Pamela R. Metzger

Professor Pam Metzger

Full-time faculty

Director of the Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center and Professor of Law


Pamela Metzger is the Director of the Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center at SMU Dedman School of Law. She is a nationally recognized expert on the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, public defense, and criminal legal ethics, and her research focuses on combining theory and practice to improve our criminal legal system.

Professor Metzger came to SMU in 2017 from Tulane University School of Law in New Orleans, where she taught for 16 years. From 2001 to 2008 she directed Tulane’s Criminal Litigation Clinic, becoming a leading voice in reforming the criminal justice system in Louisiana. When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, she fought tirelessly to help 8,000 indigent defendants left incarcerated without legal representation.

Professor Metzger oversees the Deason Center’s independent research on the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, criminal legal systems in small, tribal, and rural (STAR) communities, prosecutorial discretion, and early-stage criminal procedure. She has helped secure millions of dollars in funding for the Deason Center to conduct innovative research and amplify compelling stories that promote criminal legal reform.

Professor Metzger’s work has appeared in publications such as the Yale Law Journal, George Washington Law Review, Vanderbilt Law Review, and Southern California Law Review, and has been cited by leading authorities and by the United States Supreme Court.

After receiving her undergraduate degree from Dartmouth and her J.D. from New York University School of Law, Professor Metzger served as an Assistant Federal Defender in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York and worked in private criminal practice in New York City. She was also a visiting law professor at Washington and Lee University, where she directed the Alderson Legal Clinic for Women in Prison.

Areas of Expertise

  • Criminal Law
  • Family Law


B.A., Dartmouth College
J.D.,  cum laude, New York University School of Law


Professional Responsibility
Criminal Law
Criminal Justice Policy Practicum (EL)




Constitutional Outcomes as Measure of Quality in Indigent Defense Systems (in progress).

An Empirical Comparison of Outcomes in Vertical and Horizontal Public Defender Structures (research-in-progress with the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice; funded by The Laura and John Arnold Foundation).

Criminal (Dis)Appearance, 88 George Washington Law Review 392 (2020) (co-authored with Janet Hoeffel).

Confrontation as a Rule of Production, 24 William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 994 (2016)

Defending Data, 88 Southern California Law Review 1057 (2015) (co-authored with Andrew Ferguson) (Selected for plenary presentation at 2013 ABA/AALS Conference on Criminal Justice)

Me and Mr. Jones: A Systems Approach to an Indigent Defense Catastrophe, 78 Albany Law
1261 (2015) (invited paper)

Fear of Adversariness: Using Gideon to Restrict Defendants’ Invocation of Adversary Procedures, 122 Yale Law Journal 2550 (2013) (invited paper)

Confrontation Control, 45 Texas Tech Law Review 83 (2012) (invited paper)

Doing Katrina Time, 81 Tulane Law Review 1175 (2007)

Cheating the Constitution, 59 Vanderbilt Law Review 475 (2006)

Beyond the Bright Line: A Contemporary Right To Counsel Doctrine, 97 Northwestern University Law Review 1635 (2003)

Trustees’ Confidential Report Concerning Health Care Fraud: Investigation, Detection
and Solutions (Report of internal investigation) (1999)

AIDS and the Federal Criminal Defendant, THE DEFENDER, Vol. XIII, No. 1, (1993)

A Beginner’s Guide To Feminist Theory, Senior Fellowship project, Dartmouth College
(1987) (chapters of this work are used to teach Women’s Studies courses at Dartmouth).


Igniting Change, Expanding the Movement: A Roundtable and Idea Lab on Indigent Defense and Criminal Justice Reform, Invited Expert, Washington, DC
(November 2019)

Legal Services for the Indigent: Rural Defense, Discussant, American Society of Criminology, Atlanta, GA
(November 2019)

Criminal (Dis)Appearance, Presenter, American Society of Criminology, Atlanta, GA
(November 2019)

Technology and Rural Criminal Justice, National Association for Justice Information Systems, Invited Lecturer, Baltimore, MD
(October 2019)

Evidence-Based Thinking from Arrest to Sentence: The Future of Criminal Justice Research, Invited Discussant, A2J (Access to Justice Lab Workshop) Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA
(May 2019)

