Christina Swarns joined LDF as the Director of the Criminal Justice Practice in November 2003. Prior to joining LDF, Ms. Swarns worked as a Supervising Assistant Federal Defender in the Capital Habeas Corpus Unit of the Philadelphia Federal Defender. In that capacity, Ms. Swarns represented numerous Pennsylvania death sentenced prisoners in their state post‑conviction and federal habeas corpus appeals. Ms. Swarns was one of the attorneys who represented Nicholas Yarris, the first death sentenced prisoner in Pennsylvania to be exonerated by DNA evidence. Additionally, Ms. Swarns secured a federal district court order for a new trial in Laird v. Horn and won new capital sentencings in Commonwealth v. Reyes and Commonwealth v. Chambers.
Prior to joining the Federal Defender, Ms. Swarns worked as a Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Division in Manhattan. Ms. Swarns is a 1993 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a 1990 graduate of Howard University.