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Her Work in Public Defense Reform Led Professor Janet Moore to UC Law


Prior to joining the College of Law’s faculty, Janet Moore had been active in public defense reform locally, where she helped build “a joint indigent defense clinic” for the College of Law and neighboring Salmon P. Chase College of Law.

“It was through that that I came to UC’s attention, so when they needed somebody to teach last spring, they gave me a holler,” Moore said. Brought on as a visiting professor, Moore taught Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure II last year. This semester she teaches Criminal Procedure II and Evidence.

“The teaching of young professionals, the growing and nurturing of young professionals, is extremely satisfying and challenging work,” said Moore, who will teach another Evidence section and also Criminal Law in the spring 2012.

Long before joining the College of Law’s faculty, Moore had aspirations to teach, though not necessarily at a law school. In 1981, Moore earned her undergraduate degree from Kalamazoo College, a small liberal arts school in her home state of Michigan. There, Moore studied religion, but also wrote a lot of poetry and developed an interest in theology, she said.

Following graduation, Moore worked for the well-known author and astrophysicist Dr. Carl Sagan as a research assistant in New York, before heading to Chicago to attend the University of Chicago Divinity School, with “the intention of getting a PhD and teaching theological ethics.”

Then, she had two children – who are 27 and 20 years old now.

The next leg of Moore’s journey took her family and her to North Carolina, specifically Duke University in Durham. “I wanted to find a law school where I could do both the law and continue to do a master’s in philosophy,” said Moore, who still had intentions of teaching philosophical and theological ethics.

After graduating from Duke’s School of Law, Moore clerked for the Honorable J. Dickson Phillips, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Durham, North Carolina.

She found this to be a “very eye opening experience in many respects, particularly with respect to the back end of the capital litigation system and habeas corpus, and how that works or doesn’t.” “Wrongful convictions was a rather dramatic introduction to all of that,” she added.

Then, her husband’s work took the family overseas for several years, not far from Paris, but they returned to North Carolina in 1998. Upon her return she took a position as an Assistant Appellate Defender with the Office of the Appellate Defender in Durham and Asheville, still intending to teach and research.  “It turned out that I was really good at getting people off death row,” Moore said, quick to credit her colleagues in contributing to her successes.

Her experiences in this position “furtherer deepened (her) awareness of the pattern that led folks, particularly low-income people and people of color, into the criminal justice system – both as crime victims and as defendants,” she said.

Moore also became “much more keenly aware of the shockingly poor representation that a lot of these folks get as indigent defendants,” she added. 

In 2005, Moore and her family moved to Cincinnati, where she continued this same line of capital and noncapital appeals work on an appointed basis. In 2006, she became involved with the Ohio Justice & Policy Center as director of OJPC’s Race and Justice Project. “The goal, as I saw it,” Moore said of her position, “was to focus at the front end of the system and try to divert the school-to-prison pipeline.” 

Moore stayed on with the OJPC through 2010, before her work caught the eye of the College of Law. In addition to her teaching, Moore has pursued scholarship which is focused, unsurprisingly, on criminal justice reform. She recently had an article published in the Freedom Center Journal, while another of Moore’s pieces will be coming out in the Brooklyn Law Review in 2012.

When Moore is not focused on the law – though, admittedly¸ she enjoys spending her days at the law building  – she enjoys swimming, tennis, golf, gardening, biking, hiking and traveling when she gets the opportunity.

 

By Jordan Cohen, ‘13