Criminal Justice Research: Strategies and Initiatives for Building Research Centers, Invited Panelist, Thurgood Marshall College Fund & Center for Advancing Opportunity, Washington, DC
(April 2019)

Criminal (Dis)Appearance, Workshop, Tulane University Law School, New Orleans, LA
(April 2019)

Awake, Engaged and Responding to the Call for a New Social Structure: A Conversation About Legal Academia, Advocacy, Direct Action and Attrition, Panelist, AALS Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA
(January 2019)

Criminal Justice and Dispute Resolution: Transparency, Metrics and Empirical Research, Invited Speaker, Texas A& M School of Law, Fort Worth, TX
(November 2018)

The Power of Data to Improve Criminal Justice Policy and Public Defense, Invited Speaker, Public Policy Research Institute, Texas A & M, College Station, TX
(November 2018)

Quality Metrics in Indigent Defense, Paper Presentation, American Society of Criminology, Atlanta, GA
(November 2018)

Criminal Justice Reform: The New Civil Rights Movement, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
(September 2018)

Emerging Conflicts in Public Defense, Panelist, ABA Annual Summit on Public Defense, Chicago, IL
(April 2018)

Research and Data in Indigent Defense, Speaker, ABA Roundtable on Public
Defense (by invitation only), Chicago, IL
(April 2018)

Day of Empathy, Moderator, It's Criminal (Movie and Discussion), Dallas TX
(March 2018)

Happy Hour with An Agenda: The Future of Criminal Justice in Dallas, Moderator,
D Magazine, Dallas, TX
(February 2018)

Collective Gideon, Panelist, Eighth Annual Legal Ethics and Professionalism Symposium: Conflicts of Interest in Multi-party Litigation, University of Georgia Law School, Athens, GA
(February 2018)

Ethics for Defenders, Speaker, Winning Strategies Program, Administrative Office
of Courts, Federal Defender Training, New Orleans, LA
(January 2018)

Criminal Justice Issues, Plenary Panel, ClassCrit Conference, New Orleans, LA
(November 2017)

The Right to an Attorney: Ensuring Due Process for All Defendants, Panelist: Advancing Justice Conference, Washington, D.C.
(October 2017)

Why Defenders Need Data, Plenary Speaker, Kansas FPD Annual Training
Conference, Lawrence, KA
(October 2017)

Unlikely Allies, Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center at the SMU Dedman School of Law, Dallas, TX
(August 2017)

Ethics for the Federal Criminal Defense Team, Defender Services Training
Conference, New Orleans, LA
(July 2017)

Criminal Defense Resilience, King County Office of the Public Defender, Seattle, WA
(July 2017)

A Preliminary Assessment of Mindfulness Training for Criminal Law Stakeholders,
Annual Conference of American Psychology-Law Society, Seattle WA
(March 2017)

Defining Quality, Choosing Metrics, American Society of Criminology, New Orleans, LA
(November 2016).

Junior-Senior Faculty Workshop, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
(October 2016).

Ethics Panel
Federal Bar Association Annual Conference on Immigration, New Orleans, LA 
(May 2016)

NLADA Defender Research Consortium
Baltimore, MD (December 2015)

Measuring Quality in Prosecution
University of Pennsylvania Law School,
Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice
(November 2015)

Confrontation as a Rule of Production
Vanderbilt Law School Scholarship Roundtable, Nashville, TN
(November 2015)

Measuring Quality in the Delivery of Indigent Defense Services
American Society of Criminology, Washington, DC
(November 2015)

Ethical Issues in Corporate Practice
Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel
(September 2015)

Data-Driven Indigent Defense
Washington Defender Association
(April 2015)

Defining Quality in Indigent Defense
University of Pennsylvania Law School
Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice
(March 2015)

Defending Data
National Institute of Justice’s Working Group on Indigent Defense
(March 2015) (by invitation)

Defending Data (plenary presentation)
AALS Section on Criminal Justice and
ABA Section on Criminal Justice for Legal Educators, Judges, Practitioners, and Prosecutors
San Diego, CA (2013)

Fear of Adversariness
Yale Law Review Symposium on the 50th Anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright
(2013) (by invitation)

Fifty Years of Gideon in New Orleans
Symposium on Indigent Defense
New Orleans, LA (2013)