Judge Profile

Donetta W. Ambrose

Judicial Experience:

  • Judge, U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, Appointed

Other Professional Experience:

  • Partner, Ambrose & Ambrose, 1974 to 1983
  • Assistant District Attorney, Westmoreland County, 1977 to 1981
  • Assistant Attorney General, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 1972 to 1981
  • Law Clerk, Pennsylvania Supreme Court, 1971 to 1972
  • Law Clerk, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, 1970 to 1971
  • Judge, Court of Common Pleas, Westmoreland County, 1982-1993


  • JD, Duquesne University School of Law, 1970
  • BA, Duquesne University, 1967

Professional Civic Activities/Honors/Awards:

  • Pennsylvania Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • American Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • American Judicature Society
  • National Association of Women Judges
  • Women's Bar Association of Western Pennsylvania
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association, Commission on Women in the Profession
  • Westmoreland County Bar Association
  • Pennsylvania Bar Foundation


  • Anne Kurzweg, Law Clerk
  • Heidi Grogan, Law Clerk
  • Sherry Halfhill, Law Clerk


  • Describe motions practice in your court. Are there any local practices that attorneys should be aware of? All motions shall be accompanied by a brief except extensions of time, and continuances. Briefs must contain all relevant information, be no longer than 20 pages, and filed at the same time as the motion. Reply briefs may be filed by permission only, and be no longer than five pages. Judge Ambrose requires that all motions and briefs be double spaced and in font no smaller than 12 points. She does not require courtesy copies.

  • Are there any special practices or procedures lawyers appearing before you should know about? Judge Ambrose expects Counsel to attend conferences and cannot participate by telephone, unless permission is otherwise granted in advance. Parties must either attend or be available by telephone.

  • Any suggestions, admonitions or recommendations you would make to lawyers appearing before you? Preparation for trial: "I think generally that the lawyers are prepared. I guess I don't have the same concerns that I have heard expressed by others, about ill-prepared lawyers and frivolous lawsuits, because I have not seen it." On changes needed in courtroom: "I think that you see a lot of posturing (in the courtroom) that could be eliminated. I think the juries appreciate that as well. If you stick to the issue, if you stay with what is relevant, you'll get a better reception from the jury and the court and there will be a lot more efficiency in trial." (PLW) 5. Our Court is completely ECF (Electronic Case Filing).

  • Does the court accept filings by e-mail? Our court is completely ECF (Electronic Case Filing)