Christy Wiegand – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania

Nineteen years ago, Christy Wiegand, then a young attorney at Arnold & Porter, was attacked while jogging in Rock Creek Park.  Wiegand fought back against her attacker, escaped, and later identified him to the police.  She went on to a distinguished career as a federal prosecutor, and now is primed for a seat on the federal bench.

Background

Christy Wiegand attended Princeton University, where she was a varsity rower, and went onto Cornell Law School, receiving her J.D. in 2000.[1]  After law school, Wiegand moved to Washington D.C. to join Arnold & Porter in their antitrust practice.  

However, in her first year in D.C., while jogging with her then-fiance in Rock Creek Park, Wiegand was attacked by a knife-wielding man.[2]  She managed to fight back and escaped to contact the police, who arrested her attacker, 19-year-old Ingmar Guandique.[3]  Guandique was later implicated in the murder of Chandra Levy, a Congressional intern whose disappearance had drawn suspicions on her boss, Congressman Gary Condit.[4]  Wiegand would also testify against Guandique who was ultimately convicted.[5]

In 2003, Wiegand left Arnold & Porter to clerk for Judge D. Brooks Smith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  Since her clerkship, Wiegand has served as a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

History of the Seat

The seat Wiegand has been nominated for opened on July 22, 2019, when Judge Peter Phipps, himself a Trump appointee, was elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  Wiegand was nominated on February 12, 2020.

Legal Experience

Wiegand has practiced law as an Associate at Arnold & Porter and as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania.  In the former position, Wiegand focused on antitrust law.[6] In the latter position, Wiegand has handled both civil and criminal matters, including serving as the Deputy Civil Chief.[7] 

Among the most notable cases Wiegand handled, she was part of a legal team suing Education Management Corp. (EDMC), a for-profit education conglomerate that was charged with violating federal laws.[8]  Wiegand also led prosecutions against the Darccide/Smash 44 Gang for narcotics, firearms, and organized crime violations.[9]

Political Activity

Wiegand has only one political contribution of record, a 2016 contribution of $1000 to Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA).[10] 

Overall Assessment

Having powered through far more significant obstacles and barriers, Wiegand should be able to navigate the Senate confirmation process relatively comfortably.  Given her relatively uncontroversial record and her support from both Toomey and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), Wiegand can expect a bipartisan confirmation.


[1] See Sari Horwitz, Scott Higham, and Sylvia Moreno, Chapter Six: The Predator in the Park, Wash. Post, July 17, 2008.

[2] See id.

[3] Id.

[4] Matthew Barakat, Chandra Levy’s Father Testifies About Efforts to Find Daughter, Other Testimony, San Jose Mercury News, Oct. 26, 2010.

[5] See Matthew Barakat, Woman Testifies About Attack at Chandra Levy Trial, San Jose Mercury News, Oct. 26, 2010.  See also Michael Doyle, Jury Finds Guandique Guilty of Killing Chandra Levy, Canwest News Service, Nov. 22, 2010.

[6] See Press Release, Office of Sen. Patrick Toomey, Toomey, Casey Applaud Nomination of Christy Wiegand to U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania, Feb. 5, 2020 (available at https://www.toomey.senate.gov/?p=op_ed&id=2567).  

[7] See id.

[8] See Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, For-Profit College Company to Pay $95.5 Million to Settle Claims of Illegal Recruiting, Consumer Fraud, and Other Violations, Nov. 16, 2015.

[9] See Press Release, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Pennsylvania, First of 37 Defendants Charged in Darccide/Smash 44 Gang Investigation Pleads Guilty to Drug Charge, Dec. 6, 2019.

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