David Aaronson

B.J. Tennery Professor of Law

Office: Room 410
Phone: 202-274-4201
E-mail: vCard


David E. Aaronson is Professor of Law and B. J. Tennery Scholar. He is Director of WCL’s nationally recognized Trial Advocacy Program and WCL’s Advocacy LL.M Program. His areas of specialization include: Criminal and Civil Trial Advocacy, Evidence, and Criminal Law and Procedure. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he was selected to be a Prettyman Fellow in the Georgetown University Graduate Law Center's Legal Internship Program, the first LLM program in the United States focusing on trial advocacy skills. He represented indigent persons accused of crime in Federal and local courts and served as a clinical instructor. Prior to joining the Washington College of Law faculty, he practiced civil and criminal law with a private law firm. As a WCL professor, he served as Interim Director of WCL’s Clinical Programs and Director of the Maryland Criminal Justice Clinic, creating the prosecutor component. He was a co-principal investigator of two U.S. Department of Justice funded national criminal justice studies, including a path-breaking study of “Alternatives to Conventional Criminal Adjudication,” and “Decriminalization of Public Drunkenness Laws.”

Professor Aaronson is a past chair of the Maryland State Bar Association's Section of Criminal Law and Practice and, currently, is an ex officio member. He has served on the executive committee of the Association of American Law School’s Criminal Justice Section. He is a member, former co-chair and chair of the ABA's Criminal Justice Section's Rules of Criminal Procedure, Evidence, and Police Practices Committee. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute and the American Bar Foundation. He received the Robert C. Heeney Award in 1999 (presented “to those individuals exemplifying the highest professional standards and achievement in the field of criminal law during their distinguished careers”) from the Maryland State Bar Association, Section of Criminal Law and Practice. In 2011, he received WCL’s Pauline Ruyle Moore Scholar Award in recognition of his scholarly work. He has been twice honored as "Outstanding Teacher" and as American University Scholar/Teacher of the Year.

Professor Aaronson has authored or co-authored eight books and monographs and numerous articles on topics such as crime victims’ rights and remedies, criminal jury instructions, cross-racial eye witness identification, the insanity defense, and the death penalty. He authored Maryland Criminal Jury Instructions and Commentary, Maryland’s first book of criminal pattern jury instructions, in 1975. The second edition was published in 1988. The two volume third edition, published in 2009, is supplemented annually and is available in hardback and electronically at www.lexisnexis.com. This work includes detailed commentary on Maryland criminal law, aspects of criminal procedure and evidence, and applicable U.S. Supreme Court decisions on more than 260 topics. It has been in cited in many decisions by Maryland’s highest courts.



Currently Teaching

Areas of Specialization

  • Criminal Law
  • Evidence
  • Trial Advocacy
  • Criminal Procedure

Degrees & Universities

  • Ph.D., George Washington University 1970 (economics)
  • LL.M., Georgetown University Law Center 1965
  • LL.B., Harvard Law School 1964
  • M.A., George Washington University 1964
  • B.A., George Washington University 1961

  • Selected Publications

    • David Aaronson and Sydney Patterson, Modernizing Jury Instructions in the Age of Social Media, 27 ABA Crim. Just. 4 (Winter 2013).
    • David Aaronson, Contributing Author, Maryland’s Death Penalty: Still Here, Still Unfair. More Arbitrary and Costly, MD CASE – Maryland Citizens Against State Executions (prepared for members of the Mar (2012).
    • David Aaronson, Maryland Criminal Jury Instructions and Commentary, 2011 Cumulative Supplement (3d ed., Lexis-Nexis 2009).
    • David Aaronson, Maryland Criminal Jury Instructions and Commentary, 2010 Supplement (3d. ed., Lexis-Nexis 2009).
    • David Aaronson, Maryland Criminal Jury Instructions and Commentary (3d. ed., Lexis-Nexis 2009).
    • David Aaronson, Proposed Maryland Jury Instruction on Cross-Racial Identification, 3 Crim. L. Br. 2 (Spring 2008).
    • David Aaronson, Elizabeth I. Boals & Anthony C. Morella, Reflections: The Honorable Irma S. Raker – Judge, Teacher and Role Model, 57 Am. U. L. Rev. 1563 (2008).
    • David Aaronson, New Rights and Remedies: The Federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004, 28 Pace L. Rev. 623 (2008).
    • David Aaronson, Cross-Racial Identification of Defendants in Criminal Cases: A Proposed Model Jury Instruction, 23 Crim. Just. 4 (2008).
    • + More Publications...

