Judge Van Antwerpen graduated from the University of Maine with a dual degree in Physics and Electrical Engineering. He then attended Temple University Beasley School of Law and graduated with a J.D. Degree in 1967. In 1970 he left a corporate law position in New York City and became Chief Counsel of the Northampton County Pennsylvania Legal Aid Society. Following that, he became a member and partner in the Easton, Pennsylvania law firm of Hemstreet, Smith and Van Antwerpen. In 1979 he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas and elected to a 10-year term in 1982. He obtained the backing of both political parties. While he was on the state bench, he was instrumental in rewriting the Pennsylvania Domestic Relations Code.
In 1987 Judge Van Antwerpen was appointed to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He became nationally known when, in 1988, he conducted a trial involving all 17 members of the Philadelphia mafia and sentenced them to long prison terms. Judge Van Antwerpen was nominated by President Bush to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and sworn in as a Circuit Judge on
June 1, 2004. He served for many years as a lecturer on the law of evidence for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute. He also served as Chairman of the Criminal Business Committee of the U. S. District Court, and served on the Defender Services Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States. He was Chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Defender funding.
Judge Van Antwerpen has received numerous awards, including the Law Enforcement Commendation Medal of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, the Law Day Award of the Temple Law School Alumni Association, and the Alumni Career Award of the University of Maine. He is married and has three children.