Faculty Profile: Lee Kovarsky
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Professor Kovarsky is a leading scholar of the death penalty and habeas corpus. His teaching and writing also focuses on civil and criminal procedure, criminal justice, federal jurisdiction, and conflicts of law. His most recent articles are forthcoming or have been published in the California Law Review, the Cornell Law Review, the Duke Law Journal, the New York University Law Review, the Notre Dame Law Review, the Stanford Law Review, the Vanderbilt Law Review, and the Virginia Law Review. His shorter, more recent essays appear in online formats for the Chicago Law Review, the Cornell Law Review, the Minnesota Law Review, and the Virginia Law Review. He has co-authored two books with Professor Brandon L. Garrett, including a leading case book on habeas corpus for which the second edition is in progress. He was elected to the American Law Institute in 2020.
Professor Kovarsky remains an active habeas and capital litigator. He regularly represents death-sentenced prisoners as they await execution, and he has worked on many dozens of capital post-conviction cases. He argued Ayestas v. Davis before the U.S. Supreme Court during the October 2017 term, with the Court deciding unanimously in the capital prisoner's favor. He frequently drafts and contributes to amicus briefing before U.S. Supreme and other appellate courts, usually representing law professors or other professional organizations, including the American Bar Association (ABA) and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).
Professor Kovarsky received his B.A. in Political Science and Economics from Yale University, with awards of academic distinction in both majors. He received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was an Articles Editor for the Virginia Law Review. After law school, he clerked for the Honorable Jerry E. Smith on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He worked for several years as an appellate practitioner before beginning his academic career with a three-year appointment as an Acting Assistant Professor at New York University School of Law. He joined the School of Law in the summer of 2020, after a decade at the University of Maryland.