Angela J. Davis

Professor of Law

Office: Room 388
Phone: 202-274-4230
E-mail: vCard


Angela J. Davis, professor of law at AU's Washington College of Law, is an expert in criminal law and procedure with a specific focus on prosecutorial power and racism in the criminal justice system. Davis previously served as director of the D.C. Public Defender Service, where she began as a staff attorney representing indigent juveniles and adults. She also served as executive director of the National Rainbow Coalition and is a former law clerk of the Honorable Theodore R. Newman, the former Chief Judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals. Davis is the author of Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor (Oxford University Press 2007). She is also the co-editor (with Professor Michael E. Tigar) of Trial Stories (Foundation Press 2007) and the 6th edition of Basic Criminal Procedure (Thomson West 2012) (with Professors Stephen Saltzburg and Daniel Capra). Davis' other scholarly publications include articles in the Michigan, Iowa, Fordham, and Hofstra Law Reviews. Davis won the Pauline Ruyle Moore award for Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor in 2009 and for her Fordham Law Review article, Prosecution and Race: The Power and Privilege of Discretion in 2000. Davis was awarded a Soros Senior Justice Fellowship in 2003. Davis won the American University Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Research, Creative Activity, and Other Professional Contributions in 2009 and the American University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in a Full-Time Appointment in 2002.

Davis is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Peter M. Cicchino Social Justice Foundation, the Frederick Douglas Jordan Scholarship Board, the Southern Center for Human Rights, and the Sentencing Project. She was a reporter for the ABA Justice Kennedy Commission and a member of the ABA Commission for Effective Criminal Sanctions. Davis also serves as a member of the Advisory Board for the Vera Institute of Justice Prosecution and Racial Justice Program. She teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Criminal Defense: Theory and Practice.



Areas of Specialization

  • Criminal Procedure
  • Criminal Law
  • Trial Advocacy

Degrees & Universities

  • J.D., Harvard Law School 1981
  • B.A., Howard University 1978 (summa cum laude)

  • Selected Publications

    • Angela J. Davis, There But For the Grace of God Go I, in How Can You Represent those People (Abbe Smith & Monroe Freedman, eds., Palgrave MacMillan 2013).
    • Angela J. Davis, In Search of Racial Justice: The Role of the Prosecutor, 16 N.Y.U. J. Legis. & Pub. Policy 821 (2013).
    • Angela J. Davis, Mississippi Innocence and the Prosecutor’s Guilt, 25 Geo. J. Leg. Ethics 989 (2012, film review).
    • Angela J. Davis, Stephen Saltzburg & Daniel Capra, Basic Criminal Procedure (6th ed., Thomson West 2012).
    • Angela J. Davis, Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor (Oxford U. Press 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis & Michael E. Tigar, Trial Stories (Foundation Press 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Incarceration and the Imbalance of Power, in Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment (Marc Mauer & Meda Chesney-Lind, eds., New Press 2002).
    • + More Publications...

