Charles J. Ogletree, Jr.

Jesse Climenko Professor of Law

Director, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice

Assistant: Jonathan Donais / 617-496-2054

Biography

Charles Ogletree, the Harvard Law School Jesse Climenko Professor of Law, and Founding and Executive Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, is a prominent legal theorist who has made an international reputation by taking a hard look at complex issues of law and by working to secure the rights guaranteed by the Constitution for everyone equally under the law. Professor Ogletree opened the offices of The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice www.charleshamiltonhouston.org in September 2005 as a tribute to the legendary civil rights lawyer and mentor and teacher of such great civil rights lawyers as Thurgood Marshall and Oliver Hill. The Institute has engaged in a wide range of important educational, legal, and policy issues over the past 6 years.

Professor Ogletree is the author of several important books on race and justice. His most recent publication is a book co-edited with Professor Austin Sarat of Amherst College entitled Life without Parole: America's New Death Penalty? (NYU Press, 2012). Other publications include The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Race, Class, and Crime in America (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).In November 2009, NYU Press published Professor Ogletree’s book, co-edited with Professor Austin Sarat, The Road to Abolition: The Future of Capital Punishment in the United States. Also edited with Austin Sarat, When Law Fails: Making Sense of Miscarriages of Justice and From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State: Race and the Death Penalty in America were published by NYU Press in January of 2009 and May of 2006 respectively. His historical memoir, All Deliberate Speed: Reflections on the First Half-Century of Brown v. Board of Education, was published by W.W. Norton & Company in April 2004. Professor Ogletree also co-authored Beyond the Rodney King Story: An Investigation of Police Conduct in Minority Communities (Northeastern University Press 1995).

Professor Ogletree is a native of Merced, California, where he attended public schools. Professor Ogletree earned an M.A. and B.A. (with distinction) in Political Science from Stanford University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa. He also holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

In 2009 Professor Ogletree was awarded the prestigious ABA Spirit of Excellence Award in recognition of his many contributions to the legal profession. In 2008, the National Law Journal named Professor Ogletree one of the 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America. Every year since 2006, Professor Ogletree has been named by Ebony Magazine as one of the 100+ Most Influential Black Americans. He was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame for the National Black Law Students Association, where he served as National President from 1977-1978. Professor Ogletree also received the first ever Rosa Parks Civil Rights Award given by the City of Boston, the Hugo A. Bedau Award given by the Massachusetts Anti-Death Penalty Coalition, and Morehouse College’s Gandhi, King, Ikeda Community Builders Prize. He has also received honorary doctorates from several universities and colleges including Cambridge College, Wilberforce University, the University of Miami, the New England School of Law, Lincoln College, Tougaloo College, Mount Holyoke College, and Amherst College.

Professor Ogletree has been married to his fellow Stanford graduate, Pamela Barnes, since 1975. They are the proud parents of two children, Charles Ogletree III and Rashida Ogletree, and grandparents to granddaughters, Marquelle, Nia Mae, Jamila Ogletree, and Makayla George. The Ogletrees live in Cambridge and are members of St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Areas of Interest

Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. & Kimberly Jenkins, Neglecting the Broken Foundation of K-12 Funding, Educ. Week, May 18, 2016, at 26.
Categories:
Family Law
Sub-Categories:
Education Law
Type: Article
The Enduring Legacy of Rodriguez Creating New Pathways to Equal Educational Opportunity (Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. & Kimberly Jenkins Robinson, eds., Harv. Educ. Press, 2015).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Family Law
Sub-Categories:
Discrimination
,
Law & Social Change
,
Education Law
Type: Book
Abstract
Ogletree, Robinson, and their expert cowriters offer hope that this decision can be reversed or that other ways can be found to counter its ill effects. This book is a thoughtful and overdue contribution to improving schools.
Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. & David J. Harris, Op-Ed: High Court Must Undo Clear Case of Juror Racism, Nat'l L.J., Sept. 24, 2015.
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Criminal Law & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Criminal Defense
,
Criminal Prosecution
,
Judges & Jurisprudence
,
Courts
Type: News
Punishment in Popular Culture (Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. & Austin Sarat eds., N.Y.U. Press, 2015).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
,
Criminal Law & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Sentencing & Punishment
,
Law & Social Change
Type: Book
Abstract
This book brings together distinguished scholars of punishment and experts in media studies in an unusual juxtaposition of disciplines and perspectives.
A New Juvenile Justice System Total Reform for a Broken System (Nancy E. Dowd & Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. eds., N.Y.U. Press, 2015).
Categories:
Family Law
,
Criminal Law & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement
,
Children's Law & Welfare
Type: Book
Abstract
Providing the principles, goals, and concrete means to achieve them, this volume imagines using our resources wisely and well to invest in all children and their potential to contribute and thrive in our society.
Life Without Parole: America's New Death Penalty? (Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. & Austin Sarat eds., N.Y.U. Press, 2012). (Charles Hamilton Houston Series on Race and Justice)
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Sentencing & Punishment
,
Capital Punishment
Type: Book
Abstract
Is life without parole the perfect compromise to the death penalty? Or is it as ethically fraught as capital punishment?
Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Robert J. Smith & Johanna Wald, Criminal Law: Coloring Punishment: Implicit Social Cognition and Criminal Justice, in Implicit Racial Bias Across the Law 45 (Justin D. Levinson & Roger J. Smith eds., Cambridge Univ. Press, 2012).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement
,
Sentencing & Punishment
,
Race & Ethnicity
Type: Book
Abstract
Despite cultural progress in reducing overt acts of racism, stark racial disparities continue to define American life. This book is for anyone who wonders why race still matters and is interested in what emerging social science can contribute to the discussion. The book explores how scientific evidence on the human mind might help to explain why racial equality is so elusive. This new evidence reveals how human mental machinery can be skewed by lurking stereotypes, often bending to accommodate hidden biases reinforced by years of social learning. Through the lens of these powerful and pervasive implicit racial attitudes and stereotypes, Implicit Racial Bias Across the Law examines both the continued subordination of historically disadvantaged groups and the legal system's complicity in the subordination.
Charles J. Ogletree, The Presumption of Guilt The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Race, Class and Crime in America (Palgrave Macmillan 2010).
Categories:
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Criminal Law & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Civil Rights
,
Discrimination
,
Race & Ethnicity
Type: Book
Abstract
Charles Ogletree, one of the country's foremost experts on civil rights, uses this incident as a lens through which to explore issues of race, class, and crime, with the goal of creating a more just legal system for all.
The Road to Abolition? The Future of Capital Punishment in the United States (Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. & Austin Sarat eds., N.Y.U. Press, 2009). (Charles Hamilton Houston Institute Series on Race and Justice)
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Capital Punishment
,
Sentencing & Punishment
Type: Book
When Law Fails Making Sense of Miscarriages of Justice (Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. & Austin Sarat, N.Y.U. Press, 2009). (Charles Hamilton Houston Institute Series on Race and Justice)
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
,
Criminal Law & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Law & Social Change
,
Critical Legal Studies
,
Judges & Jurisprudence
Type: Book
Abstract
Are there ways of reconceptualizing legal missteps that are particularly useful or illuminating? These instructive essays both address the questions and point the way toward further discussion.
Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., From Dred Scott to Barack Obama: The Ebb and Flow of Race Jurisprudence, 25 Harv. BlackLetter L.J. 1 (2009).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Race & Ethnicity
,
Critical Legal Studies
,
Law & Social Change
Type: Article
Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., From Little Rock to Seattle and Louisville: Is “All Deliberate Speed” Stuck in Reverse? 30 U. Ark. Little Rock L. Rev. 279 (2008).
Categories:
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
