As U.S. District Court Judge Thomas M. Hardiman and his family gathered around the television on Thursday to watch the Senate confirmation vote on his nomination to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, his 6-year-old daughter asked, "Is 'yea' good, Daddy?"
"Marissa, of course it's good," her 12-year-old sister chastised her.
And after a short time, they learned that their father had been confirmed to the court by a unanimous vote of 95 to 0.
His tentative installation is scheduled for April 5. The judge will continue to work out of the federal courthouse in Pittsburgh.
"The past three-plus years have been the most rewarding I've spent in the law, both because of the nature of the work and the caliber of people with whom I have had the privilege of serving," Judge Hardiman said.
"The work of an appellate judge is different than that of a trial judge, but I look forward to the intellectual challenges that it presents."
The two positions are vastly different. Instead of presiding over cases, handing down sentences and having daily interaction with litigants and lawyers, Judge Hardiman will move into a very cerebral position.
His days will be spent reading lengthy briefs, directing legal research, conferring with fellow judges, and writing opinions.
He will likely sit for oral argument about six times each year, most often in Philadelphia, though argument is occasionally heard in other cities in the circuit, including Pittsburgh.
Judge Hardiman, 41, joined the District Court in November 2003.
Chief U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose said her colleague will be sorely missed.
"It's a huge loss for us, and a wonderful additional for the Court of Appeals," she said.
Judge Hardiman, who is known in the courthouse for delivering well-reasoned, thoughtful comments during criminal proceedings, grew up in the blue-collar neighborhood of Waltham, Mass., and was in the first generation of his family to go to college.
He did his undergraduate work at the University of Notre Dame and went to law school at Georgetown University.
He and his wife, the former Lori Zappala, have three children.
Paula Reed Ward can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-2620.