Barbara O'Brien

Professor of Law

Law College Building
648 N. Shaw Lane Rm 411
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300

Barbara O’Brien is a professor at the Michigan State University College of Law, where she teaches classes in criminal law and procedure. She is currently the Editor of the National Registry of Exonerations, which “collects, analyzes and disseminates information about all known exonerations of innocent criminal defendants in the United States, from 1989 to the present.” The Registry provides a virtual home for exoneration stories and also an accessible, searchable statistical database about the cases.

Professor O’Brien’s scholarship applies empirical methodology to legal issues, such as identifying predictors of false convictions and understanding prosecutorial decision-making. Her most recent work examines the persistent role of race in jury selection and in charging and sentencing decisions relating to capital punishment. An ongoing National Science Foundation project with Professor Catherine Grosso applies conversation analysis to assess ways in which race influences voir dire in capital cases.

Professor O’Brien received her Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Bowdoin College, a J.D. from the University of Colorado, and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan.

Download Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Ph.D. University of Michigan
J.D. University of Colorado
B.A. Bowdoin College