Mark A. Kearney
Judge Kearney.jpg
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Assumed office
December 4, 2014
Appointed byBarack Obama
Preceded byJ. Curtis Joyner
Personal details
Born (1962-08-05) August 5, 1962 (age 60)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Political partyDemocratic Party
EducationVillanova University (B.A.)
Villanova University School of Law (J.D.)

Mark A. Kearney (born August 5, 1962) is a United States district judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.


Kearney received a Bachelor of Arts degree, com3 laude, in 1984 from Villanova University. He received a Juris Doctor in 1987 from Villanova University School of Law. From 1987 to 1988, he served as a law clerk to Vice Chancellor Maurice A. Hartnett III of the Delaware Court of Chancery. He served as an associate at the law firm of Elliott, Mannino & Flaherty, P.C., from 1988 to 1990. From 1990 to 2014, he served at the law firm of Elliott, Greenleaf & Siedzikowski, P.C., in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, serving as a shareholder from 1995 to 2014. He handled complex commercial litigation before both Federal and State courts.[1][2] He served as the 2009 President of the Montgomery Bar Association (Pennsylvania) as it celebrated 125 years of service and as the 2014-15 President of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute (the largest CLE provider on Pennsylvania law) as it recognized 50 years of providing continuing legal education.[3] He was repeatedly recognized as Top 50 litigation star in Pennsylvania by Benchmark Litigation and received the honor of "Trial Lawyer of the Year" while in practice. [4] He is a member of the Villanova Law School's Board of Consultors.

Federal judicial service

On June 16, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Kearney to serve as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, to the seat vacated by Judge J. Curtis Joyner, who took senior status on May 1, 2013.[5] On July 24, 2014 a hearing before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary was held on his nomination.[6] On September 18, 2014 his nomination was reported out of committee by voice vote.[7] On December 1, 2014 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed for cloture on his nomination. On Wednesday December 3, 2014 cloture was invoked by a vote of 60–36.[8] He was later confirmed by voice vote that same day. He received his judicial commission on December 4, 2014.[2]

Notable cases

On February 19, 2016, Judge Kearney issued a ruling in which he held that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution does not protect the right of citizens to film police activity in a public area.[9] One commentator opined this ruling is contrary to a consistent line of cases at the Federal and State level.[10] Kearney explained the governing law in his Third Circuit did not allow him - as a trial judge - to recognize this new constitutional claim in the exceptionally narrow facts presented in the case.[11] In July 2017, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Judge Thomas L. Ambro, joined by Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo and partially by Judge Richard Lowell Nygaard, reversed Kearney's judgment but granted qualified immunity to the police officers involved.[12]

Kearney also granted injunctions prohibiting state actors from treating female low risk inmates significantly different than male low risk inmates under the Equal Protection Clause [13] and to stop Pennsylvania from interfering with the ongoing construction of the Scudder Falls Bridge in Bucks County under the Compact Clause.[14]

In 2016, the court of appeals designated Kearney to hear over 70 cases in the Western District of Pennsylvania and in 2017, over 50 cases in the District of Delaware.[15] Kearney has held businesses accountable for not being licensed to collect debt from a borrower under the Pennsylvania Consumer Credit Code[16] and reviewed false advertisement claims against the Morgan and Morgan law firm's legal marketing strategy allegedly confusing Pennsylvanians as to who would be litigating on their behalf.[17] He received national press complimenting his "model" handling of the antitrust case brought by Rockfon against Armstrong World Industries in the District of Delaware.[18]

He held the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Gallagher v. Geico decision is retroactive, allowing relief to insureds denied stacking benefits in their insurance policy.[19] He also found a Fifth Amendment right not to be forced to reveal confidential telephone passcodes for investigatory purposes.[20]

In the wake of the #MeToo era, Kearney denied a University's motion to dismiss a male professor's erroneous outcome claims based on anti-male bias.[21] In a physical and emotional assault lawsuit brought by a porn star, Kearney denied reality star Josh Duggar's motion to compel Danica Dillion's disclosures.[22]

