Sherod Thaxton is Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law. Prior to joining the law faculty, he was the Earl B. Dickerson Fellow and Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School and a staff attorney in the Capital Habeas Unit of the Office of the Federal Defender for the Eastern District of California. His primary research and teaching interests are in the areas of criminal law and procedure, capital punishment, habeas corpus, the sociology of law, and empirical legal studies.
After receiving his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of California at Davis, Professor Thaxton enrolled in the sociology program at Emory University and studied under the direction of Robert Agnew. While pursuing his graduate studies, he was the principal investigator of the Death Penalty Tracking Project for the Office of the Multi-County Public Defender in Atlanta, Georgia. At Emory, he earned his master’s and doctoral degrees—specializing in criminology and social psychology—and was selected as a finalist for the American Sociological Association Dissertation Award. Professor Thaxton received his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School where he was a John M. Olin Fellow in Law and Economics, an Academy of Achievement student honoree, and a Public Interest Law Prize recipient. He was also an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review and the University of Chicago Legal Forum—the only member of his graduating class to serve on multiple journals. Prior to law school, he was a Soros Justice Postgraduate Fellow at the Open Society Institute of the Soros Foundation in New York, and a Law and Social Science Doctoral Fellow at the American Bar Foundation in Chicago.
Professor Thaxton’s scholarship incorporates theoretical and methodological insights from the social sciences to evaluate legal concepts, legal doctrines, legal actors, and legal institutions. He is currently engaged in projects examining charging and plea-bargaining in both death penalty and non-death penalty contexts, state-level procedural sentencing law, and the behavioral underpinnings of substantive criminal law and sentencing law. His recent scholarship appears in the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, the Journal of Criminal Justice, the European Journal of Criminology, and the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology.