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Josephine Ross

  • Clinical Law Center, School of Law
  • Faculty, Law Department
  • Faculty, Law Department


Professor of Law

J.D., Boston University School of Law

B.A., Oberlin College


Professor Ross currently teaches Criminal Procedure, Evidence, and a Seminar where students explore current topics in policing and punishment. In the Fall of 2020, she co-created a new course, the Reentry Clinic, which focuses on the harms of mass incarceration, including the collateral consequences of arrests.

For over a decade, Professor Ross co-taught Howard’s Criminal Justice Clinic where she supervised students who represented clients charged with misdemeanors in D.C. Superior Court. She then launched a legislative clinic where students worked with the Justice Roundtable and ACLU on sentencing reform and other projects. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina pounded New Orleans, she began planning a trip to that city for students to engage in legal work, that became an annual Alternative Spring Break in New Orleans. She has taught her Seminar as a course on the TV show The Wire, in which students write papers that connect to a character or episodes from the show.

In her book, A Feminist Critique of Police Stops (Cambridge University Press, 2021), Professor Ross builds on her expertise in Constitutional Criminal Procedure and her work with Howard Law students, especially the years when her clinical students joined her to teach Know Your Rights at Youth Court, a diversion program for teenagers who were arrested for petty crimes. The book includes stories from Howard law students as well as from Youth Court and famous examples of aggressive policing such as Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, and the less famous, such as the woman whose rape complaint changed the New York City law on consent defenses for on-duty officers.

She has written seventeen law review articles and given dozens of talks across the country and abroad. Before gay marriage was recognized in any U.S. state, Professor Ross published some of the first law review articles on the subject, helping to lay the philosophical groundwork for change.

A Feminist Critique of Police Stops builds on several of Professor Ross’s published articles, including, “What the #MeToo Campaign Teaches About Stop & Frisk,” in the the IDAHO LAW REVIEW 543, and “Blaming the Victim: ‘Consent’ Within the Fourth Amendment and Rape Law,” the lead article in the Harvard Journal of Racial and Ethnic Justice. The book (paperback, hardcover or ebook) can be purchased at local bookstores such as Politics and Prose, on Amazon. Librarians can purchase the book through Cambridge Core.

In her early career, Ross served as a public defender in Massachusetts where she represented clients charged with misdemeanors and serious felonies. She began her academic career at Boston College Law School, and she’s visited at Michigan State University. She taught International Criminal Law at the University of the Western Cape through the Howard’s South Africa Program. She was a fellow at the Birkbeck College School of Law at the University of London, England.

Selected Publications

Josephine Ross’s Scholarly Papers-SSRN 

What the #MeToo Campaign Teaches About Stop & Frisk, Idaho Law Review (forthcoming 2018). 

Warning: Stop and Frisk May Be Hazardous To Your Health, 25 William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 689 (2016). 

Cops on Trial: Did Fourth Amendment Case Law Help George Zimmerman’s Claim of Self-Defense?  40 Seattle Law Review 1 (2016). 

Can Social Science Defeat a Legal Fiction? Challenging Unlawful Police Stops Under the Fourth Amendment, 18 Washington & Lee Journal of Civil rights and Social Justice 315 (2012). 

Blaming The Victim: ‘Consent’ Within The Fourth Amendment And Rape Law, 26 Harvard Journal of Racial and Ethnic Justice 1 (2010) 

After Crawford Double-Speak: “Testimony” Does Not Mean Testimony And “Witness” Does Not Mean Witness, Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology (2006). 

 “He Looks Guilty”: Reforming Good Character Evidence to Undercut the Presumption Of Guilt, 65 Pittsburgh Law Review 227 (2004). 

The Sexualization Of Difference: A Comparison of Mixed-Race And Same-Gender Marriage, 37 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 255 (2002) 

Autonomy Versus A Client’s Best Interest: The Defense Lawyer’s Dilemma When Mentally Ill Clients Seek to Control Their Defense, 35 American Criminal Law Review 1343 (1998).