In November 2005, Judge Deborah Anne Kunselman became the first woman ever elected to the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County. Judge Kunselman is a 1992 honors’ graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School, and a 1989 high-honors’ graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, where she was a student of the Schreyer Honors College and elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
Before taking the bench, Judge Kunselman practiced for thirteen years in many areas of civil litigation, including personal injury, municipal, family and employment law. Her varied practice consisted of representing individuals, businesses and government entities. Notably, she successfully represented several teachers in an Equal Pay Act and Age Discrimination claim, recovering a substantial jury verdict on their behalf.
In addition to her private practice, she served for eight years (1998-2005) as the Solicitor for Beaver County, under three separate Democratic Boards of Commissioners. She was the first woman in the county selected to serve in the capacity of Chief County Solicitor. As Solicitor, she was responsible for a variety of legal matters and worked closely with labor on issues involving the construction of the Beaver County Jail, the Beaver County Courthouse addition, and the County parking garage. She successfully defended, in court, the County’s Labor Stabilization Agreement in conjunction with these projects.
Elected twice to the bench, Judge Kunselman has presided over family, juvenile and civil cases, including several multi-million-dollar jury trials. She has decided many employment cases, including cases where she upheld appeals from labor arbitration awards. In one important case, she awarded back-pay and reinstated an employee in the health-care industry, who was terminated for refusing mandatory overtime. One of her significant contributions as a trial court judge has been to implement Act 53 in Beaver County; this process allows parents of a minor, suffering from addiction, to petition the courts to force their child to attend inpatient drug and alcohol treatment.
Judge Kunselman is recognized as a frequent speaker on legal issues. She has taught numerous Continuing Legal Education classes to lawyers and, twice, has been asked to teach the Family Law course at Pennsylvania New Judge School. Since 2011, she has served on the statewide Judicial Education Committee. She often speaks at local schools on the Constitution and legal careers, and she continues to teach religious education classes at her church. As an active member of the Beaver County Bar Association, Judge Kunselman participates annually in the Beaver County Mock Trial Competition and many other volunteer programs.
In 2017, the Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Committee rated her as “Highly Recommended” for a seat on the Pennsylvania Superior Court. She is endorsed by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. A lifelong resident of Western Pennsylvania, Judge Kunselman and her husband Christopher are the parents of three children, Andrew (20), Robbie (17) and Katie (15).
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