Ronald S. Sullivan Jr.

Clinical Professor of Law

Director, Criminal Justice Institute

Biography

Professor Sullivan is a leading theorist in the areas of criminal law, criminal procedure, trial practice and techniques, legal ethics, and race theory.  He is the faculty director of the Harvard Criminal Justice Institute and the Harvard Trial Advocacy Workshop.  Professor Sullivan also serves as Master of Winthrop House at Harvard College.  He is the first African American ever appointed Master in Harvard's history.  He is a founding member and Senior Fellow of the Jamestown Project.

Professor Sullivan has merged legal theory and practice over the course of his career in unique and cutting-edge ways.

In 2014, Professor Sullivan was tasked to design and implement a Conviction Review Unit (“CRU”) for the newly elected Brooklyn District Attorney.  The CRU, designed to identify and exonerate wrongfully convicted persons, quickly became regarded as the model conviction integrity program in the nation.  In its first year of operation alone, Professor Sullivan discovered over 10 wrongful convictions, which the DA ultimately vacated.  Some of the exonerated citizens had served more than 30 years in prison before they were released.

In 2008, Professor Sullivan served as Chair, Criminal Justice Advisory Committee for then-Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.  In this capacity, Professor Sullivan’s committee made policy recommendations on a range of issues in an effort to put into practice some of the best research in the field.  He also served as a member of the National Legal Advisory Group for the Barack Obama Presidential Campaign.  Finally, Professor Sullivan was appointed Advisor to the Department of Justice Presidential Transition Team.

In 2007, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Professor Sullivan was asked to create a system to solve a criminal justice crisis.  Over 6000 citizens were incarcerated in and around New Orleans without representation and with all official records destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.  Professor Sullivan designed an indigent defense delivery system that resulted in the release of nearly all the 6000 inmates.

In 1994, Professor Sullivan was a visiting scholar for the Law Society of Kenya, where he sat on a committee charged with drafting a new constitution for Kenya.  He also worked with the Kenyan Human Rights Commission on monitoring and challenging human rights abuses.

Prior to joining Harvard’s faculty, Professor Sullivan was on the Yale Law School faculty where he won the award for outstanding teaching after his first year.  Before joining the legal academy, he served as the Director of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia.  He also spent several years in private practice in two major Washington, D.C. law firms where he specialized in white-collar criminal defense and complex commercial litigation.

Professor Sullivan still maintains an appellate and trial practice.  He has represented persons ranging from politicians to professional athletes to recording artists to pro bono clients in criminal jeopardy.  Representative clients include: The family of Michael Brown; Former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez; The family of Usaamah Rahim. 

Professor Sullivan has provided legal commentary for CNN, FoxNews, PBS, and all the major networks.  He has been quoted in the nation’s leading newspapers and periodicals, and he has testified before the United States Senate and House of Representatives on numerous occasions.

Professor Sullivan is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College and the Harvard Law School, where he served as President of the Harvard Black Law Students Association and as General Editor of the Harvard BlackLetter Law Journal.

Areas of Interest

Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr., A Black Kagan Recruit Makes the Case for Confirmation, Harv. L. Today (Apr. 29, 2010).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Judges & Jurisprudence
,
Courts
,
Supreme Court of the United States
Type: Other
Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr., Classical Racialism, Justice Story, and Margaret Morgan's Journey from Freedom to Slavery: The Story of Prigg v. Pennsylvania, in Race Law Stories 59 (Rachel F. Moran & Devon Wayne Carbado eds., 2008).
Categories:
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Civil Rights
,
Race & Ethnicity
,
Discrimination
,
Law & Social Change
Type: Book
Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr. & Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., Opinion, Rethinking the NAACP, Wash. Post, Mar. 21, 2007, at A15.
Categories:
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Race & Ethnicity
Type: News
Ronald S. Sullivan & Heather MacDonald, Should Law Schools Abandon Clinics?, Legal Aff. Debate Club (Jan. 30, 2006).
Categories:
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Legal Education
,
Clinical Legal Education
Type: Other
Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr. & David J. Carroll, Perspectives of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association: An Overview of the Failure of State Governments to Effectively Execute Constitutionally Mandated Indigent Defense Services, in The State of Criminal Justice 2006 (A.B.A. 2006).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement
Type: Book
Paul C. Taylor, Stephanie Robinson, Eddie S. Glaude & Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr., While Democracy Sleeps: A White Paper on Democratic Citizenship in the United States (Jamestown Project, Yale Univ. 2005).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Law & Social Change
,
Law & Political Theory
,
Politics & Political Theory
Type: Other
Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr., Letter to the Editor, When Eyewitnesses Err, Wash. Post., Apr. 21, 2003, at A22.
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement
,
Criminal Evidence
,
Criminal Prosecution
Type: News
Judge Karen Freeman-Wilson, Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr. & Susan P. Weinstein, Critical Issues for Defense Attorneys in Drug Court (Nat'' Drug Ct. Inst. 2003).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Criminal Defense
,
Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement
Type: Other
Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr., Multiple Ironies: Brown at 50, 47 How. L.J. 29 (2003).
Categories:
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Constitutional Law
Sub-Categories:
Discrimination
,
Civil Rights
,
Race & Ethnicity
Type: Article
Abstract
Brown v. Board of Education occupies a vaunted space in American jurisprudence. One commentator writes that Brown is the most celebrated case in the Court's history. Equally laudatory, another commentator remarks: "In the half century since the Supreme Court's decision, Brown has become a beloved legal and political icon." A third proclaims that, "Brown forever changed the role of the United States Supreme Court in American politics and society." To the lay public, Brown sits among a small pantheon of cases that is widely recognizable to the average American.' Miranda and Roe v. Wade likely are the only others with equal or greater name recognition. To many, Brown represents the high point of the Civil Rights movement in America. On this account, Brown symbolizes an aggressive and affirmative attack on the effects of white supremacy in a Jim Crow America and is the doctrinal and normative progenitor of affirmative action and similar state-sanctioned, race-based, remedial programs. To others, who hold Brown in equally high regard, it signifies a colorblind America where one is not judged by race or ethnicity, but by the content of one's character. Brown is considered an iconic case among various (often divergent) ideological viewpoints.
Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr. & Jeffrey Berman, Emergency Room Triage: A Review of "Real Justice," FRONTLINE (2000).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement
,
Criminal Defense
Type: Other
Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr. & Eddie S. Glaude, "Marchin' On": Towards a Politics for the Twenty-First Century, in Black Men on Race, Gender, and Sexuality: A Critical Reader (Devon Carbado ed., 1999).
Categories:
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Gender & Sexuality
,
Discrimination
,
Civil Rights
,
Race & Ethnicity
,
Law & Social Change
Type: Book
Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr., Note, A License to Search: The Plain Feel Exception under Minnesota v. Dickerson, 113 S.Ct. 2130 (1993), 11 Harv. BlackLetter L.J. 181 (1994).
Categories:
Constitutional Law
,
Criminal Law & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Fourth Amendment
Type: Article

Board Memberships

Current Courses

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