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Branch Leader - Judicial

Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill

Eastern California U.S. District Court

Lawrence Joseph O’Neill was born in September 1952 in Oakland, California. He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley, a Master of Public Administration from Golden State University, and a Juris Doctor from the University of California Hastings College of Law. He clerked at the First Appellate Court, California Court of Appeal. He served as a police officer for the City of San Leandro while pursuing his master’s degree.

O’Neill entered into the private practice of law in Fresno. He was an adjunct professor at San Joaquin College of Law in Clovis, and served as a judge on the Fresno County Superior Court.

He served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California before being nominated by President George W. Bush to a seat on that court. He was confirmed by the Senate and received his commission in February 2007. He became Chief Judge in June 2016.

In the News

In a letter to the White House along with Senators Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris of California, the presiding judge of the Eastern California U.S. District Court warned about the potential for a “catastrophe” with impending retirements on the court with the highest caseload in the nation for more than two decades.

“The statement sounds serious and ominous. It is both,” he said of the potential catastrophe. “It may also sound like an exaggeration. It is not.”

The court, which represents a district of about 8.5 million people, is three months away from losing one-third of its judges to retirement, the letter says. The elected officials must fill two of the court’s impending vacancies soon or risk the due process of defendants, Judge O’Neill wrote.

“In addition, based on the high and increasing numbers of criminal indictments being brought in the Eastern District of California, there exists a high possibility that a number of criminal cases will have to be dismissed due to an inability to comply with the Speedy Trial Act,” the letter says.

The confirmation process for judges can be time-consuming, so elected officials should act quickly, Judge O’Neill admonished.

The Eastern District of California stretches from the Oregon border in the north to the Tehachapi Mountains in the south, and is the largest of the state’s four federal judicial districts.


Did you pray for Judge O’Neill today? You can let him know at:

The Honorable Lawrence J. O’Neill
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
Robert E. Coyle U.S. Courthouse
2500 Tulare St.
Fresno, CA 93721