Dennis A. Whitaker, Esq.
PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, Harrisburg
Mr. Whitaker is the Chief Counsel for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the executive agency charged with stewardship over Pennsylvanias 120 state parks and 2.2 million acres of state forest land. He was appointed in May 2012. From 1990 until his appointment, Mr. Whitaker was with the Department of Environmental Protection, where he served as an assistant counsel, as a Supervisory Attorney, as Assistant Chief Counsel-Litigation Coordinator and as Executive Deputy Chief Counsel. An experienced trial and appellate lawyer, he was lead trial counsel for three Commonwealth agencies in their action to prevent the privatization of a portion of the Little Juniata River, a world class trout fishery. Mr. Whitaker also was counsel in the appeal in which the discovery rule first was applied to Clean Streams Law matters, and successfully argued before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that strict liability applies to landowners and occupiers under the Clean Streams Law without regard to knowledge or fault. He has litigated other issues as diverse as the First Amendment right to petition government and the effect of the Eleventh Amendment on the relationship between federal regulators and state mining programs. From 1988 to 1990, Mr. Whitaker clerked for the Honorable Joseph T. Doyle of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. Active in the bar, he currently is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s Board of Directors and serves on the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Environment and Energy Law Section Council, in addition to his membership in the Administrative Law Section and Appellate Advocacy and Government Lawyers Committees. Mr. Whitaker is a recent past Chair of the Administrative Law Section and served two terms as the Section’s delegate to PBA’s House of Delegates. He is a Master Emeritus in the James S. Bowman American Inn of Court and has been active in the planning of several CLE programs with PBI. Mr. Whitaker has served on the faculty of and authored CLE materials for PBI’s Environmental Law Forum, PBI’s Advocacy Before Administrative Law Judges program, and its Administrative Law Symposium, among others. He also has instructed the minor judiciary on access and entry issues. Mr. Whitaker has written on subjects such as state sovereign immunity and the Eleventh Amendment, and on the admissibility of hearsay evidence relied upon by experts. He received his J.D. from the Dickinson School of Law and his B.S. from the Pennsylvania State University.