Patty Shwartz

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

  • Court Circuit Court

On October 5, 2011, President Obama nominated Patty Shwartz to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  Ms. Shwartz currently serves as Magistrate Judge for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.


Ms. Shwartz was born in Patterson, New Jersey in 1961.  She received her B.A. from Rutgers University in 1983 and her J.D. from University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1986.  After law school, Shwartz entered private practice for one year at Pepper, Hamilton and Scheetz before serving as law clerk to Judge Harold A. Ackerman from 1987 to 1989.  Following her clerkship, Shwartz began a 14 year stint as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.  While at the USAO, she served as Deputy Chief and Chief of the criminal division, as well as Executive Assistant to the U.S. Attorney.  She was appointed as a Magistrate Judge in the District of New Jersey in 2003.

Legal Experience

Ms. Shwartz began her law practice as an associate in the labor department of Pepper, Hamilton & Scheetz (now Pepper Hamilton LLP), where she worked for the year prior to her clerkship with Judge Ackerman on general labor matters and employment discrimination cases.

After her clerkship, Shwartz joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in 1989.  In this capacity, she handled violent crime, drug and white collar crime cases.  She spent several years in the Special Prosecutions Division which focused on public corruption cases.  In 1995, Shwartz was promoted to Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division and to Chief of the Criminal Division in 1999.  In 2001, Shwartz was appointed Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney where she supervised the Criminal, Civil, and Fraud Divisions.  She returned to Chief of the Criminal Division in 2002 where she remained until her appointment as a Magistrate Judge in 2003.

While at the USAO, Ms. Shwartz investigated, prosecuted, and supervised hundreds of criminal cases in federal district court.  She appeared in federal court regularly, although her court appearances decreased as she took on supervisory responsibilities.  She tried more than 15 cases to verdict, all jury trials.   Among her most significant cases as an AUSA were United States v. Smith, 294 F.3d 473 (3d Cir. 2002), a case in which she represented the government against five police officers convicted of violating civil rights of an individual who the officers falsely suspected of murdering a fellow police officer and whom the officers brutally beat.  In another case for the government, United States v. Pollard, 986 F.2d 44 (3d Cir 1993), Ms. Shwartz prosecuted two defendants charged with drugging and kidnapping minor boys and sexually abusing them.  One defendant pled guilty and the remaining defendant was convicted.

Judicial Experience

As a Magistrate Judge in the District of New Jersey, Ms. Shwartz has had more than 4,000 civil cases referred to her for all aspects of pretrial process.  In addition, Ms. Shwartz has been asked to prepare reports and recommendations on dispositive motions for District Court Judges.  In cases where both parties consent to Ms. Shwartz’s jurisdiction, she has served as presiding judge through the entire proceeding.  Under such jurisdiction she has presided over ten civil jury trials, three civil bench trials, twenty misdemeanor criminal cases, and one criminal jury trial.

Among the notable opinions written by Ms. Shwartz is Dewey v. Volkswagen of America, 728 F. Supp. 2d 546, in which she granted class certification for a class of 5.5 million automobile owners who purchased cars with leaking sunroofs.  In this case she approved a $90 million settlement and $9.2 million in attorney’s fees.  In another matter before Ms. Shwartz, Mayer v. Gottheiner, 382 F. Supp. 2d 635, the plaintiff alleged violations of his First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, claiming violations when officers failed to investigate his claims, pushed him causing him to injure his back and retaliated against him by issuing a citation.   She granted the defendant officer’s motion for summary judgment.

Professional and Academic Activities

Ms. Shwartz has taught a course on discovery and pretrial process at Fordham University School of Law three times since 2009.  She has judged multiple mock trial and mock oral argument competitions for Fordham University and the John C. Lifland American Inn of Court (formerly the John J. Gibbons American Inn of Court.)  She has also lead CLE presentations on federal practice and criminal practice.