James S. Liebman

James S. Liebman is an expert on institutional design and change in public education and criminal justice. He is the founder of the Columbia Center for Public Research and Leadership, which since 2010 has engaged upper-level law, business, data sciences, education, and policy graduate students in studying strategies and conducting hands-on projects to equalize children’s access to high-quality public schools.

In the criminal justice context, Liebman’s research has focused on the death penalty, habeas corpus, and structures for improving the accuracy of guilt determinations.  Liebman has argued five capital and habeas corpus appeals in front of the U.S. Supreme Court and many others in lower federal and state courts. He has also testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Administration of Justice about the need for improved legal representation in state capital trials and revisions to federal habeas corpus law, respectively.

From 2006 to 2009, Liebman led the New York City Department of Education’s Division of Accountability and Achievement Resources under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. His division provided parents and educators with the tools to improve student results and hold schools accountable for advancing students’ academic progress. New York City awarded Liebman the 2009 Overall Excellence in Technology Award for his design of the city’s educational data system.

Liebman served as a law clerk to Judge Carl McGowan of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia from 1977 to 1978 and U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens the following year. From 1979 to 1985, he was assistant counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Liebman joined the Law School’s faculty in 1985, where he held the position of vice dean from 1991 to 1992.