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Sara Mayeux

Assistant Professor of Law

Sara Mayeux researches and writes on criminal law and procedure, constitutional law, and American legal history. Before joining Vanderbilt’s law faculty in 2016, she was a Sharswood Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, before which she was the Berger-Howe Legal History Fellow at Harvard Law School. Mayeux’s doctoral dissertation, titled Poor Defenses: The American Legal Profession and the Problem of the "Indigent Accused" in the Twentieth Century, draws on previously untapped archives to reconstruct the history of public defenders’ offices and, more generally, of American lawyers’ efforts to theorize and institutionalize a right to state-provided criminal defense. After earning her law degree at Stanford, she clerked for Judge Marsha S. Berzon of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit before entering the legal academy.

Research Interests

Criminal law and procedure, constitutional law, American legal history


Representative Publications

  • "Federalism Anew," 56 American Journal of Legal History 128 (2016)
    Full Text | WWW
  • Dissertation: Poor Defenses: The American Legal Profession and the Problem of the "Indigent Accused" in the Twentieth Century, Stanford University, 2016
  • “What Gideon Did,” 116 Columbia Law Review 15 (2016)
    Full Text | SSRN | WWW
  • “Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Before Powell v. Alabama: Lessons from History for the Future of the Right to Counsel,” 99 Iowa Law Review 2161 (symposium contribution, 2014). Cited by the Iowa Supreme Court in State v. Young (April 3, 2015)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • “The Origins of Back-end Sentencing in California,” 22 Stanford Law & Policy Review 529 (2011)
    Full Text | WWW
  • “The Case of the Black-Gloved Rapist: Defining the Public Defender in the California Courts, 1913-1948,” 5 California Legal History 217 (2010)
    Full Text | WWW