Justice David N. Wecht was elected to a ten year term on The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in November 2015, and began his service as a Supreme Court Justice in January 2016. Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court is the oldest appellate court in the nation, dating to the Commonwealth’s Judiciary Act of 1722.
Prior to joining the Supreme Court, Justice Wecht served as a Judge of The Superior Court of Pennsylvania from January 2012 to January 2016, and as a Judge on The Court of Common Pleas for Pennsylvania’s Fifth Judicial District from February 2003 to January 2012.
From January 2009 to January 2011, Justice Wecht served by appointment of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania as Administrative Judge of the Fifth Judicial District’s Family Division, which encompasses both domestic relations cases and cases of juvenile dependency and delinquency. As Administrative Judge, Justice Wecht designed and implemented several reforms and innovations, including the Unified Family Court, the local rule on parenting coordination, and improved conflict counsel appointments in juvenile cases.
Prior to taking the bench, Justice Wecht was twice elected as Allegheny County’s Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphans’ Court. In that capacity, he pioneered innovations that included creation of a free will consultation program for seniors and authorship of a state law that prevents accused murderers from controlling their victims’ estates.
Justice Wecht is a 1984 Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale, where he was a National Merit Scholar and earned Yale College Distinction in both history and political science. At The Yale Law School, Justice Wecht was selected as Notes Editor of The Yale Law Journal, and as an Editor of both The Yale Law & Policy Review and The Yale Journal of International Law. While a law student, he also volunteered as a certified legal intern in the Office of the State’s Attorney in New Haven, Connecticut, and provided pro bono legal assistance to inmates of the Green Haven Correctional Facility in Stormville, New York.
After graduating from The Yale Law School in 1987, Justice Wecht served as Law Clerk to U.S. Circuit Judge George MacKinnon on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Washington, D.C., and received the Award for Distinguished Service in that position. From January 1989 until taking the bench in February 2003, Justice Wecht continuously practiced law, first at Williams & Connolly in Washington, DC, then at Katarincic & Salmon in Pittsburgh, PA, and finally at The Wecht Law Firm in Pittsburgh, PA. He was licensed in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., and was admitted to practice in numerous state and federal courts, including The Supreme Court of the United States.
A frequent lecturer to bench, bar, and community groups throughout Pennsylvania and in several other states, Justice Wecht also has served for many years on the faculties of the Duquesne University School of Law and the University of Pittsburgh. He is a Visiting Professor at the Radzyner Law School of Reichman University, Herzliya, Israel, and has lectured at universities and institutes in Shanghai, Xian, and Rugao, China.
Justice Wecht’s extra-judicial writings have appeared in a number of publications, including The Yale Law Journal, The Pennsylvania Bar Quarterly, The Pennsylvania Lawyer, The Pennsylvania Family Lawyer, the Pittsburgh Legal Journal, Tablet, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle, Midstream, and others.
Justice Wecht also serves or has served as a Fellow or Member of several professional organizations, including The American Law Institute, the Allegheny County Bar Foundation, and the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges. He has volunteered his time to a number of governmental, civic, and community boards and groups, including the Parent Education & Advocacy Leadership Center, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee, the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the Criminal Justice Advisory Committee of the Community College of Allegheny County, the Juvenile Court Judges Commission, and others.
Justice Wecht was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He grew up in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill section, and attended Shady Side Academy, where he played football and lacrosse. Justice Wecht and his wife Valerie were married at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Congregation, on whose Board of Trustees he served. Justice Wecht and his wife continue to live in Allegheny County, where they raised four children, all of whom are now adults.
B.S., Yale University, History and Political Science, 1984