Carissa Byrne Hessick

Anne Shea Ransdell and William Garland "Buck" Ransdell, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Faculty Development

(919) 962-4129
5129 Van Hecke-Wettach Hall

Areas of Expertise

  • Common Law
  • Criminal Justice Policy
  • Criminal Justice Politics
  • Criminal Law


Carissa Byrne Hessick joined the Carolina Law faculty in 2016. She serves as the Anne Shea Ransdell and William Garland “Buck” Ransdell, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law and as the director of the Prosecutors and Politics Project. Her teaching and research interests include criminal law, the structure of the criminal justice system, criminal sentencing, and child pornography crimes. Hessick is the author of multiple law review articles, essays, and op eds on plea bargaining, the powers and selection of prosecutors, Sixth Amendment sentencing rights, and criminal statutes. Her work has appeared in the California Law Review, the Cornell Law Review, the L.A. Times, the UCLA Law Review, and the Virginia Law Review, among others. She founded the Prosecutors and Politics Project in 2018. And she currently serves as the Reporter for the ABA Criminal Justice Section’s Sentencing Standards Task Force.

Hessick attended Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the Yale Law Journal and winner of the Potter Stewart Prize for the Morris Tyler Moot Court of Appeals. After graduating from law school, she clerked for Judge Barbara S. Jones on the Southern District of New York and for Judge A. Raymond Randolph on the D.C. Circuit. She also worked as a litigation associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in New York City. Before joining the faculty at Carolina Law, Hessick taught on the faculties at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law. She also spent two years as a Climenko Fellow at Harvard Law School.


  • J.D., Yale University (2002)
  • B.A., Linguistics, Columbia College of Columbia University (1999)

Selected Publications

Towards a Theory of Mitigation (with D.A. Berman), 96 B.U. L. REV. 161 (2016).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein

Document Link | KF9323 .R44 2016

Procedural Rights at Sentencing (Carissa Hessick & F. Andrew Hessick), 90 NOTRE DAME L. REV. 187 (2014).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein | BEPress

The Limits of Child Pornography, 89 IND. L.J. 1437 (2014).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein | BEPress

Disentangling Child Pornography from Child Sex Abuse, 88 WASH. U. L. REV. 853 (2011).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein

Double Jeopardy as a Limit on Punishment (Carissa Hessick & F.A. Hessick), 97 CORNELL L. REV. 45 (2011).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein | BEPress

Recognizing Constitutional Rights at Sentencing  (Carissa Hessick & F.A. Hessick), 99 CAL. L. REV. 47 (2011).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein

Ineffective Assistance at Sentencing, 50 B.C. L. REV. 1069 (2009).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein | BEPress

Why Are Only Bad Acts Good Sentencing Factors?, 88 B.U. L. REV. 1109 (2008).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein

Motive’s Role in Criminal Punishment, 80 S. CAL. L. REV. 89 (2006).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein

In the Media