Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, November 10, 2003


Page 5


Bush Nominates Pennsylvania Jurist to Serve on U.S. District Court


By a MetNews Staff Writer


President Bush has nominated Judge Lawrence F. Stengel to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Stengel, 51, was nominated on Thursday. He practiced law in Pittsburgh and Lancaster before being named to the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas in 1990.

He hears criminal and civil cases, but is perhaps best known as a result of the Lisa Lambert case. Lambert was convicted of the 1991 murder of Laurie Show, who had briefly datedóand was allegedly raped byóLambertís boyfriend, who implicated Lambert and entered into a plea bargain.

Stengel rejected charges of police and prosecutorial misconduct and denied Lambertís state habeas corpus petition. But U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell, of the same court on which Stengel would serve if confirmed, later issued a highly unusual ruling, not only declaring that Lambert was the victim of government misconduct, but finding her actually innocent and ordering her release from prison.

The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Dalzell on procedural grounds, and Lambert was returned to prison.

Stengelís nomination followed the nominations, earlier in the week, of Gene E. K. Pratter to be a judge of the same court, U.S. Attorney William S. Duffey Jr. of the Northern District of Georgia to be a U.S. district judge for that district, and Trenton, N.J. attorney Peter G. Sheridan to be a judge for the District of New Jersey.

Pratter, 54, is a partner at Duane Morris, one of Philadelphiaís largest law firms, where she practices commercial and real estate law. She has also represented the Philadelphia Zoo.

Duffey is a former partner in Atlantaís King & Spalding who did both civil and criminal litigation before he was appointed U.S. attorney two years ago. He left private practice briefly to serve as deputy independent counsel in charge of the Arkansas phase of the Whitewater investigation.

Sheridan, 53, has represented state Republicans for a decade, and last year sought to prevent former Sen. Frank Lautenberg from replacing then-Sen. Robert G. Torricelli as the Democratic nominee.

An aide to Lautenberg told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the senator bore no ill will as a result of Sheridanís involvement in that case, but that he opposes the nomination because it will alter the numerical balance between judges from the northern and southern parts of the state. A spokesman for Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., said Corzine agreed with Lautenberg and would fight the nomination.


Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company