Legal Studies Consortium

Faculty with Interest in the Law

Many students at Reed focus their studies on issues related to law. In support of this interest, Reed offers courses in several departments that are directly tied to civil or criminal law. In addition, students interested in this domain often do thesis projects focused on legal or constitutional issues, or policy issues involving the law. Many of these students apply to law school after Reed.

Reed does not have a legal studies program (and, if you’re thinking about law school, many schools like their applicants to have a background broader than what they might get in a formally-defined "pre-law" program). Nonetheless, many faculty are experts in and do research on some aspect of the law, or closely-related issues involving policy or social justice. Here is a list of some of the relevant faculty. At the bottom of the page, you'll also find a listing of upcoming events that may be of interest, and also links to other resources on campus.


Kris Anderson, Psychology Department

Professional focus: My lab, the Adolescent Health Research Program, investigates the mechanisms underlying alcohol and drug use initiation, escalation, and the development of substance use disorders from childhood to young adulthood. We develop new methodologies to understand in the moment decisions of youth to engage in risk taking and substance use within peer contexts and actively collaborate with prevention and intervention specialists to design, implement, and assess substance use programs for youth. Our work has implications for juvenile justice and models of youth delinquency.

Relevant Courses: Psychopathology; Addiction

Michael Breen, History Department

Professional focus: A specialist in early modern French & European history, I study the development of the legal professions and the central roles lawyers and jurists played in transforming politics, culture, and society between the late Middle Ages and the French Revolution. At the same time, I am also interested in the evolution of the law as a set of social, cultural, and institutional practices that were shaped not only by trained legal professionals, but also by the increasing numbers of ordinary men and women who utilized the law in their day-to-day lives, whether through litigation, participation in court proceedings, or increased usage of notarial records. My first book, Law, City, and King: Legal Culture, Municipal Politics, and State Formation in Early Modern Dijon (University of Rochester Press, 2007) examined how the barristers (avocats) of a French provincial capital used their legal expertise and social status to establish themselves as valuable intermediaries between the local populace and the monarchy and the ways in which this relationship changed with the expansion of the French royal state. My current project, Law and Society in Medieval & Early Modern Europe, examines how and why "the rule of law" emerged in medieval Europe and came to be a foundation of the European social order, rivaling and even surpassing the importance of religion. Finally, I am also studying the controversies surrounding a medico-legal procedure used by French Church courts to adjudicate marital annulment lawsuits during the sixteenth and seventeenth century and the larger implications of these debates for the legal culture of the period.

Relevant Courses: Legalizing Europe: Church, State, Society & "The Rule of Law," 1200-1600; Heretics, Witches, and Inquisitors, Deviance, Orthodoxy, and the Law in Medieval & Early Modern Europe; Law & Society in Medieval & Early Modern Europe (History Jr. Seminar)

Michael Carpentier, Anthropology Department

Professional focus: My research in legal anthropology focuses on the way in which people understand and try to negotiate the conditions of their legality (conditions like citizenship, sovereignty, or criminality), conditions often imposed aggressively by a disembodied authoritative set of doctrines. Most of my research is done in the context of native north America. I am also interested in the ways that law is 'enforced;' the increasing militarization of domestic law enforcement; issues of territoriality; and the ways people understand their relationships to these phenomena.

Relevant course: Legal Anthropology

Paul Gronke, Political Science Department

Professional focus: Gronke studies American politics, elections, public opinion, and research methods. His interest in the law stems from his work as the director of the Early Voting Information Center (, a non-partisan scholarly research and policy advisory center situated at Reed that works to determine best practices for no-excuse and early in-person voting. While he does not teach a course specifically focused on the law, he does have content about election law--voting rights, minority representation, redistricting, and election formula--in some classes. Gronke also serves as the editor of the Election Law Journal (also housed at Reed), the only interdisciplinary journal dedicated to scholarship on election law, policy, and practice.

Relevant courses: Elections, American Style; U.S. Congress

Stefan Kapsch, Emeritus, Political Science Department

Professional focus: policy analysis with a substantive focus on criminal justice.  I have had various roles on numerous projects including drafting the research section of the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Act of 1967 as a member 0f the Program Evaluation Staff of the U.S. Bureau of the Budget, subsequently enacted as the Safe Streets and Crime C0ntrol Act of 1968.  I participated in the formulation of the first state plan under the Safe Streets Act as a consultant to the Minnesota State Planning Agency.  In Oregon, I was the Research Director for the Oregon Commission on the Judicial Branch, which engineered the largest restructuring of the Oregon court system in state history.  I was Executive Director of the Oregon Prison Overcrowding Project (OPOP), which was funded by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and the National Institute of Corrections.  I was also a consultant to the Oregon Jail Overcrowding Project, an offshoot of OPOP, also funded by Clark and NIC.  Much 0f my work has involved Reed students.  A group of my students and I conducted an effectiveness evaluation of a therapeutic community drug treatment program for Multnomah County felons.  Another student and I evaluated a Multnomah County program of drug testing of pretrial releases also in Multnomah County, funded by the National Institute of Corrections.  Another team studied a Portland automobile forfeiture program for DUII’s (published under Ian Crosby).  My last project was on youth gun violence in Portland (The Portland STACS Project) where I served as Research Director, also funded by the National Institute of Justice.

