Cornell Law School Logo - white on transparent background

Speaker Bios

Vera Bergelson is a Distinguished Professor of Law and Robert E. Knowlton Scholar at Rutgers Law School. She specializes in criminal law theory and has written widely about criminal punishment, affirmative defenses, sexual offenses, and victimless crime. She is a recipient of the Greg Lastowka Memorial Award for Scholarly Excellence. She has served as a Chair of the Section of Jurisprudence of the Association of American Law Schools. She is on editorial boards of Studies in Penal Theory and Ethics; The Journal of Criminal Law; Law and Philosophy; and BdeF and Edisofer.

John Blume is the Samuel F. Leibowitz Professor of Trial Techniques at Cornell Law School. He also serves as Director of the Cornell Death Penalty Project. He teaches Criminal Procedure, the Death Penalty in America and supervises the Capital Punishment and Juvenile Justice Clinic. He has authored (or co-authored) several books and numerous articles related to capital punishment, criminal procedure and federal habeas corpus. He also has, and continues to, represent indigent death sentenced inmates and juveniles sentenced to life without parole. He has argued eight capital cases in the Supreme Court of the United States and served as co-counsel in more than a dozen other cases heard by the Supreme Court. Additionally, he has been lead counsel in numerous other appeals heard by the lower federal courts and state supreme courts. Most recently he argued the case in the South Carolina Supreme Court for several South Carolina death sentenced inmates who challenged South Carolina’s new execution methods statute which reauthorized the use of the electric chair and adopted, for the first time, the firing squad. 

Neil H. Buchanan, an economist and legal scholar, is currently a visiting professor at both Osgoode Hall Law School and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. He also holds the James J. Freeland Eminent Scholar Chair in Taxation at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law. His work focuses on intergenerational justice, retirement security, constitutional issues in government budgeting, and a fundamental critique of orthodox economic theory.

Erwin Chemerinsky is Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law. He was previously the Founding Dean and Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law, University of California, Irvine School of Law, and a professor at Duke Law School, University of Southern California Gould School of Law, and DePaul College of Law. Dean Chemerinsky is the author of 17 books and over 200 law review articles and frequently argues appellate cases, including those in the United States Supreme Court. He was president of the Association of American Law Schools in 2022.

Deborah Dinner is the Dorothea S. Clarke Professor of Law at Cornell Law School. Dinner is a legal historian whose scholarship examines the interaction between social movements, political culture, and legal change. Her research focuses on questions of gender and class equity in the legal regulation of the workplace and labor markets, family relationships, the public-private welfare regime, and insurance law. Dinner’s forthcoming book, The Sex Equality Dilemma: Work, Family, and Legal Change in Neoliberal America (Cambridge University Press 2024) examines legal and political debates about the meaning of sex equality in the late twentieth century. Dinner is currently developing a new project, which analyzes the rise of the actuarial sciences as a source of legal authority and examines the relationship between private insurance and social inequality.

Michael C. Dorf is the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell Law School.  He and Sherry Colb met as opponents in a trial advocacy class as students at Harvard Law School in 1990 and were married a year later, collaborating as colleagues, parents to their two daughters, and partners in every respect until Sherry’s death. Mike is the author, co-author, or editor of well over a hundred articles and essays in law reviews and peer-edited science and social science journals as well as six books, including Beating Hearts: Abortion and Animal Rights (Columbia University Press, 2016), co-authored with Sherry. His popular writing appears regularly in the web-based magazine Verdict and on his eponymous blog, Dorf on Law, both of which were also outlets for many of Sherry’s most trenchant essays.

Sally Goldfarb is a Professor of Law at Rutgers Law School in Camden, NJ. Before joining the Rutgers faculty, Professor Goldfarb was a senior staff attorney at the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (now known as Legal Momentum), where she helped draft the federal Violence Against Women Act and founded and chaired the national coalition that spurred its passage. Professor Goldfarb is a frequent participant in academic symposia and is the author of many articles and book chapters on feminist legal theory, family law, and other topics. In recognition of her expertise on legal remedies for violence against women, Professor Goldfarb has advised the United Nations, was invited to the White House, and received a 20/20 Vision Award from the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence. Professor Goldfarb is the recipient of four teaching awards at Rutgers and has also taught at Harvard Law School, New York University School of Law, and University of Pennsylvania Law School. She is a graduate of Yale College (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and Yale Law School.

Sheri Johnson received her B.A. from the University of Minnesota and her J.D. from Yale University. After working for the public defender in New York City, she began teaching at the Cornell Law School, where she is now the James and Mark Flanagan Professor of Law. She teaches Constitutional Law and the Capital Punishment Clinics. Her scholarly interests focus on racial issues in the criminal process, and she has written articles addressing race and detention decisions, race and jury selection, race and identification issues, race and credibility determinations, and the manipulation of racial imagery in criminal trials. She is co-director of the Cornell Death Penalty Project and a consultant for Texas HAT. She has argued cases in the Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Eleventh Courts of Appeal, and argued Flowers v. Mississippi in the United States Supreme Court.

