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Fisher sworn in as federal judge

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

By Torsten Ove, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pennsylvania's political and judicial elite turned out in force yesterday for Attorney General Mike Fisher's swearing-in as a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, left, congratulates outgoing state Attorney General Mike Fisher, right, yesterday at Fisher's inauguration ceremony for his seat as a judge for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. (Robin Rombach, Post-Gazette)

"This is the way the process should work," Gov. Ed Rendell said of the bipartisan support that led to Fisher's unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate. "It wasn't viewed as a partisan thing. It was viewed as getting a very qualified person onto a very important court."

Rendell, a Democrat, beat the Republican Fisher in last year's race for governor but had nothing but praise for him during the standing-room-only ceremony in the ornate courtroom of Chief U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose.

The governor said Fisher is a fair man and joked that the new judge resisted the temptation to smear him during the campaign "almost all of the time."

Republican U.S. Sens. Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum said Fisher's 35-year record of public service is unparalleled, and other speakers spoke of Fisher's resume and integrity.

"Mike will be a fine judge because he's an honest and fair person," said Ralph Cappy, chief justice of Pennsylvania.

Fisher, 59, of Upper St. Clair, has served as attorney general since 1996. Previously, he served in the state General Assembly for 22 years.

He will fill the seat of the late Judge Carol Los Mansmann, who hired him in 1970 as a local prosecutor when she was serving in the Allegheny County district attorney's office. Mansmann, of Sewickley, died in March 2002.

Before he donned his robe, Fisher formally resigned as attorney general. He will be replaced by his first assistant, Jerry Pappert.

Ceremonies for two other new federal judges, Thomas M. Hardiman and Kim Gibson, were also held yesterday.

In Pittsburgh, Hardiman, a civil trial lawyer and partner at Reed Smith, was sworn in as a U.S. district judge sitting in Pittsburgh.

Hardiman, of Fox Chapel, practiced in state and federal courts and specialized in real estate, contracts, securities and constitutional rights. He has also done criminal defense work, mostly in the areas of white-collar crime and Medicare fraud.

A Georgetown University Law School grad, Hardiman served as one of four co-chairs for the transition team of Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddey.

He worked with U.S. District Judge Robert J. Cindrich at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Cindrich, who was appointed to the bench in 1994, administered the oath to Hardiman.

In Johnstown, Gibson was sworn in as a U.S. district judge sitting on the bench there. He replaces D. Brooks Smith, who joined the 3rd Circuit.

Gibson, of Somerset, has served as a Somerset County Common Pleas judge since 1998. Before that, was Somerset County solicitor for 10 years.

A 1970 graduate of West Point, Gibson earned his law degree at Dickinson School of Law and served 30 years in the military, including service during the Gulf War commanding an Army judge advocate general detachment. He retired as a colonel in the Army Reserve in 1996.

Torsten Ove can be reached at or 412-263-2620.

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