Dr Sarah Cooper

Sarah Cooper Staff Profile Picture 2017 100x150

Senior Lecturer in Law

School of Law
+44 (0)121 331 6248

Dr Sarah Cooper is a Senior Lecturer in Law and Director of Mooting. Sarah leads Criminal Law on the LLB and carries out her research in the Centre for American Legal Studies. She co-teaches American Criminal Procedure and American Legal Practice – the Law School’s unique American Internship Programme.

Sarah is a barrister and Lord Denning Scholar of the Bar of England and Wales. Before joining the University she worked as a research assistant at the Community Relations Trust of Jersey, interned for a leading Arizona law firm and federal capital defence in California. She joined the University in 2009.

She has been a pro bono academic for Amicus since 2007. Since 2010, Sarah has been a Fellow at the Arizona Justice Project - a non-profit organisation that considers claims of "innocence" and "manifest injustice" from Arizona inmates - at Arizona State University. In that time, she has worked on multiple post-conviction relief and clemency petitions, grappling with issues surrounding forensic science, medical science, confessions and disproportionate sentencing. She spends time in the USA working on these issues every year.

Sarah has published and presented her scholarship in Europe and the USA, and was shortlisted for Birmingham Law Society’s 2012 Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award, and the Bar Pro Bono Unit’s Sydney Elland Justice Award. In 2014, she was shortlisted for the ‘Academic of the Year’ Extra Mile Award. In 2014 and 2015 she was nominated for LawCareers.Net’s Law Lecturer of the Year Award. Her research has been widely cited in America, including by state supreme courts and in high profile cases. Her first edited collection – – was highly praised by the Founders of the American Innocence Movement, Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld.

Sarah holds a LL.B, BVC, PgCert for teaching, postgraduate qualification in international justice from the University of London, and is currently finalising her PhD, which examines the influence on legal process theory on American judges adjudicating issues relating to scientific developments.

Areas of Expertise
  • Science and law
  • American criminal procedure
  • Wrongful convictions
  • Clemency
  • Member, Faculty Research Degrees Committee, Birmingham City University, 2014-present
  • Member, Faculty Ethics Committee, Birmingham City University, 2014-present.
  • Expert, UK Expert Panel on the Death Penalty, 2015 –present
  • Associate Editor, British Journal of American Legal Studies, 2012- present.
  • Fellow, The Arizona Justice Project, 2010 - present (volunteer 2007-2010)
  • Training Programme Lecturer, Amicus, 2007 – present
  • Lord Denning Scholar, The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn
  • American Criminal Procedure and Evidence
  • American Legal Practice
  • English Criminal Law
  • Scientific developments
  • Clemency
  • The legal process


Cooper, Sarah Lucy and McArdle, Scarlett (2017) Preparing to Moot: A step-by-step guide to mooting. Routledge. ISBN 9781138853157 (In Press)

Firearms Identification Evidence: Emerging Themes from Recent Criticism, Research and Case Law, (forthcoming book chapter in Inside Forensic Reform: Protecting the Innocent)

Scientific Developments and Judicial Decision-making in the Era of Innocence: The Influence of Legal Process Theory (forthcoming, Richmond Journal of the Law and Public Interest, 2016).

Challenges to Fingerprint Evidence: Why Courts Need a New Approach to Finality (forthcoming, William Hamline Law Review, 2016).

The State Clemency Power and Innocence Claims: The Influence of Finality and its Implications for Innocents, (forthcoming, Charlotte Law Review, 2016).

Forensic Science Identification Evidence: Tensions Between Law and Science, Volume 16, April 14, 2016, pages 1-35.

Post-Conviction Access to DNA Testing and Clemency as a “Fail-Safe”: The Implications of Judicial Fidelity to the Legal Process Vision 64 Drake L. Rev. 1 (2016)

Judicial Responses to Developments in Forensic Identification Evidence and Newly Discovered Evidence Rules in The United States: The Influence of Finality and Legal Process Theory, 4 British J. Am. Legal Studies 649 (2015)

Cooper, Sarah Lucy (2015) The State Clemency Power and Innocence Claims: The Influence of Finality and its Implications for Innocents. Charlotte Law Review, 51 (1). pp. 51-110

The Innocence Movement and the Death Penalty in America: Overcoming Assumptions, Amicus Legal Journal, Spring Issue, 2015.

