Judge Bios

Schwelb, Frank E.

Appointed: May 5, 1988

Judge Schwelb was born in Czechoslovakia, and came to the United States in

1947. He was a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, and served two

years in the U.S. Army. Following his graduation from law school in 1958, Judge Schwelb

was associated for for years with the New York firm of Mudge, Stern, Baldwin and Todd

(now Mudge, Rose, Guthrie and Alexander), where he specialized in litigation. In 1962, he

joined the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, and served with that Division

for more than seventeen years. Originally a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division

assigned primarily to voting rights cases in Mississippi (1962), Judge Schwelb was

successively appointed Deputy Chief of the Eastern Section (1966), Chief of the Eastern

Section (January 1969), Chief of the Housing Section (October 1969( and Special

Counsel for Litigation (1979), and he handled or supervised virtually every kind of civil

rights case. From 1969 to 1979, as Chief of the Housing Section (later renamed the

Housing and Credit Section), Judge Schwelb was in charge of fair housing and equal credit

litigation for the United States.

From September 1976 to June 1977, Judge Schwelb was detailed to the

Department of Health, Education adn Welfare as Special Counsel to the Secretary’s

Review Panel on New Drug Regulation. In that capacity, Judge Schwelb investigated

allegations of improper conduct and internal mismanagement at th Food and Drug

Administration, issued comprehensive reports on his finding, and recommended remedial


While Judge Schwelb’s prime area of responsibility related to equal opportunity

litigation, he also was interested in civil liberties issues, especially as they affect the criminal

justice system. At the Department of Justice, he informally served as a civil liberties

specialist, and prepared a comprehensive proposal designed to promote greater

responsiveness by the Department to civil liberties concerns. As Special Counsel for

Litigation, he was in charge of the Department’s litigation program relating to allegedly

sexually discriminatory strip searching of women by law enforcement agencies various

parts of the country.

In 1967, Judge Schwelb received the Younger Federal Lawyer of th Year Award

from the Federal Bar Association. He is the author of a number of scholarly articles and has

lectured widely to bar associations, law schools, and other organizations on fair housing and

related areas. In the District of Columbia, Judge Schwelb worked closely with organizations

promoting equal opportunity.