Cathy Bissoon
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
Assumed office
October 19, 2011
Appointed byBarack Obama
Preceded byThomas Hardiman
Magistrate Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
In office
2008 – October 19, 2011
Personal details
Cathy Castro[1]

(1968-05-16) May 16, 1968 (age 55)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
EducationAlfred University (BA)
Harvard University (JD)

Cathy Bissoon (born May 16, 1968) is a United States district judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Previously, she was a United States magistrate judge of the same court. She was appointed to as a district judge by President Barack Obama and was confirmed by the United States Senate in October 2011.

Early life and education

Bissoon was born on May 16, 1968, in Brooklyn, New York.[2] Bissoon's father was from Puerto Rico and her mother from Trinidad.[3] When Bissoon was four years old, her father was killed in a stabbing close to the family home in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.[3] Bissoon's mother later remarried and the family moved to Queens, New York.[3] Bissoon attended Alfred University in New York, where she graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in political science in 1990.[4][5] She earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1993.[6][7]


After completing law school, Bissoon joined the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, office of Reed Smith, practicing in the firm's labor and employment group. While at Reed Smith, Bissoon took a one-year leave of absence to serve as a law clerk for Judge Gary L. Lancaster of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.[6] In 2007, Bissoon joined the Pittsburgh law firm of Cohen & Grigsby where she was the Director of the firm's Labor & Employment Group.[4][7]

Federal judicial service

In July 2008, Bissoon was selected to serve as a United States magistrate judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, replacing Judge Francis X. Caiazza.[8] She joined the bench on August 1, 2008, and is the first woman of color to sit on the federal bench in Pittsburgh.[8] Bissoon, who is Hispanic and Indian, is also the first woman of Indian descent to sit on a federal court in the United States.[9]

During the 111th Congress, Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey Jr. recommended Bissoon for a seat on the Western District of Pennsylvania.[5] On November 17, 2010, President Barack Obama formally nominated Bissoon to be a United States district judge,[4] to replace Judge Thomas Hardiman, who was elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on April 2, 2007.[6] On October 17, 2011, the United States Senate confirmed Bissoon by an 82–3 vote.[10] She received her commission on October 19, 2011.[7] With her appointment, Bissoon became the first Hispanic female Article III judge in Pennsylvania and the first Asian American Article III judge in Pennsylvania.[7]

Awards and recognition

Bissoon was honored as one of five finalists for the 2010 Athena Award. The award honors female leaders in the region who demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in business, who provide time and energy to improve the quality of life of others and who actively assist other women in realizing their full leadership potential.

In 2010, Bissoon also was honored by Pittsburgh Professional Women as one of their 2010 Women of Integrity. The award is given to women who have distinguished themselves as leaders who balance career and civic responsibilities, while sharing their success by mentoring others and supporting their communities.

See also


  1. ^ "United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-04-09. Retrieved 2021-03-14.
  2. ^ Senate Judiciary Committee Questionnaire: Cathy Bissoon Archived 2016-04-03 at the Wayback Machine, (November 15, 2010).
  3. ^ a b c Wendy Davis, Cathy Bissoon Archived 2011-07-21 at the Wayback Machine, Law & Diversity (2004).
  4. ^ a b c President Obama Nominates Six to the United States District Court, 11/17/10 Archived 2017-01-18 at the Wayback Machine, (November 17, 2010).
  5. ^ a b Paula Reed Ward, Obama nominates Cathy Bissoon for vacancy on U.S. district court Archived 2023-04-25 at the Wayback Machine, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (November 19, 2010).
  6. ^ a b c Michael Hasch, Magistrate judge gets nomination to federal bench in Western Pa.[permanent dead link], Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (November 18, 2010).
  7. ^ a b c d Cathy Bissoon at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  8. ^ a b Lawyer appointed as U.S. magistrate judge Archived 2011-07-18 at the Wayback Machine, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (July 8, 2008).
  9. ^ "Making History: President Obama's Female Judicial Nominees" (PDF). Alliance for Justice. Retrieved 13 June 2013.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "On the Nomination (Confirmation Cathy Bissoon, of Pennsylvania, to be United States District Judge)". United States Senate. Archived from the original on November 2, 2022. Retrieved November 2, 2022.
Legal offices Preceded byThomas Hardiman Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania 2011–present Incumbent