“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.”
Elected in November 2009 to serve as one of nine judges on the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, Judge Brobson was sworn in on January 6, 2010. The Commonwealth Court is one of two statewide intermediate appellate courts and 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.
“I look forward to discussing with my fellow judges ways we can make the court more open and accountable to the people,” says Judge Brobson, adding, “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.” He believes that increased transparency and communication can help Pennsylvania move past recent difficulties. “Pennsylvania is facing a crisis of confidence in the judiciary in general, because of the despicable actions of a handful of judges. 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.”
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.”
Note: Some photos used courtesy of the Honorable P. Kevin Brobson, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.