Haughey received his law degree from University of Cincinnati College of Law and is a former prosecutor who also had active practice that included civil cases.
When Niehaus enters the juvenile justice center daily, he is walking into the building that now bears his father’s name. David Niehaus died while in office in 2008.
“It is a dream (to be juvenile judge) that I always had even when my father was alive,” he said. “What I saw him do, and the impact that a juvenile judge and a juvenile court as a whole can make in the lives of kids and families, I knew that is something that I wanted to do.”
Niehaus served as a magistrate for Craft, who was a mentor, but says taking the bench in the same building where his father held a gavel is “surreal.”
“I think about my dad every day,” he said.
It was the last place he saw his father alive when he stopped by chambers to say hello on the day he died.
As a juvenile judge, Niehaus said all cases are important, not just the ones in which minors are charged with serious offenses.
“We have to remember everything we do is very serious to the people we are working with, whether it is the first time they have been here on a speeding ticket or something even more serious,” he said.
“My goal when we have contact in all cases, especially the lower-level ones, is to make sure we are setting up kids to be successful and families to be successful. I truly believe any of those contacts we have with them is just am opportunity for us to set them on the right path, to help them navigate their future.”
Haughey said he believes his experience as an area court judge who also was practicing law is valuable.
“Part-time judgeships that some people aren’t fond of have a positive. It’s where don’t lose you sense of humanity or humility. You have to check that ego at the door. Because one day you are Judge Haughey and the next you are just counsel addressing someone else as your honor,” he said.
Haughey said he wants to run his courtroom as efficiently as possible and embrace new technology that can help busy dockets move faster and smoother. But what is most important, he said, “is to have people leaving the courtroom with a sense that they were treated fairly and that justice was done. That is always the tantamount of every judge. That’s the mission.”
The judgeship was something he aspired to more than 12 years ago when he sought the Republican endorsement of area judge.
“I said then this is not my last stop,” Haughey said.