Meet Parisa

Parisa Dehghani-Tafti has a 20-year record of working to reform the criminal justice system as a public defender, an innocence protection attorney, and a law professor.  As your Commonwealth’s Attorney, she will pursue justice for all, serve the community equitably, and build a criminal justice system that promotes safety, fairness, transparency, and accountability.

As a public defender, Parisa litigated cases of systemic and constitutional issues, advocated to eliminate race, class, and gender bias in criminal proceedings, represented clients in parole proceedings, and obtained the first DNA exoneration in Washington, DC, which led to the discovery of false testimony by an FBI analysis and resulted in the FBI reviewing thousands of past cases.  As the legal director of an innocence protection organization, Parisa works to exonerate individuals wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit by investigating and solving decades-old cold cases involving such serious crimes as murder, rape, and arson.  As a law professor, Parisa has authored a law review article, demonstrating the need for meaningful national reforms to ensure the reliability of criminal convictions.

Parisa’s vast experience spans all stages of criminal law practice, from trial to habeas corpus proceedings; from parole hearings to death penalty representation.  She has participated in and briefed numerous cases before the United States Supreme Court and has successfully argued before the Virginia Supreme Court.  Throughout her career, she has been a voice for the indigent, an advocate for the innocent, a resource for returning citizens to reconnect with loved ones and rebuild their lives after paying their debt to society, and a supporter of survivors, victims, and their families to seek justice for themselves and their families. Parisa’s deep lived-in experience on behalf of the vulnerable gives her a unique perspective on the impact on the lives of those interacting with our justice system.  Above all, she sees her role as bringing to the office of Commonwealth’s Attorney the values that are part of Arlington and the City of Falls Church: diversity, openness, fairness, transparency, accountability.

Parisa came to the United States as a child with her parents, Roohi and Pooneh. She attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she obtained a B.A. in Philosophy and Comparative Literature, and the New York University School of Law, where she obtained J.D. She has lived in Arlington for 12 years with her husband, a civil rights lawyer and law professor at Georgetown University Law Center. They have two children who attend Arlington Public Schools. Parisa served as Press Chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee. She is a member of the Arlington branch of the NAACP and serves on its Criminal Justice Committee.

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