Barbara O'Brien

Barbara O'BrienProfessor of Law
Law College Building
648 N. Shaw Lane Rm 420
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300

  • Biography

    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.

  • Degrees

    Ph.D. 2007, University of Michigan; J.D. 1996, Order of the Coif, University of Colorado School of Law; B.A. 1993, cum laude, Bowdoin College

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Courses

    Criminal Law
    (Formerly DCL 131) An examination of the criminal justice system, including emphasis on the role of defense counsel and prosecutor; the adversary system; ethical considerations; sources and aims of the criminal law and construction of criminal statutes; specific crimes against person, property and the state; inchoate crimes; defenses negating culpability; and the principles of responsibility and justification.

    Criminal Procedure: Adjudication
    (Formerly Criminal Procedure II) This course examines various issues associated with criminal adjudications with a focus on federal constitutional rights. The course covers issues such as the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, bail and pretrial detention, discovery, the plea bargaining process, speedy trial rights, federal sentencing guidelines, and post-conviction review. Students can take Criminal Procedure: Adjudication and Criminal Procedure: Investigation in any order or at the same time. Students who have taken Criminal Procedure II are ineligible to enroll in this course.

  • Bar Admission(s)

    Illinois (inactive)