The Honorable Lawrence Stengel has been named as the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Lots of other people are more qualified than I to comment on Judge Stengel’s work, his judgment and his interaction with thousands of people that have appeared before him. But I have one story about Judge Stengel that demonstrates his quality on the bench.
Now attorneys don’t always tell the best stories. There is often a lot of detail that we cannot put into our stories because of confidentiality. Unfortunately, this is one of those times so some details are omitted to “protect the innocent” as they say.
I was a new lawyer, maybe one or two years out of law school. I inherited a zoning enforcement case from one of the senior partners. It was one of those cases that literally went on for decades. The land owner would violate zoning and the municipality would get an order to enforce its zoning ordinance. The owner would refuse, and one of the Judges in the Court of Common Pleas would issue an order to the land owner. The land owner would still refuse to comply, and the Court would issue a citation for contempt of court. The citation for contempt would keep the land owner on the straight and narrow for a little while. But after a few years, the whole process would repeat itself. Continue Reading A Day in Judge Stengel’s Courtroom