    • Angela J. Davis, Eric Holder Transformed the Attorney General into an Advocate for the Poor, The New Republic (Sept. 26, 2014).
    • Angela J. Davis, Justice for Michael Brown Rests Almost Entirely in the Hands of This One Man, New Republic (Aug. 18, 2014).
    • Angela J. Davis, The People v. Orenthal James Simpson: Race and Trial Advocacy, in Trial Stories, 283-352 (Michael E. Tigar & Angela J. Davis, Foundation Press 2008).
    • Angela J. Davis, The Legal Profession's Failure to Discipline Unethical Prosecutors, 36 Hostra L. Rev. 275 (2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, They Must Answer For What They've Done, Leg. Times (Aug. 6, 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Racial Fairness in the Criminal Justice System: The Role of the Prosecutor, 39 Colum. Hum. Rights L. Rev. 202 (2007).
    • Angela J. Davis & Marc Mauer, Others Aren't So Lucky as Lindh, Wash. Post (July 20, 2002).
    • Angela J. Davis, In Defense of Judges, Leg. Times (Mar. 18, 2002).
    • Angela J. Davis, The American Prosecutor: Independence, Power, and the Threat of Tyranny, 86 Iowa L. Rev. 393 (2001).
    • Angela J. Davis, Prosecution and Race: The Power and Privilege of Discretion, 67 Fordham L. Rev. 13 (1998) (reprinted in The International Library of Essays, Prosecutors and Prosecution (2007); Susan A. Carle, Lawyers’ Ethics and the Pursuit of Social Justice: A Critical Reader (2005); Dorothy A. Brown, Critical Race Theory: Cases, Materials and Problems (2003); & Carol L. Fine, Journals of Justice: Profound Concepts and Compelling Realities (1999)).
    • Angela J. Davis, Race, Cops, and Traffic Stops, 51 U. Miami L. Rev. 425 (1997).
    • Angela J. Davis, Benign Neglect of Racism in the Criminal Justice System (book review of "Malign Neglect" by Professor Michael Tonry), 94 Mich. L. Rev. 1600 (1996).
  • + Selected Presentations

