Trump names 2 nominees to federal court in Western Pennsylvania |

Trump names 2 nominees to federal court in Western Pennsylvania

Deb Erdley
Judge Robert J. Colville

Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Colville is getting a second shot at a seat on the federal bench for the Western District of Pennsylvania — which covers 25 counties, including Allegheny and Westmoreland.

President Donald Trump said he will nominate Colville, 54, to a seat on the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh. The announcement marked the second time a president has tagged Colville for the federal judiciary.

President Barack Obama nominated Colville, who has served on the Allegheny County bench since 2000, to a vacancy on the federal bench in 2015. That nomination expired in 2017 when the Republican-controlled Senate balked at acting on a long list of Obama judicial nominees, including Merrick Garland, Obama’s nominee to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

The ice jam over court appointments finally broke when Trump took office and the Senate began to approve his largely conservative nominees at what observers called an historic pace.

Colville, the son of the late Superior Court Judge and former Allegheny County District Attorney Bob Colville, is a Democrat. But his nomination may fair better under a Republican president whose judicial nominees largely have sailed through a Senate that has made seating the administration’s judges a priority.

Trump also nominated Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie L. Haines, 49, the sole federal prosecutor in the Johnstown office of the Western District of Pennsylvania, to fill a vacancy on the federal bench in the court there. Haines, a Republican, is a former member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps and has been a federal prosecutor in Pennsylvania and West Virginia for 17 years.

U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, and Bob Casey, D-Scranton, applauded the nominations, saying the two nominees would bring a wealth of experience to the bench and urging their fellow senators to act swiftly to approve them.

They are among 47 nominees whose appointments to the U.S. district courts are pending Senate approval. There are currently 128 vacancies on federal district courts across the country as well as 11 vacancies on U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal.

According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, the Senate has approved 86 federal judicial nominees in the first two years of the Trump administration, including two Supreme Court justices, 31 circuit court judges and 53 district court judges.

Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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