Debra Ann Livingston was appointed to the Second Circuit in 2007. At the time of her appointment, she was the Paul J. Kellner Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, where she also served as vice dean.
Livingston, the older sister of two brothers, was born in Waycross, Georgia, and moved throughout the South—Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Florida—during her youth. She attended eight schools in six different cities before graduating from Hialeah Miami Lakes High School in Miami, Florida, where she was editor-in-chief of her school newspaper and worked summers as a clerical assistant in the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office. Livingston’s mother, Sarah Livingston, was a homemaker, while her father, Robert Livingston, began his career as a technician with AT&T and retired (many moves later) as the director of Corporate Labor Relations. Judge Livingston remarked at her induction that she had been blessed with two wonderful parents and that she and her brothers, Robert and Mitchell, grew up in a family “where there was lots of love, lots of humor, where we were surrounded at all times by warmth, affection and support.”
Livingston was a member of Phi Beta Kappa at Princeton University, where she graduated
magna cum laude in 1980 after only three years. At Princeton she was a member of the University Press Club, serving as a stringer for the Associated Press and writing news, reviews, and feature stories for local newspapers. She graduated from Harvard Law School
magna cum laude in 1984, after spending a year between her second and third years of law school in Bangkok, Thailand, where she worked as a legal consultant to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which was then involved in the resettlement of displaced Cambodians. At Harvard, Livingston was an editor on the
Harvard Law Review. She also worked as a teaching assistant for Professors Clark Byse, Archibald Cox, and Lloyd Weinreb.
Following law school, Judge Livingston clerked for Second Circuit Judge J. Edward Lumbard in the very courthouse in which she now serves. Judge Lumbard, a distinguished jurist and former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, first pointed her in the direction of his former office. Thereafter, following a stint as an associate at a major New York firm, Judge Livingston became an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York in 1986, serving in the Criminal Division as a line assistant and as deputy chief appellate attorney. In 1992, following another short stint at the firm, Judge Livingston entered academia, moving to Ann Arbor to join the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School and winning Michigan’s L. Hart Wright Award for excellence in teaching her first year there.
Livingston returned to New York City and joined the faculty at Columbia Law School in 1994. Following her return, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani appointed her as a commissioner to the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, where she served from 1994 to 2003. At Columbia, Livingston has taught evidence, criminal law, and continues regularly to teach criminal procedure. Her scholarship has centered on the Fourth Amendment and on the police function. She is a co-author, with Ronald Allen, Joseph Hoffmann, Andrew Leipold, and Tracey Meares, of COMPREHENSIVE CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, a widely respected casebook now in its fourth edition. Livingston has received Columbia’s Wein Prize for Social Responsibility. In 2014, Chief Justice John Roberts appointed Judge Livingston to the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules.
Judge Livingston is married to John McEnany, a Columbia Law School graduate and the long-serving Associate United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. They have a teenage son.