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Anita Brody

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Anita Brody
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Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Title:   Senior Judge
Appointed by:   George H.W. Bush
Active:   10/02/1992 - 06/07/2009
Senior:   06/08/2009 - Present
Preceded by:   104 Stat. 5089
Succeeded by:   Felipe Restrepo
Past post:   Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, Judge
Past term:   1981 - 1992
Personal History
Born:   1935
Hometown:   New York City, NY
Undergraduate:   Wellesley College, B.A., 1955
Law School:   Columbia Law, J.D., 1958

Anita Blumstein Brody is a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She joined the court in 1992, after being nominated by President George H.W. Bush. Brody assumed senior status on June 8, 2009.

Early life and education

Born in New York City, New York, Brody graduated from Wellesley College with her bachelor's degree in 1955, and later from Columbia Law School with her Juris Doctor in 1958.[1]

Professional career

Brody served as Deputy Assistant State Attorney General for the State of New York from 1958 to 1959. Brody entered private practice in the State of Pennsylvania from 1958 to 1981. Brody also served as a part-time Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Law School from 1978 to 1979. Brody was a Common Pleas Judge in the Court of Common Pleas for the 38th Judicial District in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, from 1981 to 1992.[1]

Judicial career

Eastern District of Pennsylvania

On the recommendation of Arlen Specter, Brody was nominated to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by President George H.W. Bush on November 22, 1991, to a new seat created by 104 Stat. 5089, which was approved by Congress. Brody was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on September 29, 1992, on a Senate vote and received commission on October 2, 1992.[2]

Notable cases

Rejection of NFL concussion settlement as too small (2014)

     United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (In re: National Football Players' Concussion Injury Litigation, 2:12-md-02323-AB)

On January 14, 2014, Judge Brody rejected a $675 million proposed settlement between retired professional football players and the National Football League (NFL) over concussion-related issues, citing its potential lack of adequacy. In the underlying case, retired players filed suit in 2011, alleging the NFL's concealment of the risk of and failure to protect players from concussion-related injuries. Almost 5,000 former players filed similar suits, and they were consolidated as multidistrict litigation in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In August 2013, the parties submitted a proposed settlement, and several months later, in December 2013, Brody assigned a special master to assist her in reviewing it. In January 2014, the retired players structured the case as a class action suit listing more than 20,000 plaintiffs, requesting that Brody grant preliminary approval of the settlement. In her preliminary ruling, Brody noted that while the proposed settlement served as a "a commendable effort," she was ultimately concerned about its "fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy." Specifically, Brody was worried that not all retired players with a "qualifying injury" would be paid. Brody requested that the parties supply her with additional information to prove the veracity of the proposed settlement terms, which would enable them to seek approval at a later date. The principal terms of the proposed agreement are available here.[3][4]

On April 15, 2014, Judge Brody again rejected terms set in the NFL concussion case, issuing a preliminary ruling requesting additional information as to how the $765 million fund would last for more than six decades (65 years) given the number of current and former professional football players with brain injuries. Brody once again questioned whether the fund was large enough to cover up to 20,000 players' injuries for such a lengthy period of time. She will conduct hearings on the matter later in 2014.[5][6]

Death sentence overturned (2013)

     United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Dennis v. Wetzel, 11-1660)

On August 21, 2013, Judge Brody ordered the retrial or release of James Dennis. Dennis was sentenced to death in 1992 after he was convicted of killing Chedell Ray Williams for earrings worth $450. The case against Dennis was based on the testimony of three eyewitnesses and no physical evidence, for neither the weapon nor earrings were ever found. There was also no forensic evidence found to tie Dennis to the scene of the crime. Dennis claimed that he was traveling by bus during the time of the murder, which was substantiated by the driver of the bus. The jury convicted Dennis after a brief 90 minute deliberation. Judge Brody ordered the retrial after determining that the evidence against Dennis was "shaky" and criticized the defense lawyer as doing "the bare minimum." She went on to say that the police targeted Dennis based only on "neighborhood rumors," and that the investigation was fruitless because they "simply ceased to investigate the matter."[7] In her conclusion Judge Brody wrote:
I am concerned that James Dennis was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to die for a crime he did not commit. Regardless of Dennis’ possible innocence, there can be no question that the Commonwealth violated his right to due process of law by withholding exculpatory evidence that would have made a difference at his trial. As a result, after serving over 20 years in prison, Dennis is entitled to receive either a new trial or his freedom.


—Anita Brody[9]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
NA-New Seat
Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by:
Felipe Restrepo

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