The Honorable Debra A. Livingston
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the Paul J. Kellner Professor of Law at Columbia Law School
Debra A. Livingston, the Paul J. Kellner Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She was appointed to the position in 2007 by President George W. Bush and hears appeals cases from federal district courts in New York, Vermont, and Connecticut.
Judge Livingston received her bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Princeton University, where she was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School and a former editor of the Harvard Law Review. Fittingly, she began her legal career at the Second Circuit, where she clerked for Judge J. Edward Lumbard. Judge Livingston then spent about a year practicing in the New York City office of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, where she specialized in commercial litigation at the federal and state levels. During this time at the firm, Judge Livingston devoted more than 600 pro bono hours to Giarratano v. Murray, a case involving death row inmates in Virginia seeking the right to counsel for post-conviction meetings.
In 1986, Judge Livingston became an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. She served in both the General Crimes and Public Corruption units before being named Deputy Chief of Appeals in the Criminal Division. In this latter role, she wrote and edited briefs and supervised other Assistant U.S. Attorneys in connection with arguments before the Second Circuit.
In 1991, Judge Livingston returned to Paul, Weiss again for about one year before embarking on a long and notable career in academia. She first taught at the University of Michigan Law School and then joined the Columbia Law School faculty in 1994. A well-liked instructor and a highly respected scholar, Judge Livingston was named the Paul J. Kellner Professor of Law in 2004. At the Law School, she has taught Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Evidence, as well as courses on national security and terrorism. She is the co-author of the widely referenced casebook Comprehensive Criminal Procedure and has published academic articles on a wide variety of legal topics. During her time at Columbia, she also served for nine years as a Commissioner on New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, which is the independent agency charged with investigating and, in appropriate cases, recommending discipline in connection with complaints against NYPD officers.
In 2005, Judge Livingston served as the Law School’s vice dean, and she remains an active faculty member. She oversees an appellate court externship at Columbia Law School that enables students to conduct legal research and draft bench memos related to cases heard at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.