Lecturer on Law
Winter and Spring Terms 2021
Amir H. Ali teaches the law school’s Criminal Justice Appellate Clinic and has taught courses on appellate and constitutional litigation. He serves as Director of the MacArthur Justice Center’s Washington D.C. office.
Mr. Ali appears in federal appellate courts across the country on behalf of families whose children were killed or severely injured by police, people condemned to death sentences, and prisoners who suffer constitutional violations behind bars. Mr. Ali successfully argued Welch v. United States, in which the Supreme Court held that hundreds of people subject to mandatory minimum sentences were entitled to be resentenced. Mr. Ali also argued Garza v. Idaho, in which he persuaded the Supreme Court to expand the constitutional right to counsel to include the right to appeal a guilty plea, even where the plea agreement purports to waive the right to appeal. Before that, he represented Louisiana death-row prisoner Kevan Brumfield in a string of victories before the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, leading to the permanent reversal of Mr. Brumfield’s death sentence.
Mr. Ali is one of the only attorneys in the country who has persuaded governments to voluntarily release his clients at the certiorari stage before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2018, he filed a certiorari petition for Corey Williams, who was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death as a 16-year-old child. In response to Mr. Ali’s petition, the District Attorney agreed to Mr. Williams’s immediate release from prison after having defended his wrongful conviction for twenty years. Before that, Mr. Ali filed an original habeas petition in the Supreme Court on behalf of a federal prisoner and the U.S. government responded by stipulating to the prisoner’s immediate release.
Mr. Ali has also been involved in challenges to executive policies that seek to oppress and punish minorities and people of color. His brief documenting President Trump’s record of hatred toward Muslim people was cited by Justice Sotomayor in her dissenting opinion in Trump v. Hawaii, concerning the President’s Muslim ban.
Mr. Ali is on the Board of The Appellate Project, a nonprofit that seeks to empower students of color to enter and thrive in the appellate profession. He is also a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, serves on the Legal Advisory Council for the Fair Punishment Project, and is a member of the Edward Coke Appellate Inn of Court. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court of Canada.