Cynthia Lee

Professor Cynthia Lee
Edward F. Howrey Professor of Law
2000 H Street, NW
Washington, District Of Columbia 20052
[email protected]

Professor Lee teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Adjudicatory Criminal Procedure and Professional Responsibility at the George Washington University Law School. Professor Lee graduated from Stanford University and received her JD from UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law. Upon graduating from law school, she clerked for Judge Harold M. Fong, then Chief Judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii. She then served as an associate with Cooper, White & Cooper in San Francisco, California, where she was a member of the firm's criminal defense practice group. Professor Lee started teaching at the University of San Diego School of Law, where she received the Thorsness Prize for Excellence in Teaching. In August 2001, she joined the GW Law faculty. 

Professor Lee has written numerous articles published in various law journals, including Reforming the Law on Police Use of Deadly Force in the University of Illinois Law Review, Making Race Salient: Trayvon Martin and Implicit Bias in a Not Yet Post-Racial Society in the North Carolina Law Review, The Trans Panic  Defense: Masculinity, Heteronormativity, and the Murder of Transgender Women in the Hastings Law Journal (with Peter Kwan), The Gay Panic Defense in the UC Davis Law Review, A New Approach to Voir Dire into Racial Bias in the UC Irvine Law Review, Prosecutorial Discretion, Substantial Assistance, and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines in the UCLA Law Review,Race and Self-Defense: Toward a Normative Conception of Reasonableness in the Minnesota Law Review, and Freedom of Speech in the Public Workplace: A Comment on the Public Concern Requirement in the California Law Review. She is the author or editor of four books: Criminal Procedure: Cases and Materials (West 2018) (with L. Song Richardson & Tamara Lawson); Criminal Law: Cases and Materials (West 2019) (with Angela Harris); Searches and Seizures: The Fourth Amendment, Its Constitutional History and the Contemporary Debate (Prometheus Books 2011); and Murder and the Reasonable Man: Passion and Fear in the Criminal Courtroom (NYU Press 2003). Professor Lee served as chair of the AALS Criminal Justice Section in 2008. She is currently doing research on the trans panic defense. Her article, The Trans Panic Defense Revisited, is forthcoming in the American Criminal Law Review at Georgetown Law Center. Another article, Probable Cause with Teeth, is forthcoming in the George Washington Law Review.



BA, Stanford University; JD, University of California, Berkeley

In the News

"Panic Defense"

December 06, 2019

Cynthia Lee appeared on the Criminal podcast to discuss the history of the gay panic defense.

"Changing Use of Force Law"

May 28, 2019

Cynthia Lee spoke to Criminal (In)justice about the different ways that laws governing police use of force need to change.

“GW Law Professor Crafts Police Use of Force Legislation”

March 20, 2019

Cynthia Lee is quoted by GW Today about a Maryland legislator using her model legislation to craft a new police use of force bill.

“It Looks Like Another Black Man With a Gun Was Killed by Police After Trying to Help”

November 29, 2018

Cynthia Lee writes in Slate about the shooting of E.J. Bradford and its larger implications around our nation’s gun laws.

“Jemel Roberson's Avoidable Death: Reform Deadly Force Laws, Require Police to De-escalate”

November 14, 2018

Cynthia Lee writes in USA Today about how police de-escalation could have saved the life of security guard Jemel Roberson.