    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, How Implicit Bias Determines Charge and Case Disposition: The Role of the Prosecutors, Defense, Judge & Jury (Criminal Justice in the 21st Century: Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparity in the Criminal Justice System, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Conference, D.C., Dec. 6, 2013).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, How Can You Represent Those People (Georgetown University Law School, D.C., Oct. 28, 2013).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, Pedagogical Benefits of Courses Based on the HBO Television Series "The Wire" (Southeastern Association of Law Schools Annual Conference, Palm Beach, Fla., Aug. 10, 2013).
    • Angela J. Davis, Presentation, Scholarship and Its Role in the Life of a Law Professor (Association of American Law Schools New Law Teachers Conference, D.C., June 21, 2013).
    • Angela J. Davis, Plenary Session Moderator, Gideon at 50 (District of Columbia Judicial Conference, D.C., Mar. 19, 2013).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, Criminal Law and Procedure – What Use are Legal Academics (Southeastern Association of Law Schools Annual Conference, Amelia Island, Fla., Aug. 2, 2012).
    • Angela J. Davis, Keynote Address, Association of American Law Schools Workshop for Pretenured People of Color Law School Teachers (D.C., June 24, 2012).
    • Angela J. Davis, Presentation, Prosecutorial Power and Abuse (Brennan Center for Justice, N.Y.C., N.Y., Apr. 18, 2012).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, New Frontiers in Race and Criminal Justice (New York University Law School Conference, N.Y.C., N.Y., Apr. 17, 2012).
    • Angela J. Davis, Presentation, Prosecutorial Discretion: The Power to Choose Death (Santa Clara Law School, Santa Clara, Cal., Mar. 29, 2012).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panel Moderator, The 13th Juror: Litigation in the Age of Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook (Judicial Council 12th Annual Spring Symposium, D.C., Mar. 20, 2012).
    • Angela J. Davis, Presentation, Prosecution and Race (Yale Law School, New Haven, Conn., Feb. 15, 2012).
    • Angela J. Davis, Plenary Session Moderator, Criminal Justice 2036: A 25 Year Vision for Reform (The Sentencing Project, D.C., Oct. 11, 2011).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, Consequences: The Burden of History in a Post-Race Era (Context and Consequences: The Hill-Thomas Hearings Twenty Years Later, Georgetown University Law Center, D.C., Oct. 6, 2011).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, Panel on the Documentary "Mississippi Innocence" (The Newseum, D.C., Oct. 3, 2011).
    • Angela J. Davis, Presentation, Prosecutorial Power and Accountability (Maryland Criminal Justice Council Meeting, Md., Sept. 26, 2011).
    • Angela J. Davis, Participant, Plenary Overview Session on Scholarship (Association of American Law Schools Workshop for Pretenured People of Color Law School Teachers, D.C., June 26, 2011).
    • Angela J. Davis, Moderator, Debate on "Should Good People Become Prosecutors?" (Workshop on Criminal Justice: New Challenges and Persistent Controversies, S.F., Cal., Jan. 6, 2011).
    • Angela J. Davis, Moderate, Roundtable Discussion on Discovery (American Bar Association Standards Roundtable, American University Washington College of Law, D.C., Nov. 5, 2010).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panel Moderator, Bridging the Traditional Clinical/Doctrinal Divide (Southeastern Association of Law Schools Annual Meeting, Palm Beach, Fla., July 31, 2010).
    • Angela J. Davis, Keynote Address, The Life of a Law Professor: Writing, Teaching, and Serving (Association of American Law Schools New Law Teachers Conference, D.C., June 18, 2010).
    • Angela J. Davis, Presentation, Prosecutorial Power and Discretion (University of Pretoria Law School Centre for Human Rights, Pretoria, S. Afr., Mar. 8, 2010).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, The Prosecutor’s Role in the problem of Overincarceration (Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference, D.C., Sept. 26, 2009).
    • Angela J. Davis, Presentation, Prosecutorial Misconduct and the Duke Lacrosse Case (University of New Mexico Law School, Albuquerque, N.M., Sept. 9, 2009).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, Prosecutorial Power (Southeastern Association of Law Schools Annual Meeting, Palm Beach, Fl., Aug. 9, 2009).
    • Angela J. Davis, Presentation, How to Produce Scholarship (Association of American Law Schools New Law Teachers Conference, D.C., June 19, 2009).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, Prosecutorial Power and Misconduct (University of Illinois College of Law, Champaign, Ill., Mar. 12, 2009).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, The Impact of the Media on the Quality of Justice: Can the Media Transform a Case? (Just the Beginning Foundation 6th Biennial Conference, D.C., Sept. 27, 2008).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, The Phases and Faces of the Duke LaCrosse Controversy (Southeastern Association of Law Schools Annual Meeting, July 30, 2008).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, Concealment of Exculpatory Evidence by Prosecutors: A Conversation about the Nifong Case (Plenary Session at the ABA Ethics Conference, Boston, Mass., May 29, 2008).
    • Angela J. Davis, Speech, Prosecutorial Power (Charlotte E. Ray Inn of Court, D.C., Jan., 31, 2008).
    • Angela J. Davis, Speech, Race and the Criminal Justice System (Georgetown Day School Martin Luther King Celebration, D.C., Jan. 29, 2008).
    • Angela J. Davis, Speech, 21st Century Challenges to Minority Representation (Mid-Atlantic People of Color Conference, Balt, Md., Jan. 25, 2008).
