Throwback: A Native Son

by Kathleen M. Slencak

Cover March 1997; Cover underwritten by St. Clair Hospital; Photograph by David Aschkenas

Throwback with TODAY

A Native Son By Kathleen M. Slencak March 1997; pages 20 & 21

Pennsylvania State Attorney General

Mike Fisher is the new Attorney General for the state of Pennsylvania. He is the Chief legal counsel for the state. He is an attorney in the firm of Houston Harbaugh who also spent 22 year as a state legislator. But he's also a native son who has lived in Upper St. Clair since he was six yeas old.

Mike met his wife, Carol, when she was a teacher at Baker Elementary School, where she taught for eight years. When they married, Carol and Mike Fisher made their home in Upper St. Clair about one-half mile from where Mike grew up. Together, with their children Michelle, 21, and Brett, 18, they have been a part of the Upper St. Clair community since the early 1970s - from school activities to sports to church activities at St. Louise de Marillac.

Brett, Carol, Mike and Michelle Fisher

"The people of Upper ST. Clair are our friends and neighbors, " reflects Fisher. "We've raised our children together."

The Fisher family has been involved with cheerleading, Pantherettes, band parents, baseball and hockey. One activity that the entire family enjoys is golf.

While Fisher is beginning his tenure as Pennsylvania's Attorney General, his family is equally busy. Michelle is a junior at Miami-Ohio University and Brett is a senior at Upper St. Clair High School, where he is captain of the hockey team (see page 58). Carol Fisher is an educational consultant for Harcourt Brace and a supervisor of student teachers for Duquesne University.

Photo from page 58 of March 1997 UPPER ST. CLAIR TODAY

In 1950, the Fisher family moved to Upper St. Clair - a place that was considered a "rural part of Allegheny County." Mike's father, C. Francis Fisher, was an attorney, civic leader and solicitor for the Township of Upper St. Clair.

"My dad first got involved in civic activities when Pittsburgh Railways (a private street car company which ran from Pittsburgh to Washington, PA) decided to eliminate service from the Drake line to Washington," remembers Fisher. "My dad lead a protest. The street car line thought that no one would ever move out 'that far' and that Upper St. Clair to Washington route was not a good market for public transportation."

After graduation from South Hills Catholic, Fisher attended Georgetown University. He graduated with an B.A. Degree in Government in 1966 and a J.D. Degree in 1969. Then Fisher worked as an Assistant District Attorney for Allegheny County until 1974. From 1974 to 1980, he was elected to three terms in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and from 1980 to 1996 he was elected to four terms in the Pennsylvania Senate. Fisher concluded his Senate career in November 1996 after serving as Majority Whip and the third-ranking member in the Senate.

"The first bill that I ever had passed in the legislature was in 1975," recalls Fisher. "The bill was signed by then Governor Milton Shapp and it conveyed a parcel of land off Morton Road to be used as the Morton Road Volunteer Fire Department Substation. That's a source of pride for me."

While Fisher's legislative career boasts successes in the areas of education, environment (recycling), highway maintenance, youth services and senior citizens, he is most noted for his work on crime issues. As an Assistant District Attorney, Fisher prosecuted 25 homicide and drug-related cases. "I was elected to State government on criminal justice issues," recalls Fisher. In two decades as a State legislator, Fisher co-authored the state's death penalty law and authored the law requiring a mandatory five year prison term for crimes committed with a gun. "I was in charge of the Special Legislative Session on Crime in 1995," adds Fisher. "I also worked on reforming the state's pardons and parole system."

Upon reflection of his legislative career, Fisher says, "It has been an honor to serve the community and to have played a small role in the overall development of Upper St. Clair." His colleague in State government, State Representative Al Pettit, remarks, "Mike has been a friend who has worked diligently for the people of the South Hills for 25 years. He accomplished much for all the people of Pennsylvania. Locally, he could always be counted on when help was needed. We all will miss him."

In his new job as Attorney General, Fisher will be enforcing Pennsylvania's laws rather than writing the laws as he did as a legislator. Fisher will be in charge of 800 employees in the Office of Attorney General's four divisions: Criminal Law, Civil Law, Public Protection and Drug Law.

"One of my priorities is to restore confidence and credibility to the Attorney General's Office," States Fisher. "My predecessor, Thomas W. Corbett, Jr., has taken many steps to repair the reputation of the office that was damaged by scandal." Other priorities include domestic abuse issues, violators of environmental laws, consumer protection issues (particularly fraud and scams on the senior citizens of Pennsylvania), privacy issues and crime issues (including corruption and the growing presence of organized crime from Eastern European and Russian Nations).

Drug law enforcement issues may be Fisher's greatest challenge and personal crusade. "Drugs are not limited to the inner city," reminds Fisher. "Drugs are in the small towns and the rural communities." Fisher wants to lead by example and work at the school district level to implement drug prevention programs and to reduce the peer influence on young people that leads to drug use. "I want to arrest street level drug dealers and work with local law enforcement to arrest and convict drug-related criminals," stresses Fisher. "Stiff drug laws are in place in Pennsylvania - we're going to concentrate on enforcing them."

The residents of Upper St. Clair have benefited from the public service of Mike Fisher for the past two decades. Now, for the next four years, one of Upper St. Clair's greatest resources and native sons, Mike Fisher, will serve all of the residents of the State of Pennsylvania.

2019: The Honorable D. Michael Fisher is currently a Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He was nominated by President George W. Bush, confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate in December 2003 and assumed Senior Status in 2017.

15241 TODAY logo.png