,
Family Law
Sub-Categories:
Discrimination
,
Law & Social Change
,
Education Law
Type: Article
From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State: Race and the Death Penalty in America (Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. & Austin Sarat eds., New York Univ. Press 2006). (Charles Hamilton Houston Institute Series on Race and Justice)
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Capital Punishment
,
Race & Ethnicity
Type: Book
Abstract
Since 1976, over forty percent of prisoners executed in American jails have been African American or Hispanic. This trend shows little evidence of diminishing, and follows a larger pattern of the violent criminalization of African American populations that has marked the country's history of punishment. In a bold attempt to tackle the looming question of how and why the connection between race and the death penalty has been so strong throughout American history, Ogletree and Sarat headline an interdisciplinary cast of experts in reflecting on this disturbing issue. Insightful original essays approach the topic from legal, historical, cultural, and social science perspectives to show the ways that the death penalty is racialized, the places in the death penalty process where race makes a difference, and the ways that meanings of race in the United States are constructed in and through our practices of capital punishment. From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State not only uncovers the ways that race influences capital punishment, but also attempts to situate the linkage between race and the death penalty in the history of this country, in particular the history of lynching. In its probing examination of how and why the connection between race and the death penalty has been so strong throughout American history, this book forces us to consider how the death penalty gives meaning to race as well as why the racialization of the death penalty is uniquely American.
Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., All Deliberate Speed: Reflections on the First Half-Century of Brown v. Board of Education (W.W. Norton 2005).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Family Law
Sub-Categories:
Race & Ethnicity
,
Education Law
,
Legal History
Type: Book
Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., In Memoriam: Archibald Cox, 118 Harv. L. Rev. 14 (2004).
Categories:
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Biography & Tribute
Type: Article
Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., The Significance of Brown, 88 Judicature 66 (2004).
Categories:
Constitutional Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Race & Ethnicity
,
Civil Rights
Type: Article
Brown at 50: The Unfinished Legacy: A Collection of Essays (Deborah L. Rhode & Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. eds., A.B.A. 2004).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Legal Profession
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Race & Ethnicity
,
Supreme Court of the United States
,
Legal History
Type: Book
Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Repairing the Past: New Efforts in the Reparations Debate in America, 38 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 279 (2003).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Race & Ethnicity
,
Legal History
Type: Article
Abstract
This article attempts to explain why the asserted distinctions between various types of reparations lawsuits are overstated. The reparations debate, in the U.S. and globally, has gained momentum in recent years, and it will only grow in significance over time. The claim that the U.S. owes a debt for the enslavement and segregation of African Americans has had historical currency for over 150 years. Occasionally, the call for repayment of the debt for slavery has reached a fever pitch, particularly in the post-Civil War period. The demand for reparations has coincided with other civil rights strategies, reaching a national stage during the resolute leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The reparations movement has experienced ebbs and flows through periods of both forceful repression and abject depression. Today, in the U.S. and worldwide, we again face one of those historically significant moments when the momentum for reparations efforts rises and arguments that seemed morally and legally unfeasible reemerge with renewed political vigor and legal vitality. The number of reparations lawsuits and legislative initiatives at the local and state level is unprecedented. A variety of lawsuits are currently on file in various state and federal courts around the country. Focusing solely on reparations for African Americans, suits are on file in Illinois, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Louisiana, California and Oklahoma. Legislation abounds as well. States and municipalities have passed at least four statutes addressing reparations for African Americans, most notably in Rosewood, Florida, but also in California, Oklahoma and Chicago, Illinois. These legal and legislative initiatives raise complementary, and in some cases, conflicting issues. But it cannot be denied that there is a vital and compelling need for African American reparations.
Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Judicial Activism or Judicial Necessity: The DC District Court's Criminal Justice Legacy, 90 Geo. L.J. 685 (2002).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement
,
Courts
,
Judges & Jurisprudence
,
State & Local Government
Type: Article
Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., The Rehnquist Revolution in Criminal Procedure, in The Rehnquist Court (Herman Schwartz ed., 2002).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Supreme Court of the United States
Type: Book
Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr.: A Reciprocal Legacy of Scholarship and Advocacy, 53 Rutgers. L. Rev. 665 (2001).
Categories:
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Biography & Tribute
Type: Article
Abstract
In his seventy years on this earth, Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., accomplished more than most could even imagine accomplishing in 170 years. His advocacy and scholarship spanned his entire lifetime, and he has left us a treasure trove of brilliant ideas, incredible accomplishments, and unprecedented challenges for the twenty-first century. His advocacy started at a very young age, engendered by working-class parents, who invested their only child with a sense of honor, integrity, and pride in being African American. It continued in his teen years, when he began to see the pervasive power of racism, in America and abroad, and made a commitment to use his considerable gifts to fight racism wherever it raised its ugly head. His advocacy continued during his adult years, as he found problems of even greater magnitude, and used his role as judge, statesman, teacher, and scholar to expose the evil of racism in every venue where it existed. It continues even today, as the prescient proclamations found in his writings and speeches remind us never to give up the fight for racial justice. It is also embodied in the advocacy and scholarship of thousands of devoted "Higginbotham Warriors," who continue his legacy by fighting the kinds of battles he fought so valiantly for seventy years. We can never be as great as he was, but we can further his dreams by fighting the never-ending struggle for racial justice in courtrooms, classrooms, legal journals, public forums, and even private ...
Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., A Tribute to Gary Bellow: The Visionary Clinical Scholar, 114 Harv. L. Rev. 421 (2000).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Public Interest Law
,
Biography & Tribute
,
Clinical Legal Education
Type: Article
Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Judge A. Leon Higginbotham's Civil Rights Legacy, 34 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 1 (1999).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Civil Rights
,
Race & Ethnicity
,
Biography & Tribute
Type: Article
Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., In Memoriam: A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., 112 Harv. L. Rev. 1801 (1999).
Categories:
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Biography & Tribute
Type: Article
Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., The Incomparable Thurgood Marshall, 85 A.B.A. J. Feb. 1999, at 81 (reviewing Juan Williams, Eyes on the Prize (1987) & Howard Ball, A Defiant Life: Thurgood Marshall and the Persistence of Racism in America (1999)).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Civil Rights
,
Race & Ethnicity
,
Biography & Tribute
Type: Article
Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Mary Prosser, Abbe Smith & William Talley, Jr., Beyond the Rodney King Story: An Investigation of Police Conduct in Minority Communities (Northeastern Univ. Press, 1995). (Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
Categories:
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement
,
Discrimination
,
Race & Ethnicity
,
Civil Rights
,
Law & Social Change
Type: Book
Charles J. Ogletree, Beyond Justifications: Seeking Motivations to Sustain Public Defenders, 106 Harv. L. Rev. 1239 (1993).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Criminal Defense
,
Public Interest Law
,
Legal Education
Type: Article
Abstract
Most scholarship on the professional role of the criminal defense attorney focuses on a search for the appropriate philosophical or moral justifications for the attorney's zealous advocacy. In this Article, Professor Ogletree argues that this focus is misplaced. Nearly all lawyers and legal scholars agree that the criminal defense lawyer's role is justified and that public defenders are necessary to the constitutional and moral legitimacy of the criminal justice system. However, because little attention has been paid to developing techniques that will motivate people to become and remain public defenders, many public defenders "burn out." The result is that conduct most lawyers believe is both justified and necessary fails to occur. Professor Ogletree argues that legal scholars should move beyond abstract justifications of criminal defense work and should instead explore and develop motivations for lawyers to represent the indigent. Drawing on his personal experiences as a public defender, he identifies two factors - empathy and heroism - that motivated him to continue in the face of a tragedy that shook his faith in the system. Professor Ogletree argues that public defender organizations can promote these values by drawing on the example of the District of Columbia Public Defender Service, which promotes an ethos within the office that sustains public defenders' commitment to clients. In addition, he argues that law schools should employ clinical teaching techniques that foster these motivations.
Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., The Challenge of Achieving Racial Justice in the New Millennium, in Law and the Quest for Justice (Marjorie S. Zatz, Doris Marie Provine & James P. Walsh eds., 2013).
Categories:
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Civil Rights
,
Race & Ethnicity
,
Discrimination
,
Law & Social Change
Type: Book
Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., The Challenge of Race and Education, in How to Make Black America Better: Leading African Americans speak out (Tavis Smiley ed., 2001).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Family Law
Sub-Categories:
Race & Ethnicity
,
Law & Social Change
,
Education Law
Type: Book

Assistant: Jonathan Donais / 617-496-2054