Nearly eight months after Matthew Brann and Malachy Mannion were nominated to the federal bench in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, they were confirmed by the Senate unanimously late on December 21.

The two seats that Brann and Mannion fill have been open since 2009 and 2010 — they were considered judicial emergencies. The Middle District bench had been operating at half capacity until Robert Mariani was confirmed in 2011. Brann, a Republican, and Mannion, a Democrat, bring it to full strength.

Brann will sit in Williamsport, Pa., where no judge is currently stationed. The area has seen an increased case load since drilling in the Marcellus Shale has picked up, U.S. District Chief Judge Yvette Kane of the Middle District of Pennsylvania said in May. Judges based in Harrisburg have been making the two-hour trip to the rural area in order to hear cases, she said. The drilling business has brought more contract disputes, land disputes and immigration cases because of workers in the area, she said.

Since 2001, Mannion has been a magistrate judge and, before that, prior to working in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he was a principal at Hourigan, Kluger, Spohrer & Quinn. He briefly returned to that firm between the time he left the U.S. Attorney’s Office and became a magistrate judge. He also worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District under James West and as an assistant district attorney in Nassau County, N.Y. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Scranton and has a law degree from Pace University School of Law.

Brann, a partner at Brann, Williams, Caldwell & Sheetz, takes an “exacting approach” to the law, said Harold Caldwell, a partner at the firm.

“He will always listen to all sides,” Caldwell said of Brann’s temperament for the bench.

In 2005, Brann challenged an incumbent judge on the Bradford County Court of Common Pleas, saying in a local newspaper at the time, “We need leadership that assumes responsibility.”

Saranac Hale Spencer can be contacted at 215-557-2449 or sspencer@alm.com. Follow her on Twitter @SSpencerTLI.