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8th Floor

Ceremonial Courtrooms

Article III, § 1, of the United States Constitution provides that “The Judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” ( U.S. Const., Art. III, § 1.) Among the legislative powers granted to Congress is the power “To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court.” (U.S. Const., Art. I, § 8.) This Court, which is called the “United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania,” is such an “inferior” federal tribunal.
Congress has allotted ten seats to this Court. (28 U.S.C. § 133.) Article III judges are appointed by the President of the United States, with the advice and consent of the Senate. (U.S. Const., Art. II, § 2.) They “hold their Offices during good Behaviour,” which means that they enjoy life tenure unless they are “removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” (U.S. Const., Art. III, § 1; U.S. Const., Art. II, § 4.)


Ceremonial Courtroom
      


Under certain circumstances, a judge who has both attained a certain age and served for a specified number of years may retain his or her office but retire from regular active service. (28 U.S.C. § 371(b)-(e).) Judges who exercise this option are said to enjoy “retirement in senior status.” (28 U.S.C. § 371.) Senior judges have a smaller caseload than active judges. Judge Maurice Cohill, Judge Gustave Diamond and Judge Alan Bloch, all of whom maintain their courtrooms on this floor, are senior judges. Judge Cohill was appointed by President Gerald R. Ford on June 1, 1976. He assumed senior status on December 1, 1994. Judge Diamond was appointed by President James E. Carter on May 2, 1978. He assumed senior status on February 1, 1994. Judge Bloch was appointed by President James E. Carter on November 2, 1979. He assumed senior status on April 12, 1997. One seat on the Court is presently vacant. Among the nine active judges currently serving on the Court, three were appointed by President Bill Clinton and six were appointed by President George W. Bush.
Over the years, Judge Cohill’s courtroom has been used to film several movies. Among the movies filmed in Judge Cohill’s courtroom were “Silent Witness” (1985), “Guilty Until Proven Innocent” (1991), and “Against Her Will: An Incident in Baltimore” (1992). Judge Cohill is a former cheerleader for Princeton. He once appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. Judge Diamond once played college football for the Duke Blue Devils. He served as the United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania before being appointed to the bench. Judge Bloch has a sister who serves as a state court judge in California.
Judge Gerald Weber, a former judge who used to maintain his chambers on the eighth floor, issued a well-known opinion in a case in which the plaintiff sued Satan and his staff, alleging that they had caused the plaintiff’s downfall in violation of his constitution rights.