Stephanie L. Haines – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania

A prosecutor with a relatively apolitical background, Stephanie Haines looks poised for a comfortable confirmation to the federal bench in Pennsylvania.

Background

A Western Pennsylvania native, Haines was born in Johnstown in 1969.[1]  Haines attended Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. and received a B.A. degree in 1992, subsequently getting a law degree from Ohio Northern University.[2]

After graduating, Haines clerked for Judge Eugene Fike in Somerset, Pa. and then joined the U.S. Army, working in various legal roles, including as a Legal Assistance Attorney, a Prosecutor, and an Appellate Defense Attorney.[3]  Since 2005, Haines has been a Judge Advocate with the West Virginia National Guard.

In 2002, Haines became a federal prosecutor in West Virginia and, since 2007, has served as a federal prosecutor in Johnstown, Pennsylvania (the sole one since 2018).[4]

History of the Seat

The seat Haines has been nominated for opened on November 24, 2017, with the move to senior status of Judge David Cercone.  In March 2017, Haines applied for a federal judgeship with the application committee set up by Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA).[5]  While the panel recommended Haines, no further action was taken until July 31, 2018, when Toomey interviewed Haines and her name was passed to the White House.[6]

Haines was officially nominated on March 5, 2019.

Legal Experience

Haines has practiced law for over twenty years, working in one of two capacities: as a military lawyer; and as a federal prosecutor.  In the former position, Haines represented service members in assisting with estate planning, family law, and other matters, as well as prosecuting and defending soldiers in military courts.[7]  Since 2002, Haines has represented the U.S. government as a federal prosecutor, first in West Virginia and, since 2007, in Pennsylvania.  During this time, Haines tried approximately 40 cases.[8]

Among the most notable cases Haines handled, she prosecuted Rev. Joseph Maurizio, a Catholic priest, charged with sexually exploiting minors during trips to Honduras.[9]  Early in the case, Haines successfully convinced Judge Kim Gibson to reverse the grant of home detention for the defendant.[10]  Maurizio was eventually found guilty in a jury trial of five counts, including those alleging illicit sexual conduct.[11]

Overall Assessment

As a result of close cooperation between Casey and Toomey, Pennsylvania’s district court nominees have generally avoided the partisan rancor that other states have produced.  Haines looks likely to be no different, and, given her background as a prosecutor and her long service record, she is unlikely to draw much controversy.


[1] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 114th Cong., Stephanie L. Haines: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees 1.

[2] See id.

[3] Id. at 1-2.

[4] Id. at 2.

[5] See id. at 25.

[6] Id.

[7] See id. at 12-13.

[8] See id. at 13-14.

[9] See United States v. Maurizio, Crim. No. 3:14-23 J (W.D. Pa.).

[10] See Paul Pierce, Priest Charged in Sex Case Won’t Be Freed, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Nov. 15, 2014; see also Paul Pierce, Priest’s Home Detention Irks Prosecutor, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Nov. 7, 2014.

[11] Paul Pierce, Somerset County Priest Found Guilty, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Sept. 23, 2015.

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