Daniel Epps


Associate professor of law

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Daniel Epps, former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, is associate professor of law.

Epps focuses on criminal law and criminal procedure – and his scholarly approach draws upon history, philosophy, political science and economics.

He is currently working on projects about the role of the jury, the Supreme Court’s case-selection process and the harmless-error doctrine.

In addition to his scholarship, Epps co-hosts a seasonal podcast about the Supreme Court with Ian Samuel, a former clerk for Justice Scalia who is currently a fellow at Harvard Law School. First Mondays is available on iTunes and also has a twitter feed that stays up to date on all things Supreme Court.

In the media

Abolishing Qualified Immunity Is Unlikely to Alter Police Behavior

The best argument for eliminating qualified immunity is less about deterrence and more about symbolism. Qualified immunity routinely requires courts to say that there will be no penalty for a police officer who has violated the Constitution. That sends the message — to officers and the public — that the police are above the law, writes Daniel Epps.

Stories

Sen. Hawley has been condemned. His bad legal arguments should be stamped out, too.

Sen. Hawley has been condemned. His bad legal arguments should be stamped out, too.

Bad faith partisan arguments about state legislatures and election law may sound reasoned and eloquent, but they chip away at the rule of law — laying the groundwork for future strained arguments restricting the right to vote, banning democracy-enhancing initiatives such as voter-initiated redistricting commissions and (ultimately) overturning the results of free and fair elections.
The first 100 Biden/Harris days

The first 100 Biden/Harris days

Faculty experts from across Washington University in St. Louis draw upon their research, their instruction, their experience and their thought leadership to proffer insight and ideas for the new administration, the new beginning.
Trump self-pardon might open him to prosecution

Trump self-pardon might open him to prosecution

As Donald Trump prepares to leave the presidency Jan. 20 in the wake of being accused of fomenting the riot at the U.S. Capitol, he is reportedly considering an unprecedented move: the self-pardon. While no president has ever pardoned himself, the act might be more trouble than its worth for Trump, notes Dan Epps, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis.
Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18, visited Washington University in St. Louis twice during her career — in 1979 and 2001. She met with students and faculty, lectured and even contributed journal articles to the Washington University Law Quarterly and Washington University Journal of Law & Policy. Faculty from the School of Law reflect on her long and influential career.
Supreme nomination system ‘makes no sense’

Supreme nomination system ‘makes no sense’

Daniel Epps, associate professor in the School of Law at Washington University in St. Louis, and Steven Smith, Kate M. Gregg Distinguished Professor of Social Science, weigh in on who has the most to lose before the election if a nomination is completed, how this situation differs from the Senate-stalled Merrick Garland nomination in 2016 and why the nomination system needs to change.
McConnell’s “Liability Shield” Is a Weapon Aimed at COVID-19 Victims

McConnell’s “Liability Shield” Is a Weapon Aimed at COVID-19 Victims

There are steps Congress might take that would strike an appropriate balance between victim’s interests, the need to protect essential services acting reasonably, and federalism values. Instead, this bill gives businesses a free pass at the expense of COVID-19’s victims. If passed into law, the bill would make it anything but safe for the country to go back to work.
The Supreme Court is leaking. That’s a good thing.

The Supreme Court is leaking. That’s a good thing.

There is no reason to be distraught about Supreme Court leaks. If anything, we should welcome the chance for the public to better understand how those who govern us — including judges — make their decisions.
Abolishing Qualified Immunity Is Unlikely to Alter Police Behavior

Abolishing Qualified Immunity Is Unlikely to Alter Police Behavior

In the end, the best argument for eliminating qualified immunity is less about deterrence and more about symbolism. Qualified immunity routinely requires courts to say that there will be no penalty for a police officer who has violated the Constitution. That is the wrong message.
One change that could make American criminal justice fairer

One change that could make American criminal justice fairer

Some reforms are easier than others. Creating a defender general is an unusually simple one, with the potential to provide large benefits for millions of people, given that it involves establishing only an office with two dozen employees.
Making the case for a ‘Defender General’

Making the case for a ‘Defender General’

The United States needs a “Defender General” — a public official charged with representing the collective interests of criminal defendants before the Supreme Court of the United States, argues a new article co-authored by Daniel Epps, professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.
WashU Expert: How to save the Supreme Court

WashU Expert: How to save the Supreme Court

During the July 30 Democratic presidential debate, candidate Pete Buttigieg renewed his calls to “depoliticize the Supreme Court with structural reform.” Buttigieg has endorsed a Supreme Court reform proposal offered by Daniel Epps, associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis.
A simple plan for saving the Supreme Court

A simple plan for saving the Supreme Court

If Judge Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court, Republicans will have succeeded in a decades-long effort to take the courts in a more conservative direction. While they will surely celebrate this victory, the real loser in this partisan battle is not the other side — it’s the Supreme Court. And without radical reforms to save its legitimacy, the Court may never recover from its transformation into a nakedly partisan institution.
Police officers are bypassing juries to face judges

Police officers are bypassing juries to face judges

The city where I live and work has been roiled by protests after the acquittal of former city police officer Jason Stockley on first-degree murder charges for his 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith. Again, to many of us, the justice system seems unwilling to hold law-enforcement officers to account for violence against people of color.
WashU Expert: Gorsuch best possible choice under circumstances

WashU Expert: Gorsuch best possible choice under circumstances

Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, has a strong commitment to rule of law values and is the best possible choice among the potential nominees that Trump circulated before the election, says a Supreme Court scholar at Washington University in St. Louis.