Pamela Karlan is Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law and co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford Law School. She has published dozens of scholarly articles and is the co-author of three leading casebooks. Pam has been a law clerk to Justice Harry Blackmun, an assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, a member of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, and a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Pam is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Law Institute. In 2016, she was named one of the Politico 50 — a group of “thinkers, doers, and visionaries transforming American politics”; earlier in her career, the American Lawyer named her to its Public Sector 45 — a group of lawyers “actively using their law degrees to change lives.”

John Leubsdorf is a Distinguished Professor of Law at Rutgers. He has published extensively in Civil Procedure, Professional Responsibility, Law and Literature, and Evidence. He helped represent the plaintiffs in the Boston school desegregation case, and served as Associate Reporter for the Restatement of the Law Governing Lawyers.

Tracey Maclin is Professor of Law and Raymond & Miriam Ehrlich Eminent Scholar Chair. Prior to joining the University of Florida faculty, he taught at Boston University School of Law, Cornell Law School, Harvard Law School and the University of Kentucky College of Law. Before entering law teaching, Professor Maclin served as a law clerk to Judge Boyce F. Martin, Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and worked at Cahill, Gordon & Reindel. Professor Maclin teaches courses in Constitutional Law and Constitutional Criminal Procedure. He also teaches a seminar on the Supreme Court’s cases in criminal procedure, criminal law, habeas corpus and the death penalty. His scholarship focuses on the Fourth Amendment and the Self-Incrimination Clause of the Fifth Amendment. He has published many law review articles and book chapters on constitutional criminal procedure topics. He is the author of The Supreme Court and the Fourth Amendment’s Exclusionary Rule (Oxford University Press 2013). In addition to his legal scholarship, Professor Maclin has authored over a dozen amicus curiae briefs and served as counsel of record for the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Cato Institute in Fourth Amendment cases in the United States Supreme Court.

Mariann Sullivan teaches animal law at Cornell Law School. She has served as the chair of the American Bar Association’s Tort Trial Insurance Practice Section’s Animal Law Committee and the Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals of the New York City Bar Association. She is also the 2021 recipient of the American Association of Law Schools’ Excellence in Animal Law: Scholarship-Teaching-Service Award. In addition to having written articles on animal law and spoken at numerous conferences, she has been the host of the monthly Animal Law Podcast since 2015 and the co-host of the weekly Our Hen House podcast since 2010.

George C. Thomas III is the Rutgers University Board of Governors Professor of Law and Judge Alexander P. Waugh, Sr., Distinguished Scholar at Rutgers Law School. Prior to joining the Rutgers faculty, Thomas practiced law in Tennessee and was a member of the University of Tennessee faculty where he taught criminal justice and political science. He joined the Rutgers law faculty in 1986 and has won the Rutgers Law outstanding teacher award five times. He has published over seventy articles and five books, including Confessions of Guilt: From Torture to Miranda and Beyond (Oxford University Press, 2012) (co-authored with Richard A. Leo); The Supreme Court on Trial: How the American Justice System Sacrifices Innocent Defendants (University of Michigan Press, 2008); and Double Jeopardy: The History, the Law (NYU Press, 1998). His casebook on criminal procedure, co-authored with Joshua Dressler and Dan Medwed, is widely used.

Penny M. Venetis is a Distinguished Clinical Professor of Law and the Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise Scholar at Rutgers Law School, where she is the founder and Director of the International Human Rights Clinic. She also served as the Co-Director of the Constitutional Litigation Clinic, the nation’s first civil rights impact litigation clinic legal clinic (which was founded in 1970). Her scholarship focuses on the interplay between U.S. constitutional law and international human rights law. Professor Venetis has litigated cutting-edge issues in state and federal courts throughout the U.S., as well as in international tribunals. Her lawsuits have covered issues of first impression in the areas of: freedom of speech, voting rights, equal protection, rape and sexual abuse, human trafficking, the Alien Tort Statue, and immigrants’ rights. Her 1995 Jama lawsuit led to the first federal court decision to find that international human rights law can be applied in damages actions for abuses committed in the U.S. Her challenge of felony disenfranchisement (state laws that disenfranchise over 5 million U.S. citizens simply because they have felony convictions) is currently being heard by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Professor Venetis was instrumental in drafting and helping to pass FOSTA/SESTA (federal anti-human trafficking legislation), and in introducing “sextortion” into the criminal codes of over 25 states to protect the public, particularly children, from online sexual predators. Professor Venetis has testified before many legislative bodies around the U.S. Her work has been covered widely by the media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Politico.