Behind the Gavel: Butler County Judge Dan Haughey is a road-tripper, mock trial coach and avid bowler

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

This is the fourth part of the Journal-News’ “Behind the Gavel” series featuring Butler County judges. It takes a look at those who make difficult decisions daily and how they live outside of the courtroom.

The newest judge elected to the general division, Butler County Common Pleas bench Judge Dan Haughey is likely road trippin’, in a bowling alley or coaching aspiring lawyers when not “dispensing justice” — his words.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Haughey was elected to the general division in 2020, served as Butler County Area III Court judge from 2008 to 2020, was a Hamilton Municipal Court prosecutor and spent a number of years in private practice after graduating from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 2000.

The 48-year-old aspired to be an attorney early in life while growing up in Hamilton.

“It was in second grade,” Haughey said with clarity about that moment.

Haughey’s father worked in lumber sales and drove him to Heathwood Lane, where at the time, big houses were under construction. When he asked who lived there, his father answered “the doctors and the lawyers.”

“I wanted to live on Heathwood,” Haughey said with a laugh. “And I decided at that point, since I don’t really care for the sight of blood, medicine was probably out, so lawyer it was. I know that is not too altruistic, but in second grade you are not thinking about that.”

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Today, Haughey and his wife, Angela, a patent attorney and his high school sweetheart, live in Liberty Twp. with their three children Oscar, Ava and Evan.

Haughey shares a love of bowling with his children cultivated in his days at St. Xavier High School and at the local bowling alleys. Today, he has a home bowling alley that he describes as really more of a place to hang out.

“I am a social bowler, I am not really competitive,” Haughey said, but his two oldest were varsity bowlers at St. X. “So we are a bowling family. I have always enjoyed it. I wanted to have a place where my kids and their friends would be inclined to hang out. People love to come and just hang out.”

He describes himself as a “fair” bowler.

“Nobody has to be an athlete to participate in bowling ... that’s what I like about it,” Haughey said with a smile.

Haughey and the family enjoy traveling by road channeling the Griswold family, of movie fame.

“I like road trips. Flying can be miserable”, he said. Beach destinations are favored and a recent long road trip in the family SUV included lots of sites on the way to San Diego.

Haughey is passionate about law-related education, coaching mock trial teams at Miami University, his alma mater, and the University of Dayton. He hosted American Mock Trial Association tournaments in Butler County and now coaches mock trial at St. X. He is a board member American Mock Trial Association.

“I really enjoy it,” Haughey said, adding he does not point budding attorneys to any area of the law. He said he has been on every side.

“I want them to be able to evaluate for themselves.”

Haughey described the common pleas judgeship as more lonely than his other roles in the legal system because he isn’t a part of the everyday “fray” with lots of attorneys and clients.

“It is true there is a lot less stress (as common pleas judge) than private practice in some ways because you you aren’t out hustling,” Haughey said. “But on the other hand in private practice, I didn’t have to make the tough decisions. My client told me what their objectives were and I was an advocate for them.”

Haughey is honest about the reason his younger self pursued the law and admits to finding success, but the end of his biography on the court’s website sums up his demeanor:

“In case all of the above has given anyone the wrong impression that Judge Haughey has an over-inflated view of himself, rest assured that he subscribes to the opinion offered by Judge Edward J. Devitt in his Ten Commandments for the Judge: “It is distinctly unbecoming to later claim that you were chosen solely because of your outstanding ability as a lawyer and leader of the Bar, and that you were reluctantly persuaded to give up your lucrative practice and were practically dragged up to the Bench. That would be taking yourself too seriously.”

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