THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE

The Executive Office provides the vision, guidance, and support required to manage the day-to-day and long-term needs of PDS’s clients, its dedicated staff, and the organization. Functions include strategic planning, legal counsel, legislative guidance, policies and procedures, external committee representation, mentoring, and communications and marketing.


Avis E. Buchanan

Avis E. Buchanan

Avis E. Buchanan
Director
Email  ABuchanan@pdsdc.org
Avis E. Buchanan is the director of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS), which provides defense and related legal and non-legal services to people charged with crimes in the local District of Columbia courts who cannot afford to hire an attorney. After graduating from Michigan State University, then Harvard Law School, she worked as a law clerk for the late Honorable Theodore J. McMillian of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. In 1982, Ms. Buchanan joined PDS as a staff attorney, doing criminal defense work for six and a half years. For the next 13 years, Ms. Buchanan served as staff attorney, director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Project, and then director of Litigation at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs; she was primarily responsible for litigating individual and class action employment and public accommodations cases in various federal and local courts. Ms. Buchanan rejoined PDS in 2002 as the deputy director. In 2004, she was selected to serve as PDS’s director.


Positions held at PDS:

Director (2004-Present) Deputy Director (2002-2004) Staff Attorney (1982-1989) Intern Investigator (Summer 1979)
Awards:

2012 Wiley A. Branton Award (Ms. Buchanan received this award from the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs for her significant contributions to ensuring equal justice for all in the community.) 1998 Edwin D. Wolf Award (Ms. Buchanan received this award from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law for her dedication to securing fair employment opportunities for racial and ethnic minorities.)
Articles about Ms. Buchanan:

Cool Yet Determined: Avis Buchanan is Steady Force at Public Defender Service, The National Law Journal, August 15, 2011 The Intersection of Work and Faith, Spectrum, January 26, 2009


Rudolph "Rudy" Acree, Jr.

Rudolph Acree, Jr.

Rudolph Acree, Jr.
Deputy Director
Email  RAcree@pdsdc.org
Rudolph “Rudy” Acree, Jr. is the deputy director of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS). Mr. Acree began his legal career as a staff attorney at PDS in 1992. During his tenure, Mr. Acree represented children in juvenile delinquency cases and handled countless misdemeanor and felony cases. He was promoted to the position of PDS training director and later served as the deputy chief of the Trial Division. Upon leaving PDS, Mr. Acree opened his own law practice where he handled a wide range of civil and criminal matters in the District of Columbia and in other jurisdictions. Mr. Acree is a graduate of Howard University and the University of North Carolina School of Law. Before attending law school, he served in the D.C. National Guard and the Army National Guard of New Jersey, and achieved the rank of First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.


Positions held at PDS:

Deputy Director (2012-Present) Deputy Chief, Trial Division (2001-2002) Training Director, Trial Division (1998-2001) Staff Attorney (1992-1998)
Awards:

2012 Washington D.C. Super Lawyer List


Julia Leighton

Julia Leighton

Julia Leighton
General Counsel
Email  JLeighton@pdsdc.org
Julia Leighton is the general counsel for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS). As general counsel, Ms. Leighton advises the PDS’s Board of Trustees, the PDS management team, and PDS lawyers on a wide variety of legal issues. Ms. Leighton is also a former member of the D.C. Bar Legal Ethics Committee and a current member of the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct Review Committee. In addition to serving as general counsel, Ms. Leighton is a member of PDS’s Forensic Practice Group and was a 2001 founding member. 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 a B.A. in Economics from Bowdoin College Magna Cum Laude, and her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center, Cum Laude.


Positions held at PDS:

General Counsel (2002-Present) Special Counsel to the Director (2000-2002) Staff Attorney, Trial Division (1989-1997)