Magistrate judge gets nomination to federal bench in Western Pa. |

Magistrate judge gets nomination to federal bench in Western Pa.

A Mt. Lebanon woman who has been called “an American success story” was nominated Wednesday by President Obama to become a U.S. District Court judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Cathy Bissoon, 42, who has served as a U.S. Magistrate judge at the federal courthouse Downtown since August 2008, said she was “thrilled” to learn of her nomination yesterday from Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton.

“I am humbled and honored by the president’s nomination,” said Bissoon, who grew up in Queens, N.Y., and received her law degree in 1993 from Harvard University.

She said “this is all too new” to say much more.

Bissoon was nominated to fill a seat that has been vacant since March 2007 when Thomas Hardiman was appointed to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. The Pittsburgh court lost another full-time judge this month when Donetta Ambrose took on senior status. A senior judge hears cases, but not full-time.

Casey, who along with Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Philadelphia, recommended Bissoon to the president, said he was “very pleased” by her nomination.

“Judge Bissoon has had a distinguished legal career as a U.S. Magistrate judge. She also is an active member of the Pittsburgh community. Judge Bissoon is already an American success story, and I was proud to recommend her to the White House,” he said. “I hope that the Senate will quickly take up her nomination.”

After graduation, Bissoon, the daughter of an auto-glass installer and a homemaker, joined the Pittsburgh office of the Reed Smith law firm before taking a year-long sabbatical to serve as a clerk for U.S. District Judge Gary L. Lancaster. She returned to Reed Smith in 1995 and ultimately became a partner and head of the firm’s Employment Group.

She also served as Reed Smith’s director of diversity for six years, earning various accolades for her efforts, including the Honorable Thurgood Marshall award from Minorities in Business Magazine in 2006.

Bissoon joined the Pittsburgh law firm of Cohen & Grigsby in 2007, where she served as a director and head of the Labor & Employment Group.

She received a number of honors during her years in private practice, including being named a “Pennsylvania Super Lawyer” by Philadelphia Magazine and being recognized as one of the top 50 lawyers in Pennsylvania under the age of 40 by Pennsylvania Law Weekly.

Bissoon was honored by Pittsburgh Professional Women as a 2010 Women of Integrity and serves on the board of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. She is a Girl Scout troop leader and formerly served on the boards of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and the Girl Scouts.

Bissoon has served on both the Lawyers Advisory Committee for the Third Judicial Circuit as well as the Local Rules Advisory Committee for the federal court.

Her name will go before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will decide whether the full Senate should consider her nomination.

Bissoon and her husband, Gregory Bradley, have two children, Maya, 12, and Aidan, 9.

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