David Patton

Partner, Kaplan Hecker & Fink
Work TPI Attendance: June, 2003
Photo of David Patton


David Patton is a partner at Kaplan Hecker & Fink in New York City. From 2011 to 2023, he was the Executive Director of the Federal Defenders of New York, the federal public defender office for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. From 2002 to 2008, he worked at the Federal Defenders as a trial attorney in the Manhattan office.

David has served as lead or co-counsel in dozens of federal trials. He has achieved outright acquittals in more than half of the federal cases he has personally tried to a jury. Those cases span a wide range of charges, including drug trafficking, firearms, counterfeiting, fraud, insider trading, and terrorism. Between October 2022 and March 2023, he successfully represented a client in the first federal death penalty trial under the Biden Administration, which resulted in a life sentence.

David is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Law Institute. Among other publications, he is the author of The Structure of Federal Public Defense: A Call for Independence, 102 CORNELL L. REV. 101 (2017) and Federal Public Defense in an Age of Inquisition, 122 YALE L.J. 100 (2013). David currently teaches Professional Responsibility in Criminal Law as an Adjunct Professor of Law at N.Y.U. From 2008-2010, he was an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Alabama where he taught Criminal Law and directed the Criminal Defense Clinic. From 2010 to 2011, he was a Visiting Associate Professor at Stanford Law School and founded the school’s first trial-level criminal defense clinic. Since 2008, Mr. Patton has been a faculty member for Gideon’s Promise, a non-profit organization dedicated to training new public defenders and fostering a community of client-centered lawyers.

David is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served as an editor of the Virginia Law Review. He clerked for the Honorable Claude Hilton of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Prior to joining the Federal Defenders in 2002, he was an associate at the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell.