Newly appointed U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew Brann was introduced by elected officials Thursday at his new place of employment - the Herman T. Schneebeli Federal Building, 240 W. Third St.
Brann, a Canton native who has worked for the past 22 years as private practice attorney, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate last week as the newest judge to serve at the federal courthouse.
He was nominated to the position in May by President Barack Obama upon the bipartisan recommendation of U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey-R, Zionsville, and Bob Casey, D-Scranton.
Brann's confirmation as a sitting judge fills a vacancy at the courthouse since the death of U.S. Middle District Senior Judge Malcolm Muir in July 2011.
Those present at Thursday's event agreed that having a full-time federal judge working in the city will speed up caseloads, increase convenience for those involved in court proceedings and provide economic benefits.
"I've always believed it's important to have a federal judge in Williamsport," Toomey said.
With federal prisons at Allenwood and Lewisburg, having a sitting judge here will save travel time and expense compared to hearing those cases at other district courthouses in Harrisburg or Scranton.
"It makes sense for there to be a federal judge nearby to handle these cases," Toomey said.
And with increased Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling activity in the region, Toomey said it's "inevitable" that disputes related to that industry will have to be resolved in federal court.
Toomey said Brann's confirmation was "the last stop on a very long process." He thanked U.S. Rep. Thomas A. Marino, R-Cogan Station, and state Sen. E. Eugene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, for their encouragement to help place a new judge here.
Marino praised the confirmation of Brann and his bipartisan nomination.
"We are fortunate to have someone like Matthew's caliber in the Middle District. It's an awesome responsibility because it's an appointment for life," Marino said.
Lycoming County Commissioner Jeff Wheeland also welcomed Brann to the courthouse. He said the city and county will be the beneficiary of millions of dollars that are spent by attorneys and jurists at hotels, restaurants and the like.
Brann, a partner in a Canton legal firm, said he intends to be on the job in about a month. He said there are a number of cases that need attention.
"There are more cases in the Middle District than people may be aware," he said.
Brann said he knew both Muir and U.S. Middle District Senior Judge James F. McClure, who died in 2010.
"They were models, in my view, of how you perform as a judge," he said.
Brann will be sworn in privately, but a more ceremonial event will take place at a later date at the courthouse with the full Middle District bench, according to Robert J. DeSousa, Toomey's state director.