The chief judge of the Western District of Pennsylvania was found dead in his Stanton Heights home Wednesday night.
The death of Judge Gary L. Lancaster, 63, is being treated as natural, according to the Allegheny County medical examiner's office.
Police and the medical examiner's office responded to his Rosecrest Drive home.
He was pronounced dead at 6:53 p.m. after he was found unresponsive in his bedroom.
The judge was born in Brownsville, Fayette County, and received a bachelor's degree from Slippery Rock University and attended law school at the University of Pittsburgh.
Judge Lancaster was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania by President Bill Clinton and took his oath in December 1993.
He became chief judge in September 2009 and was the first African-American chief judge in the district.
Timothy K. Lewis, who served as federal district court judge immediately before Judge Lancaster, said he rose through the ranks because of "hard work, determination, and focus."
"He was a kind, thoughtful and gentle person, always willing to listen and willing to offer views, but never in a harsh way," said Mr. Lewis. "That's the kind of thing you look for in a judge -- someone who brings compassion and intellectual integrity and fairness to his work."