Areas of Study

Criminal Law


Criminal law at NYU is a rich discipline that begins with the first-year course in Criminal Law, which covers general principles of criminal responsibility. Second-year students can take courses in evidence or criminal procedure. Most law schools have only one course in criminal procedure—at NYU, students can choose from four. Myriad upper-level advanced courses in substantive and procedural criminal law include Business Crime, Federal Criminal Law, and Juvenile Justice. There are also many seminars to choose from and eight hands-on clinics offered in criminal law.

A Variety of Approaches

The sociology of crime and punishment fascinates Professors David Garland, James Jacobs, and Jerome Skolnick. Garland, the author of the seminal The Culture of Control: Crime and Social Order in the Contemporary Society, virtually invented the field of the sociology of punishment, while Jacobs and Skolnick, co-directors of the Center for Research in Crime and Justice, are experts on organized crime and the sociology of policing, respectively. Jacobs has taught Criminal Procedure, Federal Criminal Law, and Juvenile Justice. Professor Anthony Thompson takes a more hands-on sociological approach: He is the founder of the country’s first Community Reentry and Reintegration Clinic, now part of the Criminal Defense and Reentry Clinic, one of the eight criminal law clinics available to students.

Applying the lessons and theory of administrative law to the administration of criminal justice is Professor Rachel Barkow’s specialty. Given the list of important criminal justice decisions made outside the courtroom—plea bargains, charging decisions, sentencing guidelines, and parole board rulings, among others—Barkow, a leading sentencing scholar, has much material to mine. Her work has explored the mechanisms of administrative oversight of law enforcement, including through jury nullification and sentencing commissions.

Professor Erin Murphy's work focuses on the intersection between new technology and the criminal justice system. An expert in DNA evidence, Murphy often collaborates with faculty in the sciences and social sciences. She delights in learning the ins and outs of the latest new thing, whether functional MRI imaging for lie detection, facial recognition software or other biometric technologies, or GPS location trackers.

Professors Jennifer Arlen '86 and Kevin Davis focus on crime in connection with the field of law and economics. Arlen engages in economic analysis of corporate criminal liability, while Davis takes an active interest in transnational anti-corruption law, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and has written extensively on the impact of that body of law on both multinational firms and developing countries.

International Perspective

The criminal law program has a very strong international dimension that benefits from interdisciplinary perspectives. Professors David Golove, Stephen Holmes, Richard Pildes, and Samuel Rascoff, the faculty co-directors of the Center on Law and Security, take on terrorism. Professor Jerome Cohen leads a course on Chinese law and society. Professor Holly Maguigan runs the Comparative Criminal Justice Clinic. Professor Davis is interested in the law of development and has written on transnational bribery. Professor Theodor Meron, on leave serving as president of both the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, is an expert in international criminal law. Professor Ronald Noble, also on leave, is currently serving his third term as secretary general of Interpol.

Constitutional Considerations

From gun control (Jacobs’s specialty) to capital punishment (Amsterdam, Garland, and Stevenson’s area), constitutional issues are front and center within the study of criminal law at NYU. Professor Stephen Schulhofer, a co-author of the leading casebook on criminal law, is also author of Rethinking the Patriot Act: Ideas for Reform and an authority on the high cost of security. Professors Bryan Stevenson and Anthony Amsterdam are legendary figures in the world of death penalty litigation, as well as active teachers and scholars. (Read profiles of Stevenson and Amsterdam in the NYU Law Magazine.) Professors Barry Friedman and Randy Hertz are experts in habeas corpus and criminal procedure. Hertz and Professor Martin Guggenheim '71 are also authorities on juvenile justice. Professor Kim Taylor-Thompson is a national leader on indigent defense.

Corporate Crime and Financial Misdealing

NYU also has the leading program in corporate crime and financial misdealing, benefiting from faculty who are the leading experts in corporate criminal enforcement, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, securities fraud, financial institution regulation, and legal issues relating to mortgage-backed securities. Jennifer Arlen, director of the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement, teaches Business Crime and an advanced seminar on business crime. Kevin Davis is a leading expert on foreign corruption and its effect on developing countries. Stephen Choi, a prominent scholar of securities fraud, co-authored a leading casebook on securities. An expert on financial institutions, Geoffrey Miller wrote a book illuminating the structural roots of the 2008-09 global financial crisis and co-authored the leading casebook on banking and financial institutions. Marcel Kahan studies securities fraud, while Harry First wrote the first law school casebook on business crime. Rachel Barkow published a book on using criminal law to regulate corporate conduct.

Learning from the Experts

The criminal law program benefits from the expertise and teaching excellence of four long-time adjunct professors. Federal District Court Judge John Gleeson, formerly chief of the organized crime unit in the US Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York, teaches seminars on complex criminal investigations and sentencing. Ronald Goldstock, former director of the New York State Organized Crime Task Force and former inspector general of the US Department of Labor, teaches seminars on organized crime control and corruption control. James Orenstein ’87, United States magistrate judge and former federal prosecutor, teaches seminars on complex criminal investigations (with Gleeson) and on ethics in criminal justice administration. S. Andrew Schaffer, a former assistant US attorney in Manhattan and currently the deputy commissioner for legal matters for the New York City Police Department, teaches criminal procedure.

More on the Criminal Law program from the NYU Law Magazine.

Center on the Administration of Criminal Law Fellowship

The 13 student fellows are involved in all aspects of the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law's work. During the two-year fellowship, they conduct research to support the center’s academic, litigation, and policy work. Fellows have the opportunity to co-author articles and other works of scholarship, and help plan and organize conferences and other events involving prominent legal scholars and practitioners.

Corporate Compliance and Enforcement Fellowship

Each year, three to four students receive a fellowship from the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement to work with Professor Jennifer Arlen on her ongoing research projects. Students are expected to co-write articles and research memos. They also help organize and participate in the program's annual conference on corporate crime and financial misdealing.

Criminal Justice Fellowship

The Criminal Justice Fellowship is for a second-year student who wants to collaborate with Professor James Jacobs on one of his ongoing research projects. The fellow receives three academic credits and a $7,500 stipend over two years. Each fellow is expected to co-write an article or book. Jacobs, who has written or co-written 15 books, has worked with students on topics ranging from organized crime to drug testing.