I’ve had two Senior Fulbright appointments, one to the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia and the other to the Amerika Institute of Ludvig Maxmillians University in Munich, Germany.  As an offshoot of the Slovenia Fulbright, I was a principle in organizing a biennial conference (1996-2004) on “Democratic Policing in Central and Eastern Europe” aimed at modernizing and democratizing the police of former communist countries.  In 2003, I organized a symposium on German and American criminal justice funded by the American and German Fulbright Commissions and the U.S. Consulate in Munich.  The proceedings were published in a book co-edited with Manfred Berg and Franz Streng, titled “Criminal Justice in the United States and Germany: History, Modernization and Reform.”

Relevant Course: Constitutional Law and Judicial Politics

Chris Koski, Political Science Department

Professional focus: My work focuses on the formation of policy agendas, the choice of tools of regulation, and the implementation of public law and policy. My previous research relevant to law has specifically focused on the content of water quality regulations at the state level, public ordinances concerning green building at the state and municipal level, and climate action plan characteristics at the municipal level. At the federal level, my current research seeks to understand the influence of comments on environmental rule making.  

Relevant course: Environmental Politics and Policy

John Kroger, President

Professional focus: Before coming to Reed, Oregon's Attorney General from 2009 to 2012. Also Chair of Oregon Alcohol & Drug Policy Commission, 2009-2012; Lewis & Clark Law School, 2002-2012; Department of Justice Enron Task Force, 2002-2003; US Attorney's Office, 1997-2001.

Noelwah R. Netusil, Economics Department

Professional focus: My research focuses on using statistical techniques to value environmental characteristics. Past work has focused on valuing water rights, the effect of environmental zoning laws on property values, and how water quality affects property values. My current research examines various aspects of green infrastructure and low-impact development. I serve on non-profit and government agency advisory boards in addition to being a participant in several cross-institutional research groups.

Relevant Course: Law and Economics

Daniel Reisberg, Psychology Department

Professional focus: I work on how crime victims and witnesses perceive events and then remember what they have seen. From this base, I consult widely with the justice system, and testify (usually in criminal cases) 8-10 times each year. My testimony covers diverse topics, including eyewitness identification, earwitness memory, proper procedures for finding out what a child remembers (and so I often participate in trials alleging child abuse), and also proper interrogation procedures with suspects (and so I sometimes participate in trials in which the defense asserts that a confession is false).

Relevant Courses: Cognitive Processes; Psychology and the Courts

Darius Rejali, Political Science Department

Professional focus: I work on government torture and interrogation, and specifically, on the causes, consequences and meaning of modern torture. From this base, I consult as an expert for various international scholarly projects on torture prevention and serve as an adviser to nongovernmental organizations that work on torture related issues. I have also submitted expert testimony in a Guantanamo related case (Al Ginco v. Obama) and Abu Ghraib related case (Al Shimari v. CACI International)

Relevant Course: Torture Prevention

Marc Schneiberg, Sociology Department

Professional focus: I work on political and economic responses to corporations in American capitalism, including regulation, self-regulation and the evolution of governance arrangements. My research is both quantitative and qualitative and draws on institutional analysis, a body of work deeply concerned with the emergence, enforcement and effects on organizations of legal and other rules.

Relevant Courses: Regulation; Institutional Analysis

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In 2014-15, Reed’s PRPL Division will proudly present Dr. Saul Kassin, one of the country’s leading experts on interrogation techniques, confession evidence, and the risk of false confession. Dr. Kassin’s visit is co-sponsored by Reed College and the newly-opened Portland office of the Innocence Project. The visit will be March 17-18, 2015, but if you’d like information now about Dr. Kassin, here’s his web site:

In Spring 2015, the Department of Political Science will focus its Spring Public Policy Lecture Series (PPLS) on Torture Prevention. The inaugural speaker of the series will be UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez. Mr. Mendez will has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights and he has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. He will speak on February 19th in Vollum Lecture Hall in the evening. Time TBA. site:

The second PPLS speaker will be Andrew Jefferson, Senior Researcher at Dignity (Danish Institute Against Torture) in Copenhagen. Dr. Jefferson is an expert on state and non-state practices of detention. While many experts focus on US prisons, there are very few who are qualified to speak with authority on demential facilities outside the US. Dr. Jefferson is a leading expert in non-American prisons, specializing in detention in Africa and, to some extent, Asia. He will speak March 16th in Vollum Lecture Hall. Time TBA. For more information, contact Jolie Griffin at ext 5075 or