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Federal bench to run at capacity with Upper St. Clair man's approval

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Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday unanimously confirmed a Homestead native as the next federal judge for Western Pennsylvania.

Mark R. Hornak, 55, of Upper St. Clair comes to the federal bench from the law firm of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, where he's been a partner since 1989.

Jack Barbour, the firm's chairman and CEO, said he's losing one of his best advisers but the region is gaining a good judge.

"I honestly don't think there's a more qualified person who was so genuinely interested in getting the job as Mark Hornak," he said.

Hornak couldn't be reached for comment.

Barbour said he's known Hornak for about 25 years and said his temperament, intelligence and work ethic will serve him as well on the bench.

"He knows how to drive to the real issues and not get confused by all the flak and static out there," Barbour said.

Hornak has been the solicitor for the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority for more than 15 years and was involved in the development of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, PNC Park, Heinz Field and Consol Energy Center. He specializes in civil litigation with a focus on labor and employment law as well as media and defamation law.

"Mark Hornak brings with him excellent academic credentials and 30 years of litigation experience that should benefit both lawyers and litigants," said Fred Goldsmith, chair of the Allegheny County Bar Association's Federal Court Section.

When Hornak takes the oath of office, the Western District will have a full complement of judges for the first time since 2007, said Robert Barth, the clerk of the court.

Since April 1, 1985, the district has had a full complement of judges for 169 days, or about 5 12 months out of the 26 12-year period, Barth said.

On Monday, the Senate confirmed U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy Bissoon, 43, of Mt. Lebanon to fill the vacancy created in 2007 when Thomas Hardiman left the Western District to sit on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

District judges in March picked former federal prosecutor Cynthia Reed Eddy, 53, of Mt. Lebanon as Bissoon's successor.

Hornak fills the vacancy created in November 2010 when U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose took senior status. The next judge eligible for senior status is U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry in September 2013, so the district has the prospect of having a full bench for at least a couple of years, Barth said.

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