Julia Leighton

Former General Counsel, Public Defender Service for District of Columbia

Julia Leighton is the former general counsel for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS).  As general counsel, Ms. Leighton advised and represented the PDS’s Board of Trustees, the PDS management team, and PDS lawyers on a wide variety of legal matters. In addition to her duties as general counsel, Ms. Leighton was a member of PDS’s Forensic Practice Group and was a 2001 founding member.  In 2014 Ms. Leighton was appointed by the U.S. Attorney General to the National Commission on Forensic Science and was a voting member until the Commission was sunset.  Ms. Leighton was also a member of three subcommittees of the Commission, Accreditation and Proficiency Testing, Interim Solutions, and Reporting and Testimony.  Currently she is a member of the Legal Task Group within NIST’s forensic science standards development entity the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC).  She is a frequent case consultant and lecturer on challenging forensic evidence and the use of experts in litigation. Prior to becoming PDS’s general counsel, Ms. Leighton spent eleven years litigating criminal cases; eight years as a staff attorney at PDS, and three years as a trial attorney in the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.  Ms. Leighton received her B.A. in Economics from Bowdoin College, Magna Cum Laude, and her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center, Cum Laude.