Elliot Howsie grew up in Wilkinsburg and graduated from Central Catholic High School. He attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania where he obtained both his undergraduate degree and master's degree in criminal justice.

Howsie attended the Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University's evening program while working two full-time jobs. He earned his Juris Doctor in 1998. While attending Duquesne Kline, Howsie served as an intern for the Public Defender's Office as well as Neighborhood Legal Services. Upon graduating from law school, he began his career as a law clerk for the Honorable Justin M. Johnson of the Pennsylvania Superior Court. He 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, Howsie started his own law firm and worked as a sole practitioner. In his practice, he specialized in criminal law matters as well as personal injury cases.

On March 19, 2012, he 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, Howsie is responsible for managing the office and providing effective legal representation to any indigent person that is in need of an attorney.

In 2019, Howsie was unanimously confirmed by the state Senate to a seat on the Court of Common Pleas. He was sworn in as a judge in May 2019.

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


  • J.D., Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University
  • M.S., Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • B.S., Indiana University of Pennsylvania


Profile Information

  • Public Defender Program