In criminal cases, Judge Kearney dismissed an indictment against two men because the prosecutors and agents waited too long to bring them to trial even though they knew where to find them for years before unsealing the indictment.[23]

In April and July 2020, Kearney found a hotel franchisor could be liable for sex trafficking in its hotels and could turn and sue downstream franchisees and abusers accused of sex trafficking in company hotels in the same case.  In one of the first cases in the country, his ruling addressed respective potential liabilities of hotels, local hotel franchise owners, and traffickers under the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008.[24]

Under the False Claims Act, Kearney held an electricians union could recover over $1,000,000 for a contractor's false billing of electricians’ work efforts on a rail project funded by the United States[25] and later awarded approximately $1.4 million in attorney fees to the union (reducing the request) after success for over a decade of litigation.[26]

Kearney granted an employer's motion to dismiss a claim by a former employee who also served as a U.S. Naval reservist seeking paid leave for when he left work for short voluntary military service after exploring Congress's use of  “defined benefits and seniority” guaranteed under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.[27]


  1. ^ "President Obama Announces Intent to Nominate Five to Serve on the United States District Courts". 13 June 2014 – via National Archives.
  2. ^ a b "Kearney, Mark A. – Federal Judicial Center".
  3. ^ "Whitpain-based lawyer Mark Kearney confirmed as federal judge". 8 December 2014.
  4. ^ "Mark A. Kearney honored as Trial Lawyer of the Year". 11 November 2014.
  5. ^ "Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate". 16 June 2014 – via National Archives.
  6. ^ "United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary".
  7. ^ "Results of Executive Business Meeting – September 18, 2014 United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary" (PDF).
  8. ^ "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 113th Congress – 2nd Session". Vote Summary: Vote Number 304. United States Senate. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  9. ^ "Fields v. Philadelphia". 2016.
  10. ^ Turley, Jonathan. "Federal Court: First Amendment Does Not Generally Protect Public Filming Of Police In Public". Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  11. ^ "Fields v. Philadelphia" (PDF). Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  12. ^ Note, Recent Case: Third Circuit Holds Bystanders Have First Amendment Right to Record Police but Grants Qualified Immunity to Officers Involved, 131 Harv. L. Rev. 2049 (2018).
  13. ^ "Second female inmate at Berks County Prison wins gender bias suit". 22 May 2019.
  14. ^ "Pa. Can't Stop Bridge Agency From Using Elevators". 5 August 2019.
  15. ^ "Delaware court to solve judicial shortage with visiting judges". 30 May 2017.
  16. ^ "PA Court Case Emphasizes the Necessity of Licensing for Debt Buyers". 17 June 2019.
  17. ^ "Is this the case that will upend legal marketing?". 13 April 2018.
  18. ^ "Should a Judge's Personal Judicial Experience Affect Antitrust Pleadings?". 2 March 2018.
  19. ^ "'Seismic' Insurance Stacking Decision Applies Retroactively, Federal Judge Rules". 24 April 2019.
  20. ^ "Federal Judge Says Law Enforcement Can't Make You Hand Over Your Smartphone Passcode". 25 September 2015.
  21. ^ "Fired University of the Arts professor can proceed with lawsuit alleging civil rights violation". 2 April 2019.
  22. ^ "Judge Shuts Down Josh Duggar in Porn Star Battery Lawsuit - Again!". 11 January 2016.
  23. ^ "United States v. Akindele". 2019.
  24. ^ July 07, Max Mitchell |; PM, 2020 at 03:10. "US Judge Rules Marriott Can Bring 3rd Parties Into Sex Trafficking Case". The Legal Intelligencer.
  25. ^ "Union Gets $1 Million Win in False Claims Suit Against Fairfield". 6 February 2020.
  26. ^ April 13, P. J. D'Annunzio |; PM, 2020 at 06:36 (13 April 2020). "Local 98 Wins $1.4M in Lawyer Fees for Suit Over Non-Union SEPTA Projects". The Legal Intelligencer.
  27. ^ "FedEx Worker Loses Military Leave Pay Suit - Law360". 21 July 2020.
Legal offices Preceded byJ. Curtis Joyner Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania 2014–present Incumbent