    • Books

    • David Aaronson, Maryland Criminal Jury Instructions and Commentary (2d ed., Michie Co. 1988).
    • David Aaronson & R. Simon, The Defense of Insanity: A Critical Assessment of Law and Policy in the Post-Hinckley Era (Praeger Books 1988).
    • David Aaronson, C.T. Dienes & M.C. Musheno, Public Policy and Police Discretion: Processes of Decriminalization (The Clark Boardman Company 1984).
    • David Aaronson, C.T. Dienes & M.C. Musheno, Decriminalization of Public Drunkeness: Tracing the Implementation of a Public Policy (U.S. Govt. Printing Off. 1982).
    • David Aaronson, N. Kittrie, & D. Saari, Alternatives to Conventional Criminal Adjudication: Guidebook for Planners and Practitioners (U.S. Govt. Printing Off. 1977).
    • David Aaronson, B. Hoff, P. Jazi, N. Kittire, & D. Saari, The New Justice: Alternatives to Conventional Criminal Adjudication (U.S. Govt. Printing Off. 1977).
    • David Aaronson, Maryland Criminal Justice Clinic Trial Practice Manual (American University Law School, Georgetown University Law School 1973).
    • Other Publications

    • David Aaronson, Helping Jurors to Make Sense of Expert Testimony, Am. Inquiry 4 (Fall 1989).
    • David Aaronson & R. Simon, The Defense of Insanity, in Controversial Issues in Crime and Justice (Hirschi & Scott, eds., Sage Publications 1988).
    • David Aaronson, The Insanity Defense: Law and Policy, Proceedings of the Judicial Conference of the District of Columbia Circuit, 111 Fed. R. Dec. 221 (1986).
    • David Aaronson, Maryland Responds to the Hinckley Case: Changes in the Insanity Defense, 19 Md. B. J. 33 (Jan. 1985).
    • David Aaronson, C.T. Dienes & M.C. Musheno, Street Level Law: Public Policy and Police Discretion in Decriminalizing Public Drunkenness, 25 Am. Behavioral Sci. 3375 (Sept./Oct. 1981).
    • David Aaronson, Improving Police Discretion: Rationality in Handling Public Inebriates: Part II, 30 Admin. L. Rev. 93 (1978).
    • David Aaronson, C.T. Dienes & M.C. Musheno, Changing the Public Drunkeness Laws: The Impact of Decriminalization, 12 L. & Socy. Rev. 405 (1978).
    • David Aaronson, Improving Police Discretion: Rationality in Handling Public Inebriates: Part I, 29 Admin. L. Rev. 447 (1977).
    • David Aaronson, Policing Public Inebriates in Decriminalized Cities: A Summary of Methods and Findings, 6 Contemp. Drug Probs. 207 (1977).
    • David Aaronson & J. Sweeny, Criminal Law Reform in the District of Columbia: An Assessment of Needs and Directions, 24 Am. U. L. Rev. 207 (1975).
    • David Aaronson & R. Wallace, A Reconsideration of the Fourth Amendment's Doctrine of Search Incident to Arrest, 64 Geo. L.J. 3353 (1975).
    • David Aaronson, A Legislative History of the Property Rights in Inventions Provisions of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in An Evaluation of the Patent Polices of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (United States Government Printing Office 1966).
  • + Selected Presentations

    • David Aaronson, Presentation, Testimony in Support of HB 1075 to Repeal the Death Penalty (Maryland General Assembly, House of Delegates, Judiciary Committee, Annapolis, Md., Mar. 2011).