Cynthia Lee

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

Professor Lee teaches and writes in the areas of criminal law and criminal procedure. She also teaches Professional Responsibility and Adjudicatory Criminal Procedure. 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 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 2014) (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 race and policing. Her most recent work, Reforming the Law on Police Use of Deadly Force: De-escalation, Preseizure Conduct, and Imperfect Self-Defense is forthcoming in the University of Illinois Law Review.



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

In the News

"Episode 109: The Fourth Amendment"

March 27, 2018

Cynthia Lee speaks to Civics 101 about the Fourth Amendment and its limits in the 21st century.

"LGBTQ Advocates Welcome End of 'Gay Panic' Defense in Illinois, Look to Other States"

December 29, 2017

Cynthia Lee is quoted in the Los Angeles Times about the usage of "gay panic" or "trans panic" defense.

"Illinois To Ban 'Gay Panic Defense' In New Year"

December 28, 2017

Cynthia Lee is quoted by NPR regarding her article on "The Gay Panic Defense."

"No Third Trial for Ex-Officer Who Killed Cincinnati Driver"

July 18, 2017

Cynthia Lee is quoted in The New York Times about a case that involved a shooting of an unarmed black man.