Congress Honors Pitt Law Alumnus Judge Joseph F. Weis Jr., Dedicates Pittsburgh Federal Courthouse In His Name

Judge Joseph F. Weis Jr. was known for his strong leadership and longevity on the federal judiciary and as a humble teacher and alumnus of Pitt Law. Judge Weis had been a judge on the 3rd Circuit since 1973 until his retirement at age 90. He died on March 19, 2014, at 91. In his honor, Congress approved a law this year naming the Pittsburgh federal courthouse the “Joseph F. Weis Jr. United States Courthouse.” The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held a special dedication session on Nov. 20 at the courthouse.

A World War II combat veteran awarded the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster, Weis graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1950. He worked in private practice until 1968 when he became an Allegheny County Common Pleas Court judge. Two years later, he was appointed to a federal judge position in Pittsburgh and was appointed to the 3rd Circuit in 1973.  

Judge Weis is perhaps most known for his appointment by Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist to the chairmanship of The Federal Courts Study Committee in 1989. From there Congress quickly enacted Judge Weis’ numerous recommendations and changes in just 15 months.

Pitt Law Professor Arthur Hellman noted to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review how that speed of adoption was “astonishingly fast, considering the breadth of the subject and the depth of the report.”

Weis was a strong leader who had the ability to bring people together, which was important on a committee with several “high-powered people on it,” Hellman told the Tribune-Review.

Read more in "Federal courthouse in Pittsburgh to be renamed after late judge" in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Read more in "Ceremony Nov. 20 to rename federal courthouse in honor of Judge Weis" in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.