Judges in Philadelphia have voted to appoint Elliott Greenleaf lawyer Kelley Hodge to fill out the remainder of District Attorney Seth Williams’ term in office. The Thursday vote comes on the heels of Williams’ stunning plea deal with federal prosecutors on bribery charges.
Hodge, a onetime Philadelphia assistant district attorney, will become the first African American woman to lead the office in its 167-year history.
If Hodge’s name sounds familiar, that’s because she made headlines in 2012 as Governor Tom Corbett’s Safe Schools Advocate for the School District of Philadelphia, and later served on the Pennsylvania Joint State Commission on Violence Prevention.
Hodge earned her law degree from the University of Richmond, working as a defense lawyer and public defender in Virginia. She joined the Philadelphia DAO in 2004 as a prosecutor, working there for eight years. Later in her career, Hodge would teach law at Drexel University.
Her appointment to the Safe Schools Advocate role came at a delicate time, as several high-profile school violence incidents had rocked Philadelphia in prior years. Hodge initially described her tenure there as “victim-focused” but would later distinguish herself by supporting progressive disciplinary measures, eschewing automatic suspensions and “zero tolerance” policies in favor of conflict mediation and prevention.
An undergraduate alumna of the University of Virginia, Hodge also served a brief stint as her alma mater’s first Title IX diversity officer, not long after 2014 rape allegations rocked that campus. Until her appointment Thursday, Hodge worked in the white collar litigation unit at Elliott Greenleaf, which she joined last year.
The Montgomery County native currently serves on the boards of Villanova Law’s Institute on Commercial Sexual Exploitation, the Community College of Philadelphia’s Center for Law and Society, and the PA Innocence Project, which seeks to exonerate wrongfully convicted men and women.
As Hodge prepares for her short term leading the troubled office, Democrats Larry Krasner and Republican Beth Grossman continue to vie for the top slot in the November general election to succeed Williams.
Sources have told City&State PA that Krasner’s camp had heavily backed Hodge’s candidacy – although the vote was theoretically apolitical. Yesterday, rumors surfaced that a bloc of female, African-American judges had also united behind Hodge shortly before candidate interviews held on Wednesday afternoon.