D. Michael Fisher

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Mike Fisher
Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Assumed office
February 1, 2017
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
In office
December 15, 2003 – February 1, 2017
Appointed by George W. Bush
Preceded by Carol Los Mansmann
43rd Attorney General of Pennsylvania
In office
January 21, 1997 – December 15, 2003
Governor Tom Ridge
Mark Schweiker
Ed Rendell
Preceded by Tom Corbett
Succeeded by Jerry Pappert
Republican Whip of the Pennsylvania Senate
In office
January 2, 1991 – November 30, 1996
Preceded by David J. Brightbill
Succeeded by David J. Brightbill
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
from the 37th district
In office
January 6, 1981 – November 30, 1996
Preceded by Michael P. Schaefer
Succeeded by Timothy F. Murphy
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
from the 40th district
In office
January 7, 1975 – November 19, 1980
Preceded by Jay R. Wells
Succeeded by Frank Marmion
Personal details
Born Dennis Michael Fisher
(1944-11-07) November 7, 1944 (age 73)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political party Republican
Education Georgetown University (A.B.)
Georgetown University Law Center (J.D.)

Dennis Michael Fisher (born November 7, 1944), known commonly as Mike Fisher, is a Senior United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He also serves as the Distinguished Jurist in Residence at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.[1]

Early career and education[edit]

Fisher began his legal career in his hometown of Pittsburgh following his graduation from Georgetown University with an Artium Baccalaureus degree in 1966 and Georgetown University Law Center with a Juris Doctor in 1969.

As an Assistant District Attorney for Allegheny County, he handled nearly 1,000 cases, including 25 homicides. He continued to practice law during his career in the General Assembly and was a shareholder or partner in various firms, including Houston Harbaugh, where he practiced from 1984 to 1997. Fisher’s law practice included civil litigation, commercial law, estate planning and real estate.

Political career[edit]

Before his election as Attorney General, Fisher served for 22 years in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, serving 6 years in the State House and 16 years as a member of the State Senate. He was a member of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, the Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and the Majority Whip[2] of the Senate. During his legislative career, he was a leader in criminal and civil justice reform and an architect of many major environmental laws. He ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1986, serving as the running mate of Bill Scranton.

Attorney General[edit]

Prior to becoming a judge, he was elected Attorney General of Pennsylvania in 1996 and re-elected in 2000. Fisher personally argued major cases in state and federal appellate courts. In March 1998, he successfully argued before the United States Supreme Court a precedent-setting case ensuring that paroled criminals meet the conditions of their release.

In a 2009 documentary film about the politics behind attempts to move the Barnes Foundation art collection to the Philadelphia Museum of Art called “The Art of the Steal,” Fisher admitted using pressure on Lincoln University officials to get them to approve the move.[3]

2002 gubernatorial election[edit]

Fisher ran for governor of Pennsylvania in the 2002 election. Early in the campaign, the Republican State Committee gravitated to him as the nominee, much to the chagrin of State Treasurer Barbara Hafer, who had explored a run. After Fisher won the nomination unopposed, Hafer endorsed the Democrat, Ed Rendell and later switched her party affiliation to the Democratic Party. Fisher's campaign website was praised as being among the best during the 2002 election cycle.[4]

Fisher's candidacy was unable to gain traction, and he was down in the polls by double digits throughout the fall. In the end, Fisher could not catch Rendell and lost 53.4%–44.4%.

Federal judicial service[edit]

Fisher was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to serve with Marjorie Rendell, Governor Rendell's wife. Fisher was nominated by President George W. Bush on May 1, 2003, to a seat vacated by Carol Los Mansmann. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 9, 2003, and received commission on December 11, 2003. Fisher officially resigned as Attorney General and assumed his judicial office four days later.[5] He assumed senior status on February 1, 2017.

Personal life[edit]

Fisher and his wife, Carol, an education consultant, have two children. Michelle is an attorney, and Brett works in the Merchant Services Business.


  1. ^ Blake, Sharon (February 1, 2017). "Pitt Law Names Its Inaugural Distinguished Jurist in Residence" (Press release). University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved February 3, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Pecora's Retreat Leave Jubelirer In Top Position". The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. January 2, 1991. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  3. ^ Kennedy, Randy (March 29, 2011). "Arts Beat". The Culture at Large. Retrieved March 29, 2011. 
  4. ^ Drulis, Michael (2002). "Best & Worst Websites". PoliticsPA. The Publius Group. Archived from the original on 2002-10-17. 
  5. ^ "Pappert Takes Over For Fisher As Attorney General". WGAL Politics. WGAL. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jay R. Wells
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
for the 40th district

Succeeded by
Frank Marmion
Pennsylvania State Senate
Preceded by
Michael P. Schaefer
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
for the 37th district

Succeeded by
Timothy F. Murphy
Party political offices
Preceded by
William Scranton III
Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Harold Mowery
Preceded by
David J. Brightbill
Deputy Leader of the Republican Party in the Pennsylvania Senate
Succeeded by
David J. Brightbill
Preceded by
Ernie Preate
Republican nominee for Attorney General of Pennsylvania
1996, 2000
Succeeded by
Tom Corbett
Preceded by
Tom Ridge
Republican nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Lynn Swann
Legal offices
Preceded by
Tom Corbett
Attorney General of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Jerry Pappert
Preceded by
Carol Los Mansmann
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit