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Brett Sweitzer

Brett Sweitzer L’98

Adjunct Professor in Law

Brett G. Sweitzer L’98 is Chief of Appeals in the Federal Community Defender Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He joined the office in 2003 and supervises appellate litigation in a wide variety of federal criminal cases.

Sweitzer has handled over 250 appeals in the Third Circuit. In addition, he has represented detainees at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. For that work, he and other lawyers in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania received the Clifford Scott Green Bill of Rights Award in 2008.

Sweitzer was co-counsel in Corley v. United States, in which the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the McNabb-Mallory exclusionary rule for violations of a criminal defendant’s right to prompt presentment before a magistrate upon arrest. In addition, since 2011 he has served as national co-chair of the Defender Supreme Court Resource and Assistance Panel, which provides guidance and support to federal defenders and Criminal Justice Act attorneys appearing in merits-stage litigation in the Supreme Court. In that capacity, he is involved in numerous cases each term.

Sweitzer is a member of the Advisory Committee for Third Circuit Model Criminal Jury Instructions and sits on the Executive Council of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Federal Practice Committee and on the Amcius Curiae Committee of the National Association of Federal Defenders. He regularly presents on topics of appellate practice and legal writing at programs organized by the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C., and the Pennsylvania Bar Institute in Philadelphia.

Before joining the Federal Community Defender Office, Sweitzer was an attorney with the law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLP in Philadelphia. He received his BA, magna cum laude, in 1993 from Colgate University, where he received the M. Holmes Hartshorne Award and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. In 1998, he received his JD, cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, where he received the Fred G. Leebron Memorial Prize and served as a Senior Editor for the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.