Campus Events

Honorable Cynthia M. (Favata) Rufe ‘70: Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award Recipient

United States District Judge
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Federal Judges Association

The Honorable Cynthia M. Rufe is a Judge of the United States Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Her appointment by President George W. Bush to an Article III judgeship was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2002. Judge Rufe previously was elected to the Pennsylvania trial court in 1993 and served on the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas for eight years until she assumed her current position.

Judge Rufe graduated from Bristol Borough High School (1966), Adelphi University (B.A. Political Science and Education, 1970) and the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School (Juris Doctor, 1977). She was an outstanding student recognized by both her peers and faculty in each scholastic setting. She was Editor in Chief of her high school newspaper, year book editor, National Honor Society member and active in many service, music and drama clubs. At Adelphi University she served as Co-President of the Student Association, President of Lantern, the senior women’s honorary, Class President 1968-69, and received Adelphi University’s Outstanding Senior Woman Award. As a law student, Judge Rufe was the first woman to receive the Erie County Bar Association’s Trial Lawyer’s Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy. She also received honors for her course work, including her participation in the Buffalo Law Clinic.

Upon graduation from law school, Judge Rufe returned to Pennsylvania and began her legal career in the Defender Office in Bucks County, representing indigent defendants, juveniles and mental patients. She also coordinated its Juvenile Division and continued throughout her tenure to represent delinquent, dependent, abused and neglected children. She served as Deputy Public Defender and personally supervised the expansion of the office, training both legal and support staff. In addition to her supervisory duties, she maintained a full trial caseload, including homicide and major felony cases. Judge Rufe maintained law offices in Bucks County from 1982 to 1993, practicing criminal and civil litigation, family law and specializing in child abuse cases. She served at that time as the Solicitor for the Bucks County Children and Youth Social Services Agency. Before entering the legal profession, Judge Rufe taught high school American history and social studies.

While a state judge, the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania appointed Judge Rufe to its Appellate Procedural Rules Committee. She also served on the Education Committee of the Pennsylvania Trial Judges Conference presenting educational programs to the state trial judges. Since her induction to the federal bench, she has been designated a visiting judge to sit with the appeals courts of the Third and Ninth Circuits. She has also been selected to lead several multi-district litigations and is currently leading In Re: Generic Pharmaceuticals Pricing Antitrust Litigation. Judge Rufe was appointed to a State – Federal Multi- Jurisdiction Task Force which developed a manual on coordinating mass tort and related cases between the state and federal courts.

Judge Rufe devotes many hours to civics education, chairing her Court’s Judicial Outreach and Public Relations Committee and co- chairing the Third Circuit Courts and Community Committee. Under her direction, the Eastern District’s outreach efforts have earned national recognition as models of lawrelated educational programs. She has partnered with the Administrative Office of the US Courts, the National Constitution Center, the American Bar Association, Federal Bar Association, state and local bar associations, schools and civic groups to promote civics education, including her latest project for the Third Circuit, developing an adult civics education pilot program launching this Fall at the Community College of Philadelphia. In addition, she is a frequent panelist and presenter on diversity in the legal profession.

After being elected by her Circuit as a Director and then serving on the Executive Committee and as President-Elect, Judge Rufe now serves as President of the Federal Judges Association, the national voluntary organization of United States federal judges who are appointed pursuant to Article III of the Constitution. The mission of the FJA is to support and enhance the role of its members within a fair, impartial and independent judiciary, to actively build a community of interest among its member judges of the District and Appellate courts, and to sustain our system of justice through civics   education and public outreach.

The Philadelphia Bar Association selected Judge Rufe as its recipient for the Sandra Day O’Connor Award, an honor conferred on women in the law who serve as role models and mentors in the legal profession. This year, Judge Rufe was honored by the Lawyer’s Club of Philadelphia for her dedication and outstanding service as a Judge for 25 years, and by her law school Alumni Association for her “Conscientious and Diligent Performance in the Judiciary” (2012). She was also honored by the Pennsylvania Commission for Social Justice, which presented her its Law and Justice Award for her outstanding contributions to the ideals of law and justice for all citizens. In 1999, A Woman’s Place honored Judge Rufe by awarding her the M.J. Kirkpatrick Award for Leadership in recognition of her work to end domestic violence, especially as it affects children.

Judge Rufe is married to the Honorable John J. Rufe, retired, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County. Together they enjoy their five shared daughters and six grandchildren.