Petrese Tucker’s tenure as Chief Judge are the direct result of the effective collaboration of our judges with Chief Judge Tucker’s leadership. I have been privileged to work closely with Petrese on Court administrative and
ceremonial matters and have been most impressed with her unfailing dedication to resolving all issues for the good of our Court, its litigants and counsel. Chief Judge Tucker will always be admired for her grace and courage, as well as her ready smile. Her serene countenance belies her sharp and perceptive mind, and all of her skills were well put to the many formidable tasks of moving our Court forward, administratively. Petrese Tucker has set a high bar for her successors, but few are as ready and able as Judge Larry Stengel who will bring his own congenial and effective style to this important role. We wish them both well.”
The Eastern District of Pennsylvania is headquartered at the James A. Byrne Courthouse in Philadelphia and has three divisional courthouses in Allentown, Reading and Easton with a courthouse staff of over two-hundred employees. The Chief Judge oversees the administration of the district which includes the offices of the Clerk of Court, Probation, Pre-Trial Services and Bankruptcy. The district has twenty-two active judgeships, twelve senior judges, as well as six bankruptcy, ten magistrate judges and three inactive senior judges, and is the third largest federal district court in the nation.