D. Brooks Smith

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
Brooks Smith
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Assumed office
August 2, 2002
Appointed by George W. Bush
Preceded by Timothy Lewis
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
In office
October 1, 2001 – August 2, 2002
Preceded by Donald Ziegler
Succeeded by Donetta Ambrose
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
In office
October 17, 1988 – August 2, 2002
Appointed by Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Carol Mansmann
Succeeded by Kim Gibson
Personal details
Born (1951-12-04) December 4, 1951 (age 66)
Altoona, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Alma mater Franklin and Marshall College
Dickinson School of Law

David Brookman Smith (born December 4, 1951 in Altoona, Pennsylvania), known professionally as D. Brooks Smith, is a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He was previously Chief Judge on the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Legal career

After graduating from Dickinson School of Law, Smith began his legal career in Altoona, Pennsylvania, becoming managing partner of Jubelirer, Carothers, Krier, Halpern and Smith. From 1977-1979, Smith served as an Assistant District Attorney for Blair County, Pennsylvania. Smith then served as a Special Prosecutor, conducting a grand jury investigation from 1981-1983 into organized criminal activity in Central Pennsylvania. From 1983-1984, Smith served as the Blair County District Attorney. In December 1984, Governor Dick Thornburgh appointed Smith to a judgeship on the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County. The next year, Smith received the nominations of both the Republican and Democratic Parties for a ten-year term as judge on the same court. In 1987, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Robert Nix appointed Smith Administrative Judge of the Blair County Courts, charging him with responsibility to address that court's chronic backlog.

Federal court service

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan, with the advice of Senators Arlen Specter and H. John Heinz III, appointed Smith to the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. He served as Chief Judge from 2001 until his elevation to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Smith was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit by President George W. Bush on September 10, 2001. Having been unanimously rated "well qualified" by the Standing Committee of the American Bar Association, his nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 31, 2002.

Judge Smith's confirmation process is detailed in Jeffrey Lord's The Borking Rebellion.[1]

Professional affiliations and activities

Chief Justice John Roberts appointed Judge Smith to chair the Committee on Space and Facilities of the Judicial Conference of the United States for a three-year term beginning October 2013. In that capacity, he has led a national space reduction initiative which ranks as the federal judiciary's major cost containment measure. Judge Smith has served as a member of the Committee on Space and Facilities since 2006. Smith also served on the Criminal Rules Advisory Committee of the United States Judicial Conference from 1993 to 1999. In addition, Judge Smith is a member of the American Law Institute, the Federal Judges Association, the American Judicature Society, the Allegheny County Bar Association and the Pennsylvania Association.

Noteworthy rulings

Petruska v. Gannon Univ, 462 F.3d 294, 307 (3d Cir. 2006), cited with approval in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 132 S. Ct. 694, 705 n.2, 709 n.4 (2012): Smith adopted the ministerial exception, which "operates to bar any claim, which would have limited the religious institution's right to select who will perform particular spiritual functions."

Washington v. Klem, 497 F.3d 272 (3d Cir. 2007): Smith held that under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) a "substantial burden" to a prisoner's religious practice exists when one is forced to choose between following his religious principles or giving up benefits otherwise available to other inmates versus abandoning one of the religious principles in order to receive a benefit.

United States v. Stevens, 533 F.3d 218 (3d Cir. 2008), en banc: affirmed 130 S. Ct. 1577 (2010): Smith held that 18 U.S.C. § 48, which makes it illegal to create or sell pictures of animal cruelty, is unconstitutional because it infringes on First Amendment right to free speech.

Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, Inc., 561 F.3d 233 (3d Cir. 2009), affirmed 131 S. Ct. 1068 (2011): Smith held that plaintiff's negligent design defect claim was preempted by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act.

United States v. Tomko, 562 F.3d 558, 568 (3d Cir. 2009) (en banc): Smith used the abuse of discretion standard and held that "if the district court's sentence is procedurally sound, we will affirm it unless no reasonable sentencing court would have imposed the same sentence on that particular defendant for the reasons the district court provided."

Greene v. Palakovich, 606 F.3d 85 (3d Cir. 2011): Smith held that the phrase "clearly established Federal law" in 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) refers to Supreme Court decisions which existed at the time of the relevant state-court decision.

J.S. ex rel. Snyder v. Blue Mountain Sch. Dist., 659 F.3d 915 (3d Cir. 2011) (en banc) (concurring), cert. denied, 132 S. Ct. 1097 (2012): Smith would hold that Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969), does not apply to J.S.'s speech, whicy ccurred off of his high school campus.

NLRB v. New Vista Nursing and Rehabilitation, 719 F.3d 203 (3d Cir. 2013), abrogated by Noel Canning v. NLRB, 134 S. Ct. 2550 (2014), rehearing granted (Aug. 11, 2014): Smith held that the phrase “Recess of the Senate” in the Recess Appointments Clause “refers to only intersession breaks” and that one NLRB member was invalidly appointed during an intrasession break.

B.H. ex rel. Hawk v. Easton Area Sch. Dist., 725 F.3d 293 (3d Cir. 2013) (en banc): Smith, writing for the en banc majority, held that school district’s ban on wearing a bracelet that could plausibly be commenting upon political or social issues violated the First Amendment rights of the students.

King v. Governor of the State of New Jersey, 767 F.3d 216 (3d Cir. 2014): Smith held that New Jersey’s prohibition on counselors engaging in sexual orientation change efforts therapy did not violate the First Amendment, the Free Exercise Clause, and that the statute was not void for vagueness or impermissibly overbroad.

In re Nat'l Football League Players Concussion Injury Litig., 775 F.3d 570 (3d Cir. 2014): Smith held, as a matter of first impression, that only orders granting or denying class-action certification pursuant to Rule 23(c)(1) are subject to appellate jurisdiction under Rule 23(f).

International Service

Judge Smith has participated in multiple programs to enhance the Rule of Law in judicial systems. He has taught in international programs since 2000 in Bulgaria, Russia, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Albania, Latvia, Ukraine, Brazil, the Republic of the Philippines, Azerbaijan, Moldova, and Serbia.


Since 2008, Judge Smith has served as an Adjunct Professor at Penn State University, Dickinson Schools of Law, where he teaches Class Actions and Complex Litigation. In addition, he has been a speaker or a faculty member in academic programs offered by foreign law schools. He also has served as a trustee in the past for more than a decade at Saint Francis University and then for a five-year period at Mount Aloysius College.


Smith was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Mount Aloysius College in 2012. He has been named an Alumni Fellow by the Penn State Alumni Association and was awarded the Career Achievement Award by the Dickinson School of Law. He was named the Person of the Year by the Blair and Bedford County Central Labor Council in 1997 and after assisting in an investigation into organized crime in the early 1980s, received a Commendation from the Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police.


External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Carol Mansmann
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Kim Gibson
Preceded by
Donald Ziegler
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Donetta Ambrose
Preceded by
Timothy Lewis
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit