Deborah W. Denno is the Arthur A. McGivney Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law. She received her B.A. from the University of Virginia, her M.A. from the University of Toronto, her Ph.D. in criminology from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, where she was the Managing Editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. Prior to joining the Fordham Law faculty in 1991, Professor Denno clerked for Anthony J. Scirica, now Chief Judge of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and worked as an associate at Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett. At Fordham Law School, she primarily teaches criminal law, criminal procedure, torts, and various seminars on advanced criminal law topics including rape and social science evidence. Professor Denno was a member of the United States Sentencing Commission’s Drugs/Violence Task Force, and has visited on the faculties of Columbia Law School and Vanderbilt Law School. She has also been a Visiting Professor of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, a Visiting Senior Fellow at the School of Advanced Study at the University of London, and a British Academy Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics. In 2007, the National Law Journal selected Professor Denno as one of its “Fifty Most Influential Women Lawyers in America.”
Professor Denno has published on a broad range of topics relating to criminal law, criminal procedure, social sciences and the law, and the death penalty, including the constitutionality of execution methods. In the Supreme Court’s recent execution methods decision, Baze v. Rees, 128 S. Ct. 1520 (2008), Chief Justice Roberts's plurality opinion and the concurring opinions of Justices Alito, Stevens, and Breyer together cited four different articles by Professor Denno. Chief Justice Roberts cited a fifth article, Testing Penry and its Progeny, 22 Am. J. Crim. L. 1 (1994), in two separate opinions in 2007. In Testing Penry and its Progeny, Professor Denno performed an empirical analysis of the bio-social factors that correlate with an increased likelihood of violent crime to evaluate the Texas courts’ application of the Supreme Court decision in Penry v. Linaugh, 492 U.S. 392 (1989). Professor Denno has also initiated cutting-edge examinations of criminal law defenses pertaining to insanity, rape law, gender differences, consciousness, biological and genetic links to crime, drug offenses, jury decision-making, and the impact of lead poisoning. Currently she is working on a book-length project analyzing the neuroscientific correlates of criminal intent and conduct.
Professor Denno was a co-editor of, and contributor to, the Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice (2nd ed. Macmillan, 2002). In addition to her varied publications, she has engaged in wide-ranging quantitative criminological research. For nearly a decade, she directed one of the country’s largest longitudinal studies of biological and sociological predictors of crime in the capacity of Senior Research Associate at the Sellin Center for Studies in Criminology and Criminal Law, University of Pennsylvania. Professor Denno detailed the results of this study in her book, Biology and Violence: From Birth to Adulthood (1990). Criminologist Marvin E. Wolfgang, in his foreword to the book, noted that Professor Denno had “mastered the language of medical science, quantitative analysis, and sociological concepts to such an extent that in her person there is an interdisciplinarity that many of us have called for in criminology over the years.” A paperback version of this book was published in 2007. Additional examples of Professor Denno’s research include her contributions to a nationwide study of plea bargaining at the Georgetown University Law Center and to the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender’s study on disparities in the application of the death penalty. Professor Denno is often quoted in the media and has appeared on numerous television news reports.