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Tonja Jacobi

Professor of Law and Sam Nunn Chair in Ethics and Professionalism

Areas of Expertise

Supreme Court, judicial behavior, criminal procedure, constitutional law


Constitutional Criminal Procedure, Supreme Court Oral Argument and Strategy


Tonja Jacobi PhD is professor of law and Sam Nunn Chair in Ethics and Professionalism at Emory Law School. She has a doctorate degree in political science from Stanford University, a Masters from the University of California, Berkeley, and a law degree with first class honors from the Australian National University. Prof. Jacobi specializes in Supreme Court judicial behavior and public law. Her areas of interest include judicial politics, Supreme Court oral arguments, criminal procedure, legislative process, and constitutional law. Combining doctrinal, empirical, and formal analysis, Prof. Jacobi examines how judges respond to institutional constraints.

In particular, she is a renowned expert in Supreme Court oral argument: in a series of empirical studies covering sixty years of arguments, she has identified patterns and prejudices in judicial and advocate behavior, and has shown that case outcomes can be predicted based on those behaviors. Supreme Court justices have commented on this work and said it changed the Court. She has published in over fifty peer review and law review journals and regularly writes Op Eds in major periodicals such as the New York Times, Bloomberg and the Washington Post, analyzing Supreme Court behavior and implications of the separation of powers system more generally. She has had a series of periodical articles published in the last year on voting rights, the filibuster, and democratic reform, and has multiple forthcoming law review articles on judicial behavior and criminal procedure that can be made available by the author.