Professor Kay Levine is a professor of law at Emory University School of Law. She is an empirical scholar who examines how criminal law works in the real world, with an emphasis on state courts in the United States. Her research focuses in particular on how prosecutors make decisions in their cases; interpret ethical rules; structure relationships with victims, judges, and defense attorneys; and think about their careers, all across a wide range of specialties (such as drug crimes and sex crimes). Her courses and curricular interests include Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure (both Police Investigations and Adjudication), Victimless Crimes, and the Colloquium Series Workshop.
Levine is writing a book titled The Inside World of Prosecution, in conjunction with Professor Ron Wright of Wake Forest University Law School. This work stems from their years of empirical research with approximately 270 prosecutors in state courts in the American Southeast and Southwest. The project offers a highly nuanced perspective on the job of prosecution in the 21st century – it examines the influences of office structure, leadership, and culture on prosecutorial decision-making, morale, and career mindsets. Levine also is researching drug enforcement patterns in Fulton County, Georgia, as part of a multidisciplinary project funded by the National Science Foundation. In that project, titled Race, Place and Discretion, the authors are exploring various legal actors’ understanding of, and willingness to use, drug-free zone laws to impact drug selling activity in the county. The project includes review of thousands of court cases, as well as interviews with prosecutors, defense attorneys, police officers, judges, and active offenders in the criminal court community.
Levine’s prior research about prosecutorial behavior has appeared in numerous law reviews and peer-reviewed journals, including the Emory Law Journal, the Wake Forest University Law Review, Law and Social Inquiry, the Fordham Urban Law Journal, the Arizona Law Review, and Studies in Law, Politics and Society. It has also appeared in specialty criminal law journals such as The Stanford Journal of Criminal Law and Policy, the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, The American Criminal Law Review, the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, and the Virginia Journal of Criminal Law.
Levine joined the Emory faculty in 2003. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Duke University and received her JD from the University of California-Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, where she served as an editor on the Berkeley Women’s Law Journal. She later earned both a master’s degree and a PhD in jurisprudence and social policy from UC Berkeley. Before joining Emory, Levine served as a law clerk for the Honorable David Alan Ezra, US District Court, District of Hawaii; as a deputy district attorney in Riverside County, California; as a criminal defense consultant; and as an adjunct faculty member of Boalt Hall. Since joining Emory, she has earned both the Most Outstanding Professor Award and the Emory Williams Teaching Award.