Widener Law Alum Sworn in as Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania Judge
Web Editor - Published: January 6, 2010

Judge Mary H. Leavitt administered the oath at Judge Kevin Brobson's swearing-in ceremony

“When asked to run for Commonwealth Court, the deciding factor was a strong attraction to public service, said Kevin Brobson ’95, a graduate of Widener Law’s Harrisburg campus, of his decision to seek election to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, adding, “the opportunity to serve the people of Pennsylvania by making sure government at all levels works for the people of Pennsylvania compelled me to run.”

On Wednesday, January 6th, Brobson, originally elected to Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court on November 3rd, was sworn in before a ceremonial session of the court. Nine judges who each serve 10-year terms make up the Commonwealth Court, one of Pennsylvania's two statewide intermediate appellate courts. The Commonwealth Court hears cases involving state and local government and regulatory agencies with a focus on subjects such as banking, land use, and labor practices. It also serves as a trial court for lawsuits filed by or against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Asked about his feelings before the swearing-in ceremony, Judge Brobson said, “My swearing-in ceremony will be a celebration of the hard work and dedication of the many people who deserve credit for the victory.  I look forward to sharing that time with them.”

Judge Brobson’s background as a litigator prepared him for his position on the Commonwealth Court, but his legal education prepared him to be a practicing lawyer. “The most challenging aspect of private practice is competition—competition for jobs, competition for clients, and competition to work on the highest-profile cases. While a strong work ethic will give you a leg up, if you do not have good, basic legal skills, you cannot compete at the highest levels,” he said of the challenges he initially faced, adding, “Widener provided a solid legal education in an environment that fostered interaction between students and professors.  This experience helped me to better compete in private practice.”

He cited his experiences working with the Harrisburg Public Interest Law Clinic at Widener Law as a particularly noteworthy experience, observing, “Working with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, we helped craft legislation to protect children caught in the middle of bitter custody disputes.”

While Judge Brobson’s legal education helped prepare him to be a practicing attorney, his experiences as an attorney have shaped his judicial philosophy. “For most of my career in private practice, I have represented clients who have raised questions about whether their state or local governments are complying with the law. This experience has instilled in me the strong belief that government must be just as accountable to the law as the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” he said, adding, “Each branch of government has an important and exclusive role to play in the system.  To ensure that government works for all Pennsylvanians, this separation of powers must be honored.”

Discussing his priorities as he begins his term of service, Judge Brobson observed, “Though the youngest of Pennsylvania’s three statewide courts, the Commonwealth Court is well-run and has a tradition of excellence that I hope will continue during my tenure on the Court.” After settling into his new role, he has some important goals that he would like to achieve.

“Pennsylvania is also facing a crisis of confidence in the judiciary in general, because of the despicable actions of a handful of judges,” noted Brobson. “As a newly-elected judge, I look forward to participating in efforts to move Pennsylvania past this crisis and to give Pennsylvanians a reason to have pride in their statewide courts generally, but specifically the Commonwealth Court.” A big proponent of governmental transparency, Judge Brobson affirmed, “Part of this effort will include encouraging more transparency in the court.  I look forward to discussing with my fellow judges ways we can make the court more open and accountable to the people. Three areas I plan on exploring are the court’s existing rule on unreported decisions, televising court sessions, and possible expansion of the court’s jurisdiction.”