Last updated: February 19. 2013 11:09PM - 510 Views

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Seven months after they were nominated by President Barack Obama, two men have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to seats on the federal bench by a unanimous consent, bringing the number of vacancies in the Middle District of Pennsylvania to zero.

Judge Malachy Edward Mannion and Matthew W. Brann were confirmed Friday afternoon to vacant seats in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, which serves a large swath of the northern and central part of the state including Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties. The judges in the district hear cases in federal courthouses in Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Harrisburg and Williamsport .

Mannion, a Democrat from Scott Township, Lackawanna County, has been a federal magistrate judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania since 2001. Brann, a Republican from Canton, Bradford County, has been a partner at the law firm of Brann, Williams, Caldwell & Sheetz in Troy since 1995. They were jointly recommended for nomination and confirmation by the state's two senators, Bob Casey, D-Scranton, and Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville.

The men were nominated by Obama in May and have been awaiting confirmation since they were reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 19. The long slog of getting the two men through the Senate has been something both senators have decried throughout the process.

In September, Toomey penned a letter to Senate leaders this fall highlighting the plight of the Middle District's judge shortage.

The two vacancies in the Middle District of Pennsylvania are of particular concern since the Williamsport courthouse is without a sitting judge and the district has been in a state of judicial emergency since 2009, Toomey wrote.

On Friday, Toomey and Casey praised the confirmations, which bring the judicial complement in the district to six, a full bench.

I have known Mal for years and he is an excellent lawyer whose integrity is beyond reproach, Casey said. Recommending and confirming strong judicial candidates is among the most significant responsibilities of a U.S. Senator, which is why I've worked in a bipartisan fashion with Senator Toomey to make sure excellent candidates are nominated and confirmed.

Matthew Brann has a wealth of legal experience gained from more than two decades in private practice, and I am so pleased Williamsport will finally have a federal judge, especially one of his caliber, Toomey added. I am confident these two judges will live up to these standards and will serve Pennsylvania well.

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