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Christy E. Lopez

Distinguished Visitor from Practice

B.A., University of California, Riverside; J.D., Yale

Christy E. Lopez is joining the faculty as a Distinguished Visitor from Practice. For the past six years, Professor Lopez served as a Deputy Chief...

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Christy E. Lopez is joining the faculty as a Distinguished Visitor from Practice. For the past six years, Professor Lopez served as a Deputy Chief in the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. Professor Lopez led the Division’s group conducting pattern-or-practice investigations of police departments and other law enforcement agencies, including litigating and negotiating settlement agreements to resolve investigative findings. Professor Lopez also helped coordinate the Department’s broader efforts to ensure constitutional policing.

Professor Lopez directly led the team that investigated the Ferguson Police Department and was a primary drafter of the Ferguson Report and negotiator of the Ferguson consent decree. She also led investigations of many other law enforcement agencies, including the Chicago Police Department, the New Orleans Police Department, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the Newark (New Jersey) Police Department, and the Missoula, Montana investigation. The Missoula matter was the Division’s first pattern-or-practice investigation to focus on the collective law enforcement response to allegations of sexual assault, and the first to focus on a prosecutor’s office. Professor Lopez helped formulate and draft the DOJ statement of interest in the Floyd litigation, challenging the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk practices, as well as DOJ guidance released in 2015 on preventing gender bias in the law enforcement response to sexual assault and domestic violence.

Professor Lopez’ career has been largely focused on criminal justice reform, and constitutional policing in particular. After clerking on the Alaska Supreme Court for Justice Robert L. Eastaugh, Professor Lopez began her civil rights career as an Honor’s Attorney in the Civil Rights Division from 1995-2000, investigating and litigating cases regarding jails, prisons, and police departments. Professor Lopez later served as a federal court monitor of the Oakland (California) Police Department for Senior District Judge Thelton E. Henderson of the Northern District of California. Throughout her career, Professor Lopez has been involved in police reform efforts at the state, local, and federal levels: she has conducted independent reviews of police shootings; served on the Maryland Attorney General’s Task Force on Electronic Weapons; was a contributing writer on the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Commission Report on sexual violence in prisons, jails, and lockups; and has served on various other commissions and working groups related to police standards.

In 2016, Professor Lopez was awarded the Flame Award by the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) for her long-term commitment to police accountability and civilian oversight. In 2015, Professor Lopez was awarded the Department of Justice’s highest employee honor, the Attorney General’s Exceptional Service award, for her work leading the Ferguson Police Department pattern-or-practice investigation. In 2013, Professor Lopez was awarded the Attorney General’s John Marshall Award for her work leading the New Orleans Police Department investigation and consent decree negotiation.

Professor Lopez currently serves as an Advisor on the American Law Institute (ALI) Principles of Law, Police Investigations Project. She authored the 2010 American Constitution Society Issue Brief, "Disorderly (mis)Conduct:The Problem with ‘Contempt of Cop’ Arrests,” and has previously taught law school courses on unlawful racial, national origin, and religious profiling, and on negotiations. Professor Lopez is licensed to practice law in Washington DC and California.

Recent Scholarship

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All Scholarship 2017 - Present

Selected Contributions to Other Publications

  • Christy E. Lopez & Jonathan Aronie, Keeping Each Other Safe: An Assessment of the Use of Peer Intervention Programs to Prevent Police Officer Mistakes and Misconduct, Using New Orleans’ EPIC Program as a Potential National Model, Police Q. (Online First), June 6, 2017.   
Recent scholarship

In the News

"Baltimore police caught planting drugs at scene, public defender's office says," coverage by the Virginian-Pilot, July 20, 2017, quoting Professor Christy Lopez. 

"Baltimore police investigate officers after one seen putting bag of drugs at scene," coverage by The Washington Post, July 19, 2017, quoting Distinguished Visitor from Practice Christy Lopez.

"De-Escalation Training Helps Set Higher Policing Standards in Camden County," coverage by NJ Pen, July 13, 2017, quoting Distinguished Visitor from Practice Christy Lopez.

"Chicago charges show challenge of code of silence Chicago charges show challenge of police code of silence," coverage in The Washington Post, June 28, 2017, quoting Distinguished Visitor from Practice Christy Lopez.

 "Chicago charges show challenge of police code of silence", coverage in News12/Long Island, June 28, 2017, featuring Professor Christy Lopez

View all News

All News

"Baltimore police caught planting drugs at scene, public defender's office says," coverage by the Virginian-Pilot, July 20, 2017, quoting Professor Christy Lopez. 

"Baltimore police investigate officers after one seen putting bag of drugs at scene," coverage by The Washington Post, July 19, 2017, quoting Distinguished Visitor from Practice Christy Lopez.

"De-Escalation Training Helps Set Higher Policing Standards in Camden County," coverage by NJ Pen, July 13, 2017, quoting Distinguished Visitor from Practice Christy Lopez.

"Chicago charges show challenge of code of silence Chicago charges show challenge of police code of silence," coverage in The Washington Post, June 28, 2017, quoting Distinguished Visitor from Practice Christy Lopez.

 "Chicago charges show challenge of police code of silence", coverage in News12/Long Island, June 28, 2017, featuring Professor Christy Lopez

"Department Of Justice Lawyers Fear Trump Will Scrap All Their Work To Overhaul The Chicago Police," coverage in BuzzFeed News, May 25, 2017, featuring Christy E. Lopez, Distinguished Visitor from Practice.

“Chicago Was on The Verge Of Police Reform. Then Trump Picked Jeff Sessions To Run The DOJ”, coverage in The Huffington Post, April 29, 2017, featuring Visiting Professor Christy Lopez.

"The Reform Stops Here," coverage in Slate, April 4, 2017, featuring Christy E. Lopez, Distinguished Visitor from Practice.

"Civil rights groups alarmed at Justice Department's review of local police settlements," coverage in The Los Angeles Times, featuring Christy E. Lopez, Distinguished Visitor from Practice.

"Activists fear federal review of U.S. police agreements could imperil reforms," coverage in Reuters, April 4, 2017, featuring Christy E. Lopez, Distinguished Visitor from Practice.

“Here’s What Will- And Won’t- Happen Next Time A Cop Kills An American”, coverage in The Huffington Post, March 13, 2017, featuring Visiting Professor Christy Lopez

"Why Jeff Sessions Should Police the Police," an opinion piece by Christy Lopez, Distinguished Visitor from Practice, in The Marshall Project, January 30, 2017.

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