Cynthia Lee

Professor Cynthia Lee
Edward F. Howrey Professor of Law
2000 H Street, NW
Washington, District Of Columbia 20052
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Professor Cynthia Lee is the Edward F. Howrey Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School where she teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Adjudicatory Criminal Procedure, and Professional Responsibility. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Stanford University and a JD from UC Berkeley Law School. 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 in 1993, where she received the Thorsness Prize for Excellence in Teaching. She joined the GW Law faculty in August 2001.

Professor Lee has published in the California Law Review, the University of Illinois Law Review, the UCLA Law Review, the North Carolina Law Review, and the Minnesota Law Review, among other journals. She is the author or editor of four books, including Criminal Law: Cases and Materials (West 2019) (with Angela Harris); Criminal Procedure: Cases and Materials (West 2018) (with L. Song Richardson & Tamara Lawson); 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. Key provisions from a model statute on police use of deadly force she proposed in an article published in 2018 in the Illinois Law Review were incorporated into police reform legislation enacted by Connecticut, Virginia, and the District of Columbia in 2020.


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

In the News

"Utah Prosecutor Says New Self-Defense Law Makes it Harder to Charge Problematic Police Officers"

August 02, 2021
Cynthia Lee is quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune about a Utahn self-defense law that offers too much protection to police officers who use deadly force.

"Police Reform/One-Year Anniversary of the Death of George Floyd"

May 25, 2021

Cynthia Lee discusses with KDKA Radio (Pittsburgh) her model statute on police reform and police use of deadly force.

"Law Professor's Research Raises Bar For Police Use Of Force"

May 23, 2021
Cynthia Lee discusses with NPR's "All Things Considered" her proposal that states raise the standard when an officer is allowed to use force.

"Law Professor Helps Change Laws Governing Police Use of Deadly Force"

May 11, 2021

Cynthia Lee is quoted in Voice of America about her model statute on police use of force becoming law in DC, Connecticut, and Virginia.

"Q & A: The Implications of the Verdict in the Derek Chauvin Trial"

April 22, 2021
Cynthia Lee discusses with GW Today the potential implications of Derek Chauvin's conviction on all charges in the killing of George Floyd.