    • Angela J. Davis, Speech, Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor (Inaugural Meeting of Washington Bar Association Book Club, D.C., Jan. 2008).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, Prosecutorial Misconduct (Criminal Practice Institute Held at the Washington Hilton, D.C., Nov. 17, 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Speech, Keynote Address (Reception for the Abramson Foundation Law Fellows at Busboys and Poets Bookstore, D.C., Nov. 15, 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Lecture, Annual Emeritii Luncheon (American University, D.C., Nov. 12, 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panel Moderator, Plea Bargaining (The American Bar Association Criminal Justice Fall Meeting at George Washington University, D.C., Nov. 2, 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Book Signing, Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor (Congressional Black Caucus Authors Pavilion Book Signing, D.C., Sept. 29, 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Lecture & Book Signing, Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor (Harvard Law School Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Cambridge, Mass., Sept. 19, 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Guest Lecturer, Served on Faculty at Harvard Law School Trial Advocacy Workshop (Cambridge, Mass., Sept 17 - 21, 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, Law Enforcement and the Dangers of Discretion (Northeastern People of Color Conference at Southern New England School of Law, Dartmouth, Mass., Sept. 14, 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Lecture & Book Signing, Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor (The Brennan Center for Justice, New York University Law School, N.Y.C., N.Y., Sept. 12, 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, Reforming the Juvenile Justice System (National Bar Association Annual Conference, Atlanta, Ga., Aug. 2, 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, Beyond Profiling (American Constitution Society Conference, D.C., July 28, 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Presentation, Arbitrary Justice (Lecture at Open Society Institute, D.C., June 14, 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Presentation, Arbitrary Justice (Lecture at Politics and Prose Bookstore, D.C., July, 7 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Keynote Speaker, Arbitrary Justice (Charles Hamilton Houston Law Institute at Georgetown Law Center, D.C., July 6, 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, Panel On Scholarship (AALS New Law Teachers Conference, D.C., June 28 - July 1, 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Debate, Debate with Former U.S. Attorney Roscoe Howard (Washington, D.C. Superior Court, D.C., June 21, 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Speech, Prosecution and Race (Panel on Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice, Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting, Jan. 7, 2006).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panel Chair, Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice: Prosecutorial, Judicial and Defense Perspectives (American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section Fall Meeting, Nov. 4, 2005).
    • Angela J. Davis, Speech, Recognizing and Overcoming Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System (State Bar of California 78th Annual Meeting, Sept. 8, 2005).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, The ABA Justice Kennedy Commission (American Bar Association Annual Meeting, Aug. 7, 2004).
    • Angela J. Davis, Presented paper, Prosecutorial Discretion in the United States (L'egalite devant la justice, University of Paris X-Nanterre, Paris, Fr., Apr. 3, 2004).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, The 40th Anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright (39th Annual Deborah T. Creek Criminal Practice Institute, Nov. 21, 2003).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, Death Penalty (American Constitution Society Annual Meeting, Aug. 2, 2003).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, Juveniles Charged as Adults (NAACP 19th Annual Continuing Legal Education Seminar, July 14, 2003).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panelist, Racial Profiling after September 11th (Northeast People of Color Annual Conference at the University of the West Indies, Barbados, June 15, 2002).
    • Angela J. Davis, Panel, Race and Criminal Justice (Yale Law School, Conference on Race, Values and the American Legal Process Honoring Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, New Haven, Conn., Feb. 22, 2002).
    • Angela J. Davis, Speech, Indigent Defense Systems in the United State (Ritsumeikan University Conference on Crime and Criminal Justice in a Borderless Era, Kyoto, Japan, 1999) (15 Ritsumeikan L. Rev. 33 (1999)).
    • Angela J. Davis, Speech, Keynote Address (Conference on The Rehnquist Court and the American Dilemma, American University Washington College of Law, D.C., Feb. 1996) (45 Am.U. L. Rev. 567 (Feb.1996)).
    • Angela J. Davis, Speech, Conference on the 30th Anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, (American University Washington College of Law, D.C., Fall 1993) (43 Am. U. L. Rev. 1 (Fall 1993)).
  • + Selected Honors & Awards

    • Angela J. Davis, Clyde Ferguson Award, Association of American Law Schools (2010).
    • Angela J. Davis, American University Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Research, Creative Activity, and Other Professional Contributions, (2009).
    • Angela J. Davis, Pauline Ruyle Moore Scholar, Washington College of Law, Awarded for scholarly contribution in the area of public law (2000, 2009).
    • Angela J. Davis, Black Leadership Forum’s Lamplighter Award in the area of Scholarship ( Nov. 3, 2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor, Association of American Publishers 2007 Professional and Scholarly Publishing Award for Excellence in the "Law and Legal Studies" category (2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, New American Community Award, National Council on Crime and Delinquency (2007).
    • Angela J. Davis, Soros Senior Justice Fellow, Awarded by the Soros Foundation to write a book on prosecutorial discretion and power (2003 - 2004).
    • Angela J. Davis, American University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in a Full-Time Appointment, (2002).
    • Angela J. Davis, Morris Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow, Harvard Law School (1993 - 1994).
  • + Selected Media Appearances


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