John C. Jeffries Jr.

  • David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law
  • Counselor to the President

John Jeffries joined the Virginia law faculty two years after earning his law degree in 1973. His primary research and teaching interests are civil rights, federal courts, criminal law and constitutional law. Jeffries has co-authored casebooks in civil rights, federal courts and criminal law and has published a variety of articles in those fields. He also wrote a biography of Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr.

In 1986, Jeffries was appointed the inaugural Emerson Spies Professor of Law, a position created to honor a long-time teacher and former dean. Jeffries has also held a variety of other academic appointments, including the Arnold H. Leon Professorship. He served as academic associate dean from 1994 to 1999. In the fall semester of 1999, he was acting dean during the sabbatical of Dean Robert Scott. He became dean in the fall of 2001 and served until June 2008. In 2017 he received the Thomas Jefferson Award for excellence in scholarship; the awards are the highest honor given to members of the University community. From August 2018-January 2021 he was senior vice president for advancement at the University of Virginia. He now serves as counselor to UVA President Jim Ryan.

During law school, Jeffries served as editor-in-chief of the Virginia Law Review. He received the Z Award for the highest academic average and the Woods Prize for the outstanding graduate. Immediately after graduation, he clerked for Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr., before serving in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant.

Scholarship Profile: A Central Figure at Virginia Law (Virginia Journal 2014).


  • J.D.
    University of Virginia School of Law
  • B.A.
    Yale University


Federal Courts and the Law of Federal-State Relations (with Peter W. Low and Curtis A. Bradley) (Foundation Press, 9th ed. 2018).

Criminal Law (with Richard J. Bonnie, Anne M. Coughlin, and Peter W. Low) (Foundation Press, 4th ed. 2015).

Federal Courts and the Law of Federal-State Relations (with Peter W. Low) (Foundation Press, 1987; 2d ed. 1989; 3d ed. 1994; 4th. ed. 1998; 5th ed. 2004; 6th ed. 2008, 7th ed. 2011, 8th ed.2014,) (with annual supplements).

Civil Rights Actions: Enforcing the Constitution, (with Pamela S. Karlan, Peter W. Low, and George A. Rutherglen) (Foundation Press, 2000; 2d ed. 2007, 3d ed. 2013) (with annual supplements).

Criminal Law: Cases and Materials (with Richard J. Bonnie, Anne M. Coughlin, and Peter W. Low) (Foundation Press, 3d ed. 2010). 

Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1994; Fordham University Press, 2001 [paperback edition]). 

Civil Rights Actions: Section 1983 and Related Statutes (with Peter W. Low) (Foundation Press, 1988; 2d ed. 1994) (with annual supplements). 

The Trial of John W. Hinckley, Jr.: A Case Study in the Insanity Defense (with Peter W. Low & Richard J. Bonnie) (Foundation Press, 1986; 2d ed. 2000). 

Criminal Law: Cases and Materials (with Peter W. Low & Richard J. Bonnie) (Foundation Press, 1982; 2d ed. 1986). 

Model Penal Code and Commentaries: Part II (with Peter W. Low), 3 vols. (American Law Institute, 1980).


"The Liability Rule for Constitutional Torts," 99 Va. L. Rev. 207 (2013).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"What's Wrong with Qualified Immunity?" 62 Fla. L. Rev. 851 (2010).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"Reversing the Order of Battle in Constitutional Torts," 2009 Sup. Ct. Rev. 115 (2010).

“Structural Reform Revisited” (with George A. Rutherglen), 95 Cal. L. Rev. 1387 (2007).
HeinOnline (PDF)

“Tribute to Justice Antonin Scalia,” 62 N.Y.U. Ann. Surv. Am. L. 11 (2006).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"Training Business Lawyers," 1 Va. L. & Bus. Rev. 6 (2006).
HeinOnline (PDF)

Bakke Revisited,” 2003 Sup. Ct. Rev. 1 (2004).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"A Political History of the Establishment Clause" (with James E. Ryan), 100 Mich. L. Rev.279 (2001).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"Disaggregating Constitutional Torts," 110 Yale L.J. 259 (2000).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"The Right-Remedy Gap in Constitutional Law," 109 Yale L.J. 87 (1999).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"Lewis F. Powell, Jr., and the Art of Judicial Selection," 112 Harv. L. Rev. 597 (1999).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"The Athlete as Judge: Review of The Man Who Once Was Whizzer White," 66 U. Chi. L. Rev. 495 (1999).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"The Non-Retrogression Principle in Constitutional Law" (with Daryl Levinson), 86 Cal. L. Rev. 1211 (1998).
SSRN Abstract | HeinOnline (PDF)

"In Praise of the Eleventh Amendment and Section 1983," 84 Va. L. Rev. 47 (1998).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"The Federalization of Organized Crime: Advantages of Federal Prosecution" (with John Gleeson), 46 Hastings L.J. 1095 (1995).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"Ineffective Assistance and Procedural Default in Habeas Corpus," (with William J. Stuntz) 57 U. Chi. L. Rev. 679 (1990).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"Compensation for Constitutional Torts: Reflections on the Significance of Fault," 88 Mich. L. Rev. 82 (1989).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"Damages for Constitutional Violations: The Relation of Risk to Injury in Constitutional Torts," 75 Va. L. Rev. 1461 (1989).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"Punitive Damages and the Rule of Law: The Role of Defendant's Wealth" (with Kenneth S. Abraham), 18 J. Legal Stud. 415 (1989).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"A Comment on the Constitutionality of Punitive Damages," 72 Va. L. Rev. 139 (1986).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"Legality, Vagueness, and the Construction of Penal Statutes," 71 Va. L. Rev. 189 (1985).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"Rethinking Prior Restraint," 92 Yale L.J. 409 (1983).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"Defenses, Presumptions, and Burden of Proof in the Criminal Law" (with Paul B. Stephan III), 88 Yale L.J. 1325 (1979).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"Commercial Speech: Economic Due Process and the First Amendment" (with Thomas H. Jackson), 65 Va. L. Rev. 1 (1979).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"DICTA: Constitutionalizing the Criminal Law?" (with Peter W. Low), 29 Va. L. Wkly., No. 18 (1977).

"Equitable Adoption: They Took Him Into Their Home and Called Him Fred," 58 Va. L. Rev. 727 (1972).
HeinOnline (PDF)

Current Courses

All Courses

Civil Rights Litigation
Constitutional Law
Criminal Law
Seminar in Ethical Values



Faculty in the News