The Honorable Judge D. Brooks Smith will serve as commencement speaker at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University’s 2024 Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 18, 2024. He is a Senior Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He has served there since 2002 and previously served as Chief Judge of that court from October 2016 to December 2021. 

Judge Smith currently chairs the Third Circuit’s “Courts, Community and Rule of Law” Committee, whose work is aimed at improving public understanding of the role of the judicial process in American society. 

“Judge Smith has been dedicated to advancing the rule of law and our system of justice for his entire career. He continues to do that work at the highest level while educating others about the judicial system’s importance and relevance,” said Duquesne President Ken Gormley.

Prior to being named to the Third Circuit, Judge Smith served as the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. He was appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States to two prestigious committees of the Judicial Conference of the United States (JCUS): the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure and the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability. 

Previously, Judge Smith served for ten years on the JCUS Space and Facilities Committee. In the 1990s, Judge Smith was a member of the JCUS Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules and was a member of the Executive Committee of the JCUS from 2019 to 2021.

His extensive legal career also encompasses significant work in the domain of international law. Judge Smith has participated in various rule of law programs in Eastern European countries, as well as Russia and China.

“Judge Smith exemplifies the best attributes of the legal profession in a modern society. His impact is felt nationally as well as internationally. His legal reach is far, having served his hometown, on the federal level, and abroad. He has spent his entire career honorably pursuing justice and sharing his knowledge with the next generation of lawyers and judges,” said April Barton, dean of the Duquesne Kline School of Law.

Early in his career, Judge Smith served as a judge on the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County, Pennsylvania. Before that, Judge Smith served as District Attorney of Blair County, Pennsylvania, and was the managing partner in the law firm of Jubelirer, Carothers, Krier, Halpern and Smith. He was part of a two-prosecutor team who investigated organized crime in Central Pennsylvania in the early 1980s. He received a commendation from the Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police for that work, for which he was called the investigation’s “legal shepherd.”

Judge Smith taught as an adjunct professor at Penn State Law, teaching courses on class actions and complex litigation from 2008 to 2022. He served as a trustee for more than a decade at Saint Francis University in Loretto, and then for a five-year period at Mount Aloysius College in Cresson. In 2023, Smith became a Judicial Fellow in Residence at Waynesburg University. 

Those who enter the Weis Federal Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh pass through the “Judge D. Brooks Smith Lobby.” He has been honored for his legal and judicial work on numerous occasions. Judge Smith was a recipient of the Judge Justin Johnson Award in 2023. He was named an Alumni Fellow by the Penn State Alumni Association and was given the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor bestowed by Penn State on an alumnus, in 2017. Penn State Law presented its first ever Leadership Award in 2016 to Judge Smith. And in 1996, the Blair and Bedford County Central Labor Council named him its “Person of the Year.”

Judge Smith earned his J.D. from Dickinson School of Law and his B.A. from Franklin & Marshall College. 

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February 23, 2024