Joseph E. Kennedy

Willie Person Mangum Distinguished Professor

Areas of Expertise

  • Client Counseling
  • Computer Law
  • Criminal Justice Policy
  • Criminal Justice Politics
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Cybercrime Law
  • Cybersecurity Law
  • Law Enforcement and Corrections
  • Legal Education


Joseph Kennedy joined the Carolina Law faculty in 1997 and serves as the Willie Person Mangum Distinguished Professor and Martha Brandis Professor of Law. Kennedy teaches Criminal Law, and Criminal Procedure Investigation. He has in the past taught Cybersecurity Law, Constitutional Law, International and Comparative Criminal Law and Lawyering Skills. Kennedy is a past Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and taught in China in 2012 as a Fulbright Lecturer. Kennedy is the author of numerous articles and essays on criminal law and the criminal justice system. His writings have appeared in the Georgetown Law Journal, Michigan Law Review, and the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. He writes often on mass incarceration and the War on Drugs. His article, Monstrous Offenders and the Search for Solidarity Through Modern Punishment, was selected for publication in Criminal Law Conversations, a collection of seminal criminal law articles published in 2009 by Oxford University Press. He has presented his scholarly work at Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School, Yale Law School, Oxford University, and the Annual Meetings of the Association of American Law Schools, Law and Society, and the American Society of Criminology. He is the solo author of the textbook “Criminal Law: Cases, Controversies and Problems” and “The Short and Happy Guide to Criminal Law.” Kennedy comments regularly on criminal justice issues in the media. He has published opinion editorials with Slate Magazine and has appeared on CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, Fox Weekend Live, and National Public Radio,

Kennedy received his Bachelor’s Degree in History with Honors from Stanford University and his law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles, where he served on the Law Review. Prior to teaching, Kennedy worked as an advocate at a center for the homeless in Los Angeles and practiced law as a litigation associate for Morrison and Foerster and as a public defender in San Francisco.


  • J.D., University of California at Los Angeles (1987)
  • B.A. (honors), Stanford University (1982)

Selected Publications

Sharks and Minnows in the War on Drugs: A Study of Quantity, Race and Drug Arrests (with I. Unah), 52 U.C. DAVIS L. REV. 729 (2018).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein | BEPress | Document Link

KF9219.85 .K46 2016

The Drug War and the Parable of the Bad Samaritan, 18 WASH. & LEE J. CIVIL RTS. & SOC. JUST. 73 (2011).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | Hein

The Story of Staples v. United States and the Innocent Machine Gun Owner:  The Good, the Bad, and the Dangerous (2010).

The Jena Six, Mass Incarceration, and the Remoralization of Civil Rights, 44 HARV. C.R.-C.L. L. REV. 477 (2009).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein | BEPress

Cautious Liberalism, 94 GEO. L.J. 1537 (2006).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein

Book Review Facing Evil (reviewing Lynn S. Chance, HIGH-PROFILE CRIMES: WHEN LEGAL CASES BECOME SOCIAL CAUSES (2005), and David Schmidt, NATURAL BORN CELEBRITIES: SERIAL KILLERS IN AMERICAN CULTURE (2005)), 104 MICH. L. REV. 1287 (2006).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein | BEPress

Drug Wars in Black and White, (The New Data: Over-Representation of Minorities in the Criminal Justice System), 66 LAW & CONTEMP. PROBS 153 (2003).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | Hein | BEPress

Monstrous Offenders and the Search for Solidarity Through Modern Punishment, 51 HASTINGS L.J. 829 (2000).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | Hein | BEPress

SSRN Author Page

In the Media