Supervising Trial Attorney, Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia
Ieshaah Murphy is a trial attorney, social justice advocate, and educator who is deeply committed to dismantling racial and economic oppression within the legal system. She is currently a Supervising Trial Attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS), where she supervises other trial attorneys and represents indigent children and adults accused of serious offenses at arraignment, pretrial hearings, trial, and post-conviction proceedings. In this role, Ieshaah often confronts the intersection between the criminal system and others, such as housing and education, and works collaboratively with social workers, civil attorneys, and investigators to defend her clients through fierce and methodical advocacy. As a result, Ieshaah has secured countless acquittals, case dismissals, and other outcomes reducing her clients’ exposure to incarceration. In addition to her trial practice, Ieshaah frequently trains lawyers and law students on a variety of topics related to criminal law and trial advocacy. Beyond training attorneys at her agency, Ieshaah regularly conducts trainings for pro bono attorneys and private attorneys practicing as members of the Criminal Justice Act panel. Ieshaah also teaches law students essential trial advocacy and case preparation skills as a faculty member at Harvard Law School’s Trial Advocacy Workshop and as an adjunct professor at the George Washington University Law School. Ieshaah is especially committed to achieving racial equity within public defense. To that end, she is a founding member of the Black Public Defender Association (BPDA), an organization that provides support and training to current Black defenders and seeks to increase the representation of Black lawyers in public defense. Additionally, in her first year at PDS, Ieshaah co-founded the agency’s annual Trial Practice Institute, a public defender training program for law students from underrepresented communities. As a program director for five years, Ieshaah helped establish the program structure, create the training curriculum, and recruit participants from law schools across the nation. A native of Buffalo, New York, Ieshaah received her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Spelman College, where she graduated summa cum laude and as valedictorian. She began her training as a public defender in law school, where she advocated for indigent citizens accused of crimes as a student attorney in the Criminal Justice Institute, defended the rights of incarcerated individuals charged with disciplinary infractions as a member of the Prison Legal Assistance Project, and won awards for excellence in several trial advocacy competitions.