Judicial Responses to Challenges to Firearms Identification Evidence: A Need for New Perspectives on Finality 31 T.M. Cooley L. Rev. 457 (2014).

The Controversy of Clemency and Innocence in America, 51 Cal. W. L. Rev. 55 (2014).

Innocence Commissions in America -- Ten Years After, Controversies in Innocence Cases in America, Ed. Sarah L. Cooper, Ashgate Publishing Ltd (2014).

The Collision of Law and Science: American Court Responses to Developments in Forensic Science, 33 PACE L. REV. 234 (2013).

When Science Changes, How Does Law Respond? Encyclopedia of Forensic Science (Jay A. Siegel, Geoffrey C. Knupfer and Pekka J. Saukko, eds., 2d ed., Elsevier) (2012)

A Review of the Concurrent Debates over Same-sex Marriage in the United States and the Council of Europe, 5 Phoenix L. Rev. 39. (2012).

Marriage, Family, Discrimination and Contradiction: The Legacy and Future of the ECtHR’s jurisprudence on LGBT Rights, German Law Journal, Volume 12, No. 9, 2011.

Inheritance Rights & Human Rights for Children Born Outside of Wedlock in Jersey– The Event Horizon J.G.L.R. 2010, 14(2), 192-207.

Ray M. Krone: Once Bitten Twice Convicted, 20, The Amicus Legal Journal, 32-37, 2009.

Selected research presentations

Judicial Decision-Making in the United States in the Era of Innocence: The Influence of Legal Process Theory and its Implications, Legal Theory Seminar Series, Edinburgh Law School, Scotland.

Judicial Responses to Developments in Firearms Identification Evidence and Newly Discovered Evidence Rules in The United States: The Influence of Finality and Legal Process Theory, Queen Mary, University of London, PGR Conference, June, 2015.

Forensics, Firearms and Finality, Western Society of Criminology Annual Conference, Phoenix, Arizona, USA, February, 2015.

Innocence Controversies in American Death Penalty Cases, Wrongful conviction and the death penalty: the inevitability of error? University of Oxford Symposium, November, 2014.

Judicial Responses to Challenges to Firearms Identification Evidence in the United States: A Need for New Perspectives on Finality, North East Crime Research Network Conference, November 3, 2014.

Developments in Forensic Evidence and Newly Discovered Evidence Rules in the United States: Judicial Responses, Society of Legal Scholars Annual Conference, 2014.

An Introduction to Criminal Law, Everest College, Phoenix, Arizona, April, 2014

Communicating Clemency Applications Effectively, Criminal Justice Communications Class, Everest College, Phoenix, Arizona, August, 2014

Clemency: The Most Important Decision in the American Criminal Justice System? Decision-Making and Criminal Justice: National and International Trends on 7 May 2014 Durham Law School, Centre for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice.

Controversies in Wrongful Conviction Cases, University of Portsmouth, March, 2014.

Clemency and Innocence: Changes Perceptions in Policy and Law, Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, Philadelphia, USA February, 2014.

International Clinical Legal Placements, Clinical Legal Education Organisation, University of Portsmouth, November, 2013.

Innocence Commissions in America: Past, Present and Future Challenges, University of Liverpool's International Postgraduate Legal Conference, July, 2013.

The Collision of Law and Science: How do American Courts Respond to Developments in Forensic Science? Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, New York City, USA, 2012

Using Developments in Law and Science to Re-examine Evidential Issues in Post-Conviction Claims of Innocence in the United States, Socio-Legal Studies Conference April 12-13 2011 University of Sussex. 

Links and Social Media

Sarah’s Twitter: @sarahlucycoope1