Hardiman newest judge on federal appeals court

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Even as they were praising the newest member of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Thomas M. Hardiman's friends and colleagues were already looking toward the future.

V.W.H. Campbell Jr., Post-Gazette
U.S. Sen. Arlan Specter congratulates Thomas M. Hardiman at his judicial installation ceremony.
Click photo for larger image.

"You have a great career ahead of you," said Sen. Arlen Specter, who nominated Judge Hardiman for both his old and new seats. "Who knows when lightning will strike on another promotion?"

Just 3 1/2 years after taking a position as a judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Judge Hardiman will now move on to the appeals court.

He was sworn in at the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse on Grant Street, in the second of two such ceremonies yesterday afternoon.

The first was the investiture ceremony for newly appointed U.S. District Court Judge Nora Barry Fischer.

She was nominated to the court in July.

Ms. Fischer, a former partner at the Downtown law firm of Pietragallo Bosick & Gordon, fills the spot of former Judge Robert J. Cindrich, who left the bench in 2004 to become chief legal counsel for UPMC.

During her swearing-in, friends and colleagues spoke of her large family -- she's one of eight children -- as well as her determined work ethic.

"Her diligence and energy are unsurpassed," said her friend and law partner, William Pietragallo II.

He also noted her work championing the cause of women lawyers in Pennsylvania.

When she spoke, Judge Fischer noted that she was the first female attorney at the firm she joined 30 years ago, and on her first day overheard a senior partner say, "Send the little broad in."

Since then, she has worked to promote women in the field, including recognizing the first 100 female lawyers in Allegheny County, and as an active member of the Executive Women's Council of Pittsburgh.

She also is a past president of the Academy of Trial Lawyers for Allegheny County.

Both Senators Specter and Robert Casey attended the two ceremonies yesterday.

During his comments before Judge Hardiman, Sen. Specter mentioned that he and former Sen. Rick Santorum talked about the judge's youth when nominating him for the Western District seat back in 2003.

"He and I spotted Tom a long time ago, when he was 38 years old," Sen. Specter said. "We had a little debate if he was old enough to be a district judge."

They had the same debate this time around, as well, he said.

Chief U.S. District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose praised Judge Hardiman for his work and friendship in his brief time on the district court.

"In that short time, he has left an indelible mark ..." she said, "a legacy that will continue to influence the court for many years."

Paula Reed Ward can be reached at pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.


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