Rachel Harmon

  • Harrison Robertson Professor of Law
  • Class of 1957 Research Professor of Law
  • Director, Center for Criminal Justice

Rachel Harmon is a leading scholar on policing and the laws that regulate police behavior. Her new casebook, “The Law of the Police” (2021), is the first resource for students and others seeking to understand and evaluate how American law governs police interactions with the public. Her scholarship on policing has appeared in the New York University, Michigan and Stanford law reviews, among others.

At UVA Law, she directs the Center for Criminal Justice, and teaches in the areas of criminal law and procedure, policing and civil rights. She is a member of the American Law Institute and serves as an associate reporter for ALI’s project on Principles of the Law of Policing. She advises nonprofits and government actors on issues of policing and the law, and in the fall of 2017, served as a law enforcement expert for the “Independent Review of the 2017 Protest Events in Charlottesville, Virginia.”

Harmon moved into academia in 2006 after spending eight years as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. At the Civil Rights Division, Harmon investigated and prosecuted civil rights crimes nationwide, including hate crimes and cases of excessive force and sexual violence by police officers and other government officials. Harmon attended Yale Law School after receiving two master’s degrees with distinction from the London School of Economics as a British Marshall Scholar. After law school, she clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Justice Stephen Breyer of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Scholarship Profile: Promoting Policing at Its Best (Virginia Journal 2012)


  • J.D.
    Yale Law School
  • M.Sc.
    London School of Economics
  • M.Sc.
    London School of Economics
  • B.S.
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Law of the Police (2021).
Publisher | Amazon  

“Proactive Policing and the Legacy of Terry” (with Andrew Manns), 15 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 49 (2017).
HeinOnline (PDF)

“Evaluating and Improving Structural Reform in Police Departments,” 16 Criminology & Pub. Pol’y 617 (2017).

“Legal Remedies for Police Misconduct,” in Erik Luna, ed., 2 Reforming Criminal Justice: Policing 27 (Academy for Justice, 2017).

"Why Arrest?" 115 Mich. L. Rev. 307 (2016).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"Reconsidering Criminal Procedure: Teaching the Law of the Police," 60 St. Louis U. L. J. 391 (2016). 
HeinOnline (PDF)

"Federal Programs and the Real Costs of Policing," 90 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 870 (2015).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"Legal Control of the Police," in 6 Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice 2898 (Gerben Bruinsma & David Weisburd eds., 2014).

"Why Do We (Still) Lack Data on Policing?" 96 Marq. L. Rev. 1119 (2013) (symposium on the Wickersham Commission).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

“Limited Leverage: Federal Remedies and Policing Reform,” 32 St. Louis U. Pub. L. Rev. 33 (2012) (symposium on controlling police misconduct after the exclusionary rule). 
 | HeinOnline (PDF)

"The Problem of Policing," 110 Mich. L. Rev. 761 (2012) (awarded honorable mention in the Association of American Law Schools Scholarly Papers Competition, 2012).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"Promoting Civil Rights Through Proactive Policing Reform," 62 Stan. L. Rev. 1 (2009).  
HeinOnline (PDF)

"When is Police Violence Justified?," 102 Nw. U. L. Rev. 1119 (2008).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

Current Courses

All Courses

Criminal Law
Criminal Investigation
The Supreme Court and Criminal Law
Police Misconduct


Charge to the Class of 2021, With Professor Rachel Harmon

Faculty in the News