Anna Lvovsky

Assistant Professor of Law

Griswold 404

617-496-4253

Assistant: Susan Smith / 617-496-2028

Biography

Anna Lvovsky is an Assistant Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where she teaches American legal history, the history of policing, criminal law, and evidence. Professor Lvovsky’s scholarship focuses on the legal and cultural dimensions of policing, judicial uses of professional knowledge, and the regulation of gender, sexuality, and morality. Her recent work examines judicial deference to police expertise and the role of moral judgment in the Supreme Court’s Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.

Professor Lvovsky’s book project, Queer Expertise: Urban Policing and the Discovery of the Gay World, 1920-1970, under contract with the University of Chicago Press, examines how the police drew on a combination of scientific expertise and lay stereotype about homosexuality to shape the legal status of gay men in the United States. As a dissertation, the project received the 2016 Julien Mezey Dissertation Award from the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities.

Prior to joining HLS, Professor Lvovsky was an Academic Fellow at Columbia Law School. She clerked for Judge Michael Boudin of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and for Judge Gerard E. Lynch of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Professor Lvovsky graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where she was articles co-chair of the Harvard Law Review and the recipient of the LGBTQ Writing Prize, and received her Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization from Harvard University. She earned a B.A. summa cum laude from Yale College.

Anna Lvovsky, Fourth Amendment Moralism, 166 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1189 (2018).
Categories:
Constitutional Law
,
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Fourth Amendment
,
Constitutional History
,
Supreme Court of the United States
,
Judges & Jurisprudence
Type: Article
Abstract
The Fourth Amendment is generally seen as a procedural provision blind to a defendant’s conduct in a given case, distinguished on that very ground from the Supreme Court’s frequently moralistic assessment of conduct in its due process privacy caselaw. Yet ever since the Court recentered Fourth Amendment protections around an individual’s reasonable expectations of privacy, it has consistently tied those protections to the nature and, specifically, the social value of the activities involved. As in its substantive due process cases, the Court frequently allots Fourth Amendment privacy interests based on its moral evaluation of private acts, privileging conventional social goods like domesticity, romantic relations, and meaningful emotional bonds. And in some cases—most notably those involving aerial surveillance, home visitors, and drug testing—the Court has adopted an expressly retrospective analysis, tying Fourth Amendment rights to a defendant’s actual conduct at the time of a search. This unrecognized strain of moralism in the Fourth Amendment is a troubling development, unmoored from the Amendment’s text, hostile to its well-documented history, and obstructive of its practical operation in regulating police abuses. Not least, that moralistic approach upends prevailing understandings of privacy, as a refuge from the pressures and expectations of society. Especially in the electronic age, as digital technologies vastly expand the police’s ability to parse categories of private data, the Court must cabin its moralistic turn, restoring a richer view of Fourth Amendment values as encompassing individualistic and unorthodox pursuits. This Article identifies two immediate steps for moving forward: renouncing the Court’s privileging of “intimate” over impersonal conduct and reconsidering the controversial binary-search doctrine gleaned from the Court’s drug-testing cases. More fundamentally, it joins an ongoing debate about the adequacy of the Court’s privacy-based Fourth Amendment framework, suggesting both the importance and the difficulty of restoring a Fourth Amendment attuned to liberal values of individualism and moral autonomy. Finally, this Article addresses what the surprising rise of Fourth Amendment moralism suggests about constitutional privacy rights more broadly. Belying the value of privacy as a sanctuary from social judgment, the Court’s persistently moralistic jurisprudence challenges the extent to which our Constitution has ever protected, and perhaps can ever protect, a robust right of “privacy” as such.
Anna Lvovsky, Cruising in Plain View: Clandestine Surveillance and the Unique Insights of Antihomosexual Policing, J. Urb. Hist. (2018).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement
,
LGBTQ Rights Law
,
Discrimination
Type: Article
Abstract
The mid-twentieth century witnessed a boom in policing against homosexual cruising, the practitioners of which relied on a set of robust defense tactics to avoid detection by strangers. Frustrated by the difficulties of catching suspected cruisers, police departments developed a variety of surreptitious, deeply intrusive surveillance tactics for monitoring public bathrooms. Yet while necessitated by the insularity of modern cruising culture, these surveillance tactics were legitimized in court partly through judges’ very skepticism of that culture. Weighing the utility of clandestine surveillance against its intrusion on innocent citizens, judges frequently justified surveillance by characterizing cruisers as sexual predators eager to expose themselves to innocent victims. From inception to conviction, the utility of clandestine surveillance thus depended partly on an epistemic lag between the arms of the criminal justice system: a disconnect between the police’s sensitivity to contemporary homosexual practices and judges’ continuing insistence on an older paradigm of perverse predation.
Anna Lvovsky, The Judicial Presumption of Police Expertise, 130 Harv. L. Rev. 1995 (2017).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Constitutional Law
,
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Fourth Amendment
,
Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement
,
Judges & Jurisprudence
Type: Article
Abstract
This Article examines the unrecognized origins and scope of the judicial presumption of police expertise: the notion that trained, experienced officers develop insight into crime sufficiently rarefied and reliable to justify deference from courts. That presumption has been widely criticized in Fourth Amendment analysis. Yet the Fourth Amendment is in fact part of a much broader constellation of deference, one that begins outside criminal procedure and continues past it. Drawing on judicial opinions, appellate records, trial transcripts, police periodicals, and other archival materials, this Article argues that courts in the mid-twentieth century invoked police expertise to expand police authority in multiple areas of the law. They certified policemen as expert witnesses on criminal habits; they deferred to police insights in evaluating arrests and authorizing investigatory stops; and they even credited police knowledge in upholding criminal laws challenged for vagueness, offering the officer’s trained judgment as a check against the risk of arbitrary enforcement. Complicating traditional accounts of judicial deference as a largely instrumental phenomenon, this Article argues that courts in the midcentury in fact came to reappraise police work as producing rare and reliable “expert” knowledge. And it identifies at least one explanation for that shift in the folds and interconnections between the courts’ many diverse encounters with the police in these years. From trials to suppression hearings to professional activities outside the courtroom, judges experienced multiple sites of unique exposure to the rhetoric and evidence of the police’s expert claims. These encounters primed judges to embrace police expertise not only through their deliberative content, but also their many structural biases toward police knowledge. This development poses important and troubling consequences for the criminal justice system, deepening critiques of police judgment in criminal procedure and raising novel concerns about the limits of judicial reasoning about police practices.
Anna Lvovsky, The Province of the Jurist: Judicial Resistance to Expert Testimony on Eyewitnesses as Institutional Rivalry 126 Harv. L. Rev. 2381 (2013).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Criminal Evidence
,
Jury Trials
,
Judges & Jurisprudence
Type: Article
Abstract
This Note examines the institutional biases underlying courts’ persisting, and deeply criticized, resistance to expert testimony on the reliability of eyewitnesses. While such resistance is generally explained as preserving the jury’s authority over fact-finding, protecting the democratic jury trial against “professionalization” by an elite class of experts, I argued that it more frequently reflects judges’ sense that eyewitness experts fail to improve on traditional safeguards provided by judge and attorneys, such as jury instructions and cross-examination — effectively preserving the trial as the professionalized realm of expert jurists. In context, advocates urging the admission of expert testimony should focus less on establishing the gap between expert and lay knowledge regarding eyewitnesses, and more on establishing the gap between expert testimony and judicial alternatives in correcting juror misconceptions.

Education History

Current Courses

Course Catalog View

Griswold 404

617-496-4253

Assistant: Susan Smith / 617-496-2028