Heather Pinckney

Director, Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia
Work 400 7th Street NW suite 604 Washington DC 20004 TPI Attendance: June, 2004
Photo of Heather Pinckney


In summer 2022, Ms. Heather Pinckney was named the incoming Director of Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (hereinafter PDS)- widely recognized as the premier public defender office in the country. Prior to this exciting move, she was a partner at Harden and Pinckney, PLLC, a boutique law firm specializing in the areas of criminal defense litigation, civil litigation, contract and family law. She was the Co-chair of the D.C. Bar Criminal Law and Individual Rights Section Steering Committee for 3 years.

Before entering into private practice, Ms. Pinckney served as the Deputy Chief of the Trial Division for the PDS. As Deputy Trial Chief, Ms. Pinckney assisted in the management and day to day operations of the trial division and supervised over 60 attorneys litigating criminal cases in the District of Columbia Superior Court. Prior to becoming Deputy Trial Chief, Ms. Pinckney served for eight years as a staff attorney at PDS. She also served for four years as the Chair of the D.C. Public Defender Service Hiring Committee.

During her tenure, Ms. Pinckney represented juvenile and adult indigent clients on criminal matters ranging from misdemeanors to homicides before both, the D.C Superior Court and the United States Parole Commission. Her representations have included individuals charged with homicide, sex offenses, arson, firearm violations, and obstruction of justice. She has tried numerous jury trials to verdict and has represented individuals at every stage of criminal litigation, including pre-indictment, grand jury, trial and post-conviction.

Prior to beginning at PDS, she worked for the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice. She also worked for The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless and TransAfrica. She served as chair of the 2005 PDS Criminal Practice Institute Conference, acted as faculty for numerous PDS Summer Series Training Sessions and was an active member of the PDS Forensic Practice Group, which dealt with areas involving blood spatter and DNA.

Ms. Pinckney teaches litigation skills at Trial Skills Programs all around the country, including the states of Colorado, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Wisconsin. She has also served as a guest lecturer at Howard University School of Law, American University School of Law, George Washington University School of law, The David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC) and the Harvard Law School Trial Advocacy Workshop. She currently serves as a faculty member for Gideon’s Promise and the National Criminal Defense College in Macon, Georgia.

Ms. Pinckney is the proud recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus Award from D.C. Law Students in Court, in recognition of her commitment to pro bono criminal defense work on behalf of indigent clients. In 2017 and 2018, she and her business partner were each named one of Washington D.C.’s Best Lawyers for Criminal Defense by the Washingtonian Magazine.

She is a native Washingtonian and received her B.A. from Marymount University and her J.D. from George Washington University School of Law. Ms. Pinckney is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia.


Recent Teaching History

2022 NCDC Trial Practice Institute (July Session)