Joseph E. Kennedy

Print This Page (PDF) Martha Brandis Term Professor of Law


  • J.D., University of California at Los Angeles (1987)
  • B.A. (honors), Stanford University (1982)

Joseph Kennedy is a Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he has taught Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure Investigation, Computer Crime Law, Criminal Justice Policy, Constitutional Law, and International and Comparative Criminal Law. Kennedy taught International Law and Intellectual Property at Northwest University in Xi'an, China during the spring semester of 2012 on a Fulbright Lecture Award.  Kennedy  served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at UNC Law School for the 2005-06 academic year.

Professor Kennedy's research interests include the sociology and politics of mass incarceration, criminal law, and cybersecurity law.  He is the author of "Criminal Law: Cases, Controversies and Problems" and "A Short & Happy Guide to Criminal Law" by West Academic Publishing.  Professor Kennedy's scholarly writings have been published in the Georgetown Law Journal, Michigan Law Review, Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, the Journal of Law and Contemporary Problems, Emory Law Journal and U.C. Davis Law Review. His article, Monstrous Offenders and the Search for Solidarity Through Modern Punishment, was selected for publication in Criminal Law Conversations, a collection of seminal criminal law articles published in 2009 by Oxford University Press. His article on the connection between mental states in regulatory crimes and the federal sentencing guidelines was selected as best criminal law paper for the Stanford Yale Junior Faculty forum in 2002, and he was the recipient of a Pogue Research Leave at UNC in 2003 and an Ethics Fellowship at UNC's Institute of Arts and Humanities in 2004. He has presented his scholarly work at Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School, Yale Law School, the University College Dublin and the Annual Meetings of the Association of American Law Schools, Law and Society, the American Society of Criminology and the International Congress of Law and Mental Health. His chapter on the Supreme Court's decision in U.S. v. Staples appears in Foundation Press's book, Criminal Law Stories.  Kennedy is currently at work on a book on the cultural and political roots of mass incarceration in the United States for Oxford University Press.

Kennedy also comments regularly on criminal justice and ethical issues of public concern. He has published opinion editorials with Slate Magazine and the Raleigh News and Observer. He has appeared as a media commentator on CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, Fox Weekend Live, National Public Radio, Court TV and a number of local radio and television stations. He also lectures on ethical issues and is a Fellow at UNC's Parr Center for Ethics.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Selected Publications

Show All Publications

  • Sharks and Minnows in the War on Drugs: A Study of Quantity, Race and Drug Arrests (with I. Unah), 52 U.C. DAVIS L. REV. 729 (2018). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, SSRN, Hein, BEPress, Document Link (PDF)]
  • A SHORT & HAPPY GUIDE TO CRIMINAL LAW (West Acad. Pub., 2016). [KF9219.85 .K46 2016]
  • The Drug War and the Parable of the Bad Samaritan, 18 WASH. & LEE J. CIVIL RTS. & SOC. JUST. 73 (2011). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein]
  • The Story of Staples v. United States and the Innocent Machine Gun Owner:  The Good, the Bad, and the Dangerous (2010). [SSRN]
  • The Jena Six, Mass Incarceration, and the Remoralization of Civil Rights, 44 HARV. C.R.-C.L. L. REV. 477 (2009). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, SSRN, Hein, BEPress]
  • Book Review Facing Evil (reviewing Lynn S. Chance, HIGH-PROFILE CRIMES: WHEN LEGAL CASES BECOME SOCIAL CAUSES (2005), and David Schmidt, NATURAL BORN CELEBRITIES: SERIAL KILLERS IN AMERICAN CULTURE (2005)), 104 MICH. L. REV. 1287 (2006). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, SSRN, Hein, BEPress]
  • Cautious Liberalism, 94 GEO. L.J. 1537 (2006). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, SSRN, Hein]
  • Drug Wars in Black and White, (The New Data: Over-Representation of Minorities in the Criminal Justice System), 66 LAW & CONTEMP. PROBS 153 (2003). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein, BEPress]
  • Monstrous Offenders and the Search for Solidarity Through Modern Punishment, 51 HASTINGS L.J. 829 (2000). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein]
UNC School of Law | Van Hecke-Wettach Hall | 160 Ridge Road, CB #3380 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380 | 919.962.5106 | Accessibility

If you are seeing this, you are either using a non-graphical browser or Netscape 4.x (4.7, 4.8, etc.) and this page appears very plain. If you are using a 4.x version of Netscape, this site is fully functional but lacks styles and optimizations available in other browsers. For full functionality, please upgrade your browser to the latest version of Internet Explorer or Firefox.