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Commonwealth's Attorney for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church

The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is responsible for prosecuting crimes committed in Arlington County and the City of Falls Church and is elected to a four-year term. Visit https://courts.arlingtonva.us/commonwealth-attorney/ for more information.

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    Parisa Dehghani-Tafti
    (Dem)

Biographical Information

Please provide a brief biography and summary of your qualifications.

In your own words, how would you describe the responsibilities of the office that you are seeking?

What do you believe is the top priority for your role, and what is your plan to address it?

Campaign Phone (571) 278-7368
I have a 20-year record of criminal justice reform. As a public defender with the District of Columbia’s Public Defender Service, I litigated systemic and constitutional issues, won the first DNA exoneration in DC, and represented individual clients in parole proceedings. As the legal director of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, I worked to exonerate numerous innocent individuals in DC, Virginia, and Maryland incarcerated for crimes they did not commit. As an adjunct law professor at Georgetown University Law Center and at George Washington University School of Law, I help train the next generation of criminal lawyers. I graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a BA in philosophy and comparative literature, and obtained my JD from New York University School of Law. I served as Press Chair and Member of the Steering Committee for the Arlington County Democratic Committee and on the Criminal Justice Committee for the Arlington Chapter of the NAACP.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney is the top public safety official in the judicial system. The responsibilities of the office can be divided in four core functions: The first is to set policy and priorities in order to make certain that the focus, manner, and extent of our prosecution decisions achieve both safety and justice for the community. The second is to direct the office’s resources in ways that focus on serious crimes, protect vulnerable members of our community, and support diversion and alternative programs such as drug and mental health courts, and restorative justice. The third is to manage, train and supervise attorneys and staff. And last but not least is to undertake community engagement, public education, and transparency to prevent crime to begin with and to respond to the concerns of the community.
My top priorities are to establish a restorative justice program, set up a mental health docket, adopt fair discovery, and make the office transparent to the public. Since the primary I have worked with a transition team to craft a plan to implement each of these priorities. I am deeply sensitive to the fact that this is the first time in over fifty years when a candidate for Commonwealth’s Attorney has come from outside of the office. While I believe that the choice between safety and justice has always been a false one, I also have the utmost respect for the institutional knowledge and expertise that resides in the current office. Lastly, our delegates, senators, county board, and school board members have deep and intimate knowledge of the needs in our community; I see as one of my main tasks to be an honest partner with them, to listen to their expertise, and take heed of their priorities – because I know the criminal justice system cannot and should not solve every problem.