Gerald F. Leonard

Professor of Law

Law Alumni Scholar

AB, Oberlin College
PhD in History, University of Michigan
JD magna cum laude, University of Michigan

Areas of Interest
Constitutional Law, Criminal Law & Procedure, Legal History

Gerald Leonard is a leading historian of American constitutionalism. His first book, The Invention of Party Politics: Federalism, Popular Sovereignty, and Constitutional Development in Jacksonian Illinois (University of North Carolina Press, 2002) helped launch the “constitutional politics” or “popular constitutionalism” approach to American constitutional history. His other writings have offered reevaluations of the Dred Scott case, Thomas Jefferson’s constitutional thought, Oliver Wendell Holmes’s philosophies of constitutional and criminal law, and the history of American approaches to substantive criminal law. He is co-editor of the pamphlet series New Essays on American Constitutional History for the American Historical Association. Professor Leonard also writes about contemporary criminal law, challenging conventional views about mistake of law and about federal sentencing, among other things.

A faculty member since 2003, and Law Alumni Scholar since 2007, Professor Leonard served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 2006 to 2009. Before coming to BU, Professor Leonard clerked for the Honorable David Souter of the United States Supreme Court and for the honorable J. Dickson Phillips, Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

  1. Gerald Leonard & Saul Cornell, The Rise and Fall of the Federalist Constitution, Cambridge University Press (forthcoming).
  2. Gerald Leonard, "Fletcher v. Peck and Constitutional Development in the Early United States," 47 U. C. Davis Law Review 1843 (2014).
  3. Gerald Leonard, "Jefferson's Constitutions," in Constitutions and the Classics: Patterns of Constitutional Thought from Fortescue to Bentham 369, D. J. Galligan, ed., Oxford University Press (2014). SSRN | Scholarly Commons
  4. Gerald Leonard & Christine Dieter, "Punishment Without Conviction: Controlling the Use of Unconvicted Conduct in Federal Sentencing," 17 Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law 260 (2012).
    SSRN | HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline | Scholarly Commons
  5. Gerald Leonard, "Law and Politics Reconsidered: A New Constitutional History of Dred Scott," 34 Law and Social Inquiry (2009). [Unabridged version (2009)]
    Westlaw | SSRN | Lexis Advance
  6. Gerald Leonard, New Essays on American Constitutional History, Gerald Leonard & Keith Whittington, eds., American Historical Association (2009-14). [series editor -seven pamphlets]
  7. Gerald Leonard, "Some Reasons Why Criminal Harms Matter," in Criminal Law Conversations 153, Paul H. Robinson, Kimberley Kessler Ferzan & Stephen P. Garvey, eds., Oxford University Press (2009).
  8. Gerald Leonard & Saul Cornell, "The Consolidation of the Early Federal System, 1791-1812," in The Cambridge History of Law in America 518, C. Tomlins & M. Grossberg, eds., Cambridge University Press (2008).
  9. Gerald Leonard, "Civilizing Darwin: Holmes on Criminal Law," in Modern Histories of Crime and Punishment 198, M. Dubber & L. Farmer, eds., Stanford University Press (2007).
  10. Gerald Leonard, "Iredell Reclaimed: Farewell to Snowiss's History of Judicial Review," 81 Chicago-Kent Law Review 867 (2006).
    Westlaw | SSRN | Lexis Advance | HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline
  11. Gerald Leonard, "Holmes on the Lochner Court," 85 Boston University Law Review 1001 (2005).
    Westlaw | SSRN | Lexis Advance | HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline
  12. Gerald Leonard, "Towards a Legal History of American Criminal Theory: Culture and Doctrine from Blackstone to the Model Penal Code," 6 Buffalo Criminal Law Review 691 (2003).
    Westlaw | SSRN | Lexis Advance | HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline
  13. Gerald Leonard, The Invention of Party Politics: Federalism, Popular Sovereignty, and Constitutional Development in Jacksonian Illinois, University of North Carolina Press (2002).
  14. Gerald Leonard, "Party as a 'Political Safeguard of Federalism': Martin Van Buren and the Constitutional Theory of Party Politics," 54 Rutgers Law Review 221 (2001).
    Westlaw | SSRN | Lexis Advance | HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline
  15. Gerald Leonard, "Rape, Murder, and Formalism: What Happens If We Define Mistake of Law?" 72 University of Colorado Law Review 507 (2001).
    Westlaw | SSRN | Lexis Advance | HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline
  16. Gerald Leonard, "Comment on Frederick Schauer's Prediction and Particularity," 78 Boston University Law Review 931 (1998).
    Westlaw | Lexis Advance | HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline
  17. Gerald Leonard, "Federal Law and Athletic Eligibility for Students with Disabilities," 27 School Law Bulletin 1 (1996).
  18. Gerald Leonard, "The Ironies of Partyism and Antipartyism: Origins of Partisan Political Culture in Jacksonian Illinois," 87 Illinois Historical Journal (Spring 1994).
  19. Gerald Leonard, Partisan Political Theory and the Unwritten Constitution: The Origins of Democracy in Illinois, 1818-1840, University of Michigan (1992). [Ph.D. dissertation]

3 credits

This seminar will critically examine selected issues in the practice of American criminal justice. Topics may include a selection from the following list: racial dimensions of policing, prosecution, and incarceration; family and community impact of criminal justice policies and practices; the capacity of the poor to find justice in the criminal system; police violence and culture; sentencing law and practice; plea bargaining; prosecutorial discretion; police discretion; drug law and policy (including mandatory minimums and the war on drugs); prisoners' rights; solitary confinement; cruel and unusual punishment (including sentences of life without parole); prison violence/rape; racial segregation in prison; prison overcrowding; privatization of prisons; alternatives to prison. We may also look at comparisons with criminal justice systems in other countries and avenues for reform. Students will make presentations to the group and execute substantial written assignments. GRADING NOTICE: This class will not offer the CR/NC/H option. LIMITED WRITING REQUIREMENT: A limited number of students may elect to use this course to fulfill the upper-class writing requirement. ** A student who fails to attend the initial meeting of a seminar, or to obtain permission to be absent from either the instructor or the Registrar, will be administratively dropped from the seminar. Students who waitlist for a seminar are required to attend the first seminar meeting to be considered for enrollment.

FALL 2018: LAW JD 811 A1 , Sep 5th to Dec 12th 2018
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Wed 10:40 am 12:40 pm 3 Gerald F. Leonard

3 credits

This course examines the procedures and institutions involved in adjudicating the fate of an accused after arrest. Topics include such matters as the right to counsel, charging by grand jury and otherwise, prosecutorial discretion and plea bargaining, discovery, double jeopardy, trial practice (including the right to a jury trial, the right to confront witnesses, the meaning of "proof beyond a reasonable doubt", etc.), evolving practices in sentencing, and criminal appeals. RESTRICTIONS: Enrollment is limited to students who have not taken and are not currently enrolled in Rossman's Criminal Procedure (JD 819). Students who have taken or who are enrolled in Maclin's Criminal Procedure (JD 821) are permitted to take this course. OFFERING PATTERN: This class is not offered every year. Students are advised to take this into account when planning their long-term schedule.

SPRG 2018: LAW JD 820 A1 , Jan 17th to Apr 25th 2018
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Mon,Wed 10:45 am 12:10 pm 3 Gerald F. Leonard LAW
SPRG 2019: LAW JD 820 A1 , Jan 14th to Apr 24th 2019
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Mon,Wed 10:45 am 12:10 pm 3 Gerald F. Leonard
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