Charles J. Ogletree, Jr.

Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Harvard Law School Professor and one of the country’s preeminent legal theorists. With over thirty years of experience as a litigator, educator, and author, Professor Ogletree has an international reputation and is renowned for his devotion to Constitutional rights and criminal justice issues.

Professor Ogletree began his legal career as a staff attorney in the District of Columbia Public Defender Service. He was appointed to serve as Training Director, Trial Chief, and Deputy Director of the Service before entering private practice in 1985. Over the course of his career, he has represented a wide variety of clients, ranging from high-profile figures, including Anita Hill, Tupac Shakur, and Professor Henry Louis Gates, to indigent criminal defendants. As an attorney, Professor Ogletree is well-known for his strong dedication to his clients, his tenacious attention to detail, and his eloquence in the courtroom.

Throughout his career, Professor Ogletree has demonstrated a strong commitment to higher education. In 1985 he accepted an appointment at Harvard Law School, where he is currently the Jesse Climenko Professor of Law and the Founding and Executive Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice. He has also served as Faculty Director, Associate Dean, and Vice Dean of the Harvard Law School Clinical Program. Outside the classroom, Professor Ogletree has authored numerous books, articles, and editorials on a range of complex legal issues and appeared as a moderator and commentator on many nationally-televised programs.


Life Without Parole: The New Death Penalty, (Charles J. Ogletree & Austin Sarat, eds., New York University Press 2011-2012)

The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Race, Class, and Crime in America, (Charles J. Ogletree, Palgrave MacMillan Press 2010)

The Road to Abolition: The Future of Capital Punishment in the United States, (Charles J. Ogletree & Austin Sarat eds., New York University Press 2009)

When Law Fails: Making Sense of Miscarriages of Justice, (Charles J. Ogletree & Austin Sarat eds., New York University Press 2009)

From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State: Race and the Death Penalty in America, (Charles J. Ogletree & Austin Sarat eds., New York University Press 2006)

Brown at 50: The Unfinished Legacy, (Deborah L. Rhode & Charles J. Ogletree ed., American Bar Association 2004)

All Deliberate Speed: Reflections on the First Half-Century of Brown v. Board of Education(Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., W.W. Norton & Co. April 2004)

Beyond the Rodney King Story: An Investigation of Police Conduct in Minority Communities(Charles J. Ogletree, Mary Prosser, Abbe Smith, and William Talley, Jr., Northeastern University Press December 1994)

“Barack Obama: Community Organizer,” in America’s Lawyer-Presidents: From the Law Office to Oval Office (Gross, ed.) (2009, updated edition)

“Criminal Decisions: The Rehnquist Revolution,” in The Rehnquist Court (Schwartz, ed.) (2002)

“The Challenge of Race and Education,” in How to Make Black America Better (Smiley, ed.) (2001)

“Privileges and Immunities for Basketball Stars and Other Sport Heroes?” in Basketball Jones(Boyd and Shropshire, eds.) (2000)

“The Tireless Warrior for Racial Justice,” in Reason & Passion: Justice Brennan’s Enduring Influence (Rosenkranz and Schwartz, eds.) (1998)

“Public Defender, Public Friend: Searching for the Best Interests of Juvenile Offenders,” in Law Stories (Bellow and Minow, eds.) (1996)

“Johnnie Cochran and Marcia Clark: Role Models?” in Postmortem: The O.J.Simpson Case(Jeffrey Abramson, ed.) (1996)

“If You Buy the Hat, He Will Come,” in Faith of Our Fathers: African American Men Reflect on Fatherhood (Willis, ed.) (1996)

“The People v. Anita Hill: The Case for Client-Centered Advocacy,” in Race, Gender, and Power in America (Hill and Coleman Jordan, eds.) (1995)

“Blind Justice?: Race, The Constitution, and The Justice System,” in African Americans and The Living Constitution 235 (Franklin and McNeil, eds.) Smithsonian Institute Press (1995)

“Supreme Court Jury Discrimination Cases and State Court Compliance, Resistance and Innovation,” inToward a Usable Past, (Gottlieb and Finkelman, eds.) (1991)

“From Dred Scott to Barack Obama: The Ebb and Flow of Race Jurisprudence,” 25 Harvard Journal on Racial & Ethnic Justice, 1 (2009)

“Commentary: All Deliberate Speed: Reflections on the First Half-Century of Brown vs. Board of Education,” 66 Montana Law Review, 283 (2005)

“All Deliberate Speed?: Brown’s Past and Brown’s Future, 107 West Virginia Law Review, 625 (2005)

“The Current Reparations Debate,” 5 U.C. Davis Law Review, 36 (June 2003)

“Repairing the Past: New Efforts in the Reparations Debate in America,” 2 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, 38 (Summer 2003)

“Reparations for the Children of Slaves: Litigating the Issues,” 2 University of Memphis Law Review, 33 (Winter 2003)

“Black Man’s Burden: Race and the Death Penalty in America,” 1 University of Oregon Law Review, 81 (Fall 2002)

“From Pretoria to Philadelphia: Judge Higginbotham’s Racial Justice Jurisprudence on South Africa and the United States.” 20 Yale Law and Policy Review, 383 (Spring 2002)

“The Challenge of Providing Legal Representation in the United States, South Africa and China,” 7Wash. U.J.L. & Policy 47 (2002)

“Judicial Activism or Judicial Necessity: D.C. Court’s Criminal Justice Legacy,” 90 Georgetown Law Journal, 685 (March 2002)

“A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr.: A Reciprocal Legacy of Scholarship and Advocacy,” 53 (3) Rutgers Law Review, 665 (2001)

“An Ode to St. Peter: Professor Peter M. Cicchino,” 50 American University Law Review 591 (2001)

“America’s Schizophrenic Immigration Policy: Race, Class and Reason,” 41 Boston College Law Review755 (July 2000)

“A Tribute to Gary Bellow: The Visionary Clinical Scholar,” 114 Harvard Law Review 420 (2000)

Attorney News


Harvard Law School, J.D., 1978

Stanford University, M.A. in Political Science, 1975

Stanford University, B.A. (With Distinction) in Political Science, 1974


U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Appeals, First, Tenth, and District of Columbia Circuits
U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
District of Columbia Court of Appeals
New York


American Bar Association
National Conference of Black Lawyers
National Bar Association
American Civil Liberties Union
Association of American Law Schools
The American Law Institute
Bar Association of D.C.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Washington Bar Association
Former Member, Board of Directors, TransAfrica
Former Member, Stanford University Board of Trustees
Former Chair, University of the District of Columbia Board of Trustees
Former Chair, Stanford University Task Force on Minority Alumni Relations
Former National Chair, The Stanford Fund
Former Co-chair, The Cambridge Public Schools Blue Ribbon Guidance Committee
Chair Emeritus, The B.E.L.L. Foundation
Former Reporter, Criminal Justice Act Review Committee (Prado Committee)
Board Member, Concerned Black Men of Cambridge
Chair, Board of Directors, The Southern Center for Human Rights
Co-Chair, Reparations Coordinating Committee
Founding Member and Former President, Harvard Law School Black Alumni Association
Former Member, Board of Directors, National Legal Aid and Defender Association
Founder and Former Board Member, Benjamin Banneker Charter School
Former Board Member, the Kaiser Family Foundation
Former Co-Chair, the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section's Juvenile Justice Committee