PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Philadelphia made history Monday with the swearing in of the city’s first African-American female district attorney.
Well-wishers crowded a city Hall courtroom to congratulate former assistant DA Kelley Brisbon Hodge on her return to the prosecutor's office from private practice. This time, Hodge is in charge, if only for five months or so. She spoke directly to and about the lawyers, detectives and support staff whom she'll now direct.
"If members of the district attorney's office are today as I remember my colleagues,” she said, “I know that you're hard-working, passionate, and tenacious advocates that are ready to work with me in restoring the public's confidence in our office.
Hodge was elected by a panel of Common Pleas court judges last week-- the election made necessary by the resignation of the disgraced former DA Seth Williams. His corruption trial stained the reputation of the DA's office.
Hodge made clear repairing that damage will begin immediately.
"For the time I have to lead this office,” said Hodge. “I will promote and encourage the honor, integrity and professionalism that is expected and that exists in each of you."
Shortly after taking the oath of office, Hodge told FOX 29'S Bruce Gordon the office is already looking at adversity through the rear view mirror:
"I know the DAs are committed to doing a good job and doing the work, and so I think that the challenges are behind us."
Among those in attendance at the swearing-in, was Larry Krasner, Democratic nominee and heavy favorite for the full, four-year term as DA, come January.
Krasner said he's optimistic about Hodge's efforts to repair the image of the DA's office, but “the over-arching issue here, is not Seth Williams taking bribes. The over-arching issue is a system in which we have jails but we don't have schools because we have chosen to incarcerate people at obscene levels."
First things first. In addition to the daily work of prosecuting criminal cases, Hodge must convince her workforce that the DA’s office is run by honest professionals doing the people’s business.
Her father, Fred, told FOX 29's Gordon that Kelley announced as a 5th grader, that she would, someday, become a lawyer. Tonight she is that and more, and the challenges will be significant.