First African-American Woman to Become Philadelphia DA

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After the recent bribery conviction facing former Philadelphia district attorney Seth Williams, Kelley Hodge has been named his successor and was sworn in this Monday. As the first African-American woman to take the position in the city’s history, this is a significant occasion for many reasons.

As detailed by NBC Philadelphia, the city was without a DA following Williams’ conviction, a board of city judges tasked with finding a replacement on short notice. Out of many candidates including former district attorney Lynne Abraham, Kelley Hodge was chosen on Thursday and will fill the role until the next city-wide election in January of next year.

Hodge was chosen specifically for her extensive career in law and dedication to justice. She began her career in Virginia in 1997, practicing as a public defender before joining the Philadelphia DA’s office in 2004. She would eventually enter the public sector before returning to serve as the new district attorney in the present.

Following her predecessor’s resignation as he awaits sentencing, Hodge will serve the second half of his term as DA. Despite her election by the board, Hodge herself felt her chances of becoming district attorney were “remote”, learning later by a phone call from President Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper that she had won the vote.

“It’s pretty remarkable and very humbling,” she said. “It’s not lost on me how significant the job is. It’s about moving the office forward, moving beyond what was a very tumultuous time when there were many distractions from what was going on day to day.”

Both the board of judges and her colleagues are supportive and excited to see what she can accomplish as DA. “We had many fine candidates who elected to put their names in the hat,” President Judge Woods-Skipper said. “And I think she’s an excellent choice.” The hat in question was not merely a metaphor; as dictated by tradition, elections of this kind are held by placing ballots into an old top hat.

During her time as district attorney, Hodge has elected to leave her position as board member in the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, which serves to help those wrongly convicted of crimes find innocence. Howard Scher, PIP’s president, hopes to see her again soon after finishing her duty as a public servant.