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Rachel Harmon, Innovative Criminal Law Scholar, Honored With All-University Teaching Award

Rachel Harmon, Innovative Criminal Law Scholar, Honored With All-University Teaching Award

College of Virginia School of Regulation professor Rachel Harmon has been named a recipient of just one of this year’s All-College Educating Awards, marking the seventh time in the past 10 years that a member of the school’s school has been honored for their enthusiasm and skill in the classroom.

When Harmon started training her course Law of the Police in 2011, she would explain to her pupils not to imagine of it as a simple training course, but fairly as a significant standpoint on the regulations and procedures that regulate law enforcement action and perform. But as she and her students delved into the instances, heritage and commentary that later on grew to become her 2021 seminal casebook of the identical title, the pupils experienced other suggestions.

“Students begun promptly pushing back again and stating, ‘No, we’re heading to use this in the real globe!’” Harmon stated. “So I am not only trying to train them doctrine, I’m hoping to give them resources to aid them transform the earth.”

Those pupils have entered a earth exactly where the social expense of policing is an situation that is equally salient and urgent. Some of her graduates, like Andrew Manns ’17, have taken up the phone for modify by starting to be prosecutors and civil legal rights lawyers. Some others have joined law college faculties and are now training the legislation of the police on their own. Quite a few far more are applying their felony justice mastering to pro bono or legislative get the job done.

Harmon, a former federal prosecutor with the Office of Justice Civil Rights Division and a director of the school’s Middle for Prison Justice, is the Harrison Robertson Professor of Law. She joined the UVA Law faculty in 2006.

She is a member of the American Regulation Institute and serves as an associate reporter for ALI’s undertaking on Principles of the Legislation of Policing. She regularly advises nonprofits and govt actors on troubles of policing and the regulation.

In addition to teaching Law of the Police, Harmon teaches a battery of far more traditional prison justice classes, together with legal regulation, felony course of action and courses examining the Supreme Court’s solution to legal jurisprudence.

Harmon’s classes are a scorching commodity at the Regulation School, and students appear into the classes with a extensive spectrum of political views and daily life experiences.

As Dean Risa Goluboff pointed out in her nomination letter, “These are complicated and controversial topics. The situations are ripped from the headlines, and they involve deeply troubling facts about violence, racism and discrimination.” 

Harmon manages these difficulties with singular talent, Goluboff explained, and named Harmon’s ability to generate house for a free of charge and respectful trade of suggestions about these controversial issues “miraculous.”

Second-calendar year college student Juhi Desai described it like this: “Prof. Harmon teaches in this kind of a way that suggests, ‘Here’s all of the information and facts and experiences I have. What info and experiences do you have? Is there a way to use our blended knowledge to make the globe a fairer put?’”

Superior demo lawyers can typically read faces, and Harmon uses that talent to develop a perception of inclusion in her classroom. Much more than one college student claimed Harmon in some cases phone calls on persons dependent on a search on their confront relatively than a raised hand. “She knew that I realized the respond to, and told me that she needed me to feel like I could take up space in her classroom,” wrote Catherine Guerrier ’21, a 1st-generation pupil who is now clerking for a federal District Court docket in Connecticut. “What it did is enhance to me that I belonged in the seat I occupied.”

Harmon’s emotional intelligence is, in element, rooted in her own humble upbringing. Before she earned degrees from MIT (a bachelor’s in engineering), the London College of Economics (two graduate levels in political philosophy) and her law degree from Yale, Harmon “grew up as a subsidized-school-lunch kid, unprepared for the norms of elite instructional establishments,” she wrote in a assertion to the awards committee. She utilizes a liberal office environment-several hours policy to cultivate a sense of camaraderie and belonging for all pupils.

People workplace hrs are, quote, “legendary,” with regulation college students, undergraduates and even alumni uncovered sitting down on the ground and spilling out into the hallway to listen, check with inquiries about conditions, and choose her mind for profession, tutorial and even everyday living tips, Manns and other people mentioned.

Inspite of the political and structural road blocks to police reform, Harmon is steadfastly optimistic, and her passion for the operate is palpable and infectious. “Professor Harmon has cultivated this kind of a faithful subsequent of learners, each of whom was profoundly impacted by her teaching and mentorship, that those people pupils now soar at the opportunity to shell out forward a fraction of what we owe her,” Manns wrote.

The Princeton Review’s study of law learners has constantly named UVA Law professors as, collectively, the finest in the country for five consecutive several years.

Past UVA Law school recipients of the educating award are Michael Gilbert (2019-20), George S. Geis (2018-19), Leslie Kendrick ’06 (2016-17), Toby Heytens ’00 (2015-16), Gregory Mitchell (2013-14), Michael Collins (2012-13), Goluboff (2010-11), Jim Ryan ’92 (2009-10), Caleb Nelson (2007-08), Rip Verkerke (2006-07), John C. Harrison (2004-05), Barry Cushman (2002-03, Regulation and Background), Kenneth S. Abraham (1999-2000), Anne M. Coughlin (1998-99), Paul G. Mahoney (1997-98), Michael J. Klarman (1996-97) and Pamela S. Karlan (1995-96).