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7th Floor and Grand Jury Room

Courthouse Virtual Tour

The 7th floor is home to the grand jury room and the courtrooms of Judges Cercone and Schwab.

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that charges for all capital and "infamous" crimes be brought by an indictment returned by a grand jury.

Federal grand juries are composed of between 16 and 23 individuals. A quorum - or a minimum of 16 grand jurors - must be present for a grand jury to conduct business, such as considering whether charges should be brought against someone or investigating criminal activity.

Grand jurors are selected in the same manner as petit jurors. They serve for a term of 18 months, which can be extended in certain circumstances for an additional 6 months. We have several grand jury panels convening in any given year.

A prosecutor must convince the grand jury that a prima facie criminal case has been established. The grand jury can compel witnesses to testify before it. Unlike the trial itself, the grand jury's proceedings are secret; the defendant and his or her counsel are generally not present for other witnesses' testimony.

Petit jurors are the trial jurors. They listen to evidence introduced in court, deliberate, and issue a verdict. Verdicts in criminal and civil cases must be unanimous. A criminal jury consists of at least 12 jurors. Civil juries are comprised of a minimum of 6 jurors and no more than 12.

Some of those who have been indicted by the grand jury, or who have appeared in the courtrooms on the seventh floor, are the Pagans, members of La Costra Nostra, a former president of Pittsburgh City Council, Tommy Chang, and Cyril Wecht. In 1985, the grand jury’s activities in Pittsburgh made national headlines with the contain scandal involving Major League Baseball. The baseball players called to testify before the grand jury included Dale Berra, Dave Parker, Willie Aikens and Keith Hernandez. The Pirate Parrot was even implicated for buying cocaine and introducing a few of the ball players to a drug dealer.

Judge David Cercone maintains his chambers on the seventh floor. Prior to becoming a federal judge, Judge Cercone, at 32 years of age, became the youngest elected judge to serve on the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. Justice Michael Musmanno of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was Judge Cercone’s uncle. Justice Musmanno was a member of the tribunal court for the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.

Judge Arthur Schwab’s chambers is also located on the seventh floor. Judge Schwab’s artwork and furniture were featured in a Wall Street Journal article. Included in the artwork is an original Gainsborough. The walls in Judge Schwab’s courtroom are decorated with quilts made by his wife.

Not all of the Magistrate Judges are located on the 9th Floor. Magistrate Judge Lisa Lenihan’s courtroom and chambers are located on this floor.