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McKeesport native nominated to federal bench

| Tuesday, March 15, 2016, 5:57 p.m.
President Obama on Tuesday nominated Rebecca Ross Haywood, 47, of the North Hills to fill a vacancy on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
President Obama on Tuesday nominated Rebecca Ross Haywood, 47, of the North Hills to fill a vacancy on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

President Obama has nominated a McKeesport native to serve on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

If confirmed by the Senate, Rebecca Ross Haywood, 47, would become the first black woman on the appellate court and fill the vacancy Judge Marjorie O. Rendell created in July when she took senior status. Rendell is the wife of former Gov. Ed Rendell.

Haywood is chief of the appellate division for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

“The president has made an exceptional nomination,” said U.S. Attorney David Hickton. “Rebecca Ross Haywood is a lawyer of unparalleled legal ability and judgment; she is also a wonderful person. She will make an outstanding judge.”

Haywood, a resident of the North Hills, couldn't be reached for comment.

“Throughout her career, Rebecca Ross Haywood has shown unwavering integrity and an outstanding commitment to public service,” Obama said in a statement. “I am proud to nominate her to serve on the United States Court of Appeals.”

The nomination of Haywood, who is black, is an important step for diversifying the courts, said Tim Stevens, of the Pittsburgh Black Political Empowerment Project.

“There's a dearth of people of color in the courts, either locally or nationally,” he said. “Her nomination is important not only as a person of color but as a person of integrity.”

Two former assistant U.S. attorneys who worked with Haywood and, as private attorneys, faced off against her in court, said she'll make a good judge.

“Aside from possessing the most important quality a judge can have — which is good judgment — Rebecca is brilliant and thoughtful,” said Tina Miller, a criminal defense lawyer who has known Haywood for more than 20 years.

“She'll make an excellent judge,” said Stephen Stalling, a criminal defense lawyer who worked with Haywood for four years. “She has first-rate appellate experience, an excellent legal mind and probably the perfect temperament to serve on the 3rd Circuit: She's intellectually curious, fair-minded and smart as a whip.”

Haywood graduated from Elizabeth Forward High School in 1986. She graduated from Princeton in 1990 with a bachelor of arts, cum laude, in economics and graduated from the University of Michigan Law School, magna cum laude, in 1994.

Following graduation, she clerked twice for U.S. District Judge Alan Bloch, worked a year at Jones Day, a private law firm, and several years as an assistant U.S. attorney. She was promoted to appellate chief in the U.S. Attorney's Office in 2010.

Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-325-4301 or

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