Office of the Public Defender

Office Hours:
Monday through Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
(Last client interview is held at 3:45 pm)

Elliot Howsie, Esquire, Public Defender

Chief Public Defender

Elliot Howsie grew up in Wilkinsburg and graduated from Central Catholic High School.  Mr. Howsie attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania where he obtained both his undergraduate degree and master’s degree in criminal justice.  Mr. Howsie then attended Duquesne Law School’s evening program while working two full-time jobs.  Mr. Howsie earned his Juris Doctor in 1998. While attending Duquesne Law School, Mr. Howsie served as an intern for the Public Defender’s Office as well as Neighborhood Legal Services.  Upon graduating from law school, Mr. Howsie began his career as a law clerk for the Honorable Justin M. Johnson of the Pennsylvania Superior Court.  Mr. Howsie then worked for the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office for five years as an Assistant District Attorney.  After leaving the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, Mr. Howsie started his own law firm and worked as a sole practitioner.  In his practice, Mr. Howsie specialized in criminal law matters as well as personal injury cases. 

On March 19, 2012, Elliot Howsie was appointed by Allegheny County Executive, Rich Fitzgerald, as Allegheny County’s first African American Chief Public Defender.  As the Chief Public Defender of Allegheny County, Elliot Howsie is responsible for managing the office and providing effective legal representation to any indigent person that is in need of an attorney. 

In addition to his professional role, Mr. Howsie serves on the Allegheny County Jail Oversight Board as well as the Macedonia FACE BOARD.  He also teaches at Duquesne Law School as an adjunct professor, where he teaches and mentors first year minority law students.

Our Mission

The Office of the Public Defender is responsible for furnishing competent and effective legal counsel to any person who lacks sufficient funds to obtain legal counsel in any proceeding where representation is constitutionally required.

The Public Defender Act authorizes the Office of the Public Defender to provide legal counsel in the following matters:

  • Where a person is charged with juvenile delinquency;
  • Critical pretrial identification procedures;
  • Preliminary hearings;
  • State habeas corpus proceedings;
  • State trials, including pretrial and post- trial motions;
  • Superior Court appeals;
  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court appeals;
  • Post conviction hearings at the trial and appellate levels;
  • Criminal extradition proceedings;
  • Probation and parole violation hearings;
  • Involuntary commitment under the Mental Health Procedures Act;
  • Any proceeding where personal liberty is in jeopardy.