First black woman district attorney for Philadelphia

By Frederick H. Lowe

Kelley Hodge has been sworn in as interim Philadelphia District Attorney, becoming the first black woman to hold the city’s top law-enforcement post.

Kelley Hodge, interim Philadelphia District Attorney

Hodge, Philadelphia’s 25th district attorney, replaced Rufus Seth Williams, the first African-American man elected district attorney. He resigned in June after pleading guilty to one count of bribery. Williams is now in jail awaiting his prison sentence, which will occur on October 24. He faces up to five years behind bars and a $250,000 fine.

Hodge was assistant DA for 20 years before resigning to join a law firm.  A panel of judges appointed her interim DA. The office serves the more than 1.5 million citizens of the City and County of Philadelphia, employing 600 lawyers, detectives and support staff.

She said she would lead by example to restore confidence in the office since Williams’ resignation.

Hodge, who was sworn in as DA on July 24 will serve until January when either Republican Beth Grossman or Democrat Larry Krasner takes over.

The number of black prosecutors is very small.

R. Seth Williams has traded in his suits for orange prison wear.

The Women Donors Network released a study titled “Justice for All,” which shows that 95% of elected prosecutors in the U.S. are white and 79% are white men.  In 2014, there were 2,437 elected prosecutors. Some 60% of states don’t have an elected black prosecutor, according to the study.
Only 1% of prosecutors are women of color. Only 4% of prosecutors, like Brooklyn, N.Y., District Attorney Ken Thompson (Thompson has since died) and former Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams, are men of color.

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