Sullivan Hall 412
(206) 398-4159


B.A., Brown University, 1994
M.P.P., Harvard University, 1996
J.D., magna cum laude, New York University School of Law, 2000
NYU Law Review senior articles editor


Criminal Law & Procedure
Sentencing and Plea Bargaining

Deborah Ahrens

Associate Professor of Law

Curriculum VitaePDF


Deborah Ahrens is a tenured Associate Professor who teaches and writes about criminal law, criminal procedure, and evidence. Before joining the faculty at Seattle University, Professor Ahrens served as a law clerk for Judge Amalya Kearse of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, a legal fellow at the ACLU's Drug Policy Litigation Project, an Assistant Public Defender at the Richland County (South Carolina) Public Defender, and a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at the University of South Carolina School of Law. She earned an AB in Public Policy from Brown University, a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and her JD Magna Cum Laude from New York University, where she was the senior articles editor of the Law Review.

Professor Ahrens' scholarship focuses on the cultural significance of contemporary policing practices and criminal sanctioning regimes, with particular emphasis on drug policy and on the regulation of student speech and conduct. Her articles have appeared in a variety of journals including the American Criminal Law Review, the Florida State Law Review, and the Missouri Law Review. Her current research focuses on the Supreme Court's recent embrace of a broader understanding of the role of the criminal defense attorney in its criminal procedure decisions, on the rise of school uniforms and restrictive student dress codes, and on some of the unexplored frontiers in the legal regulation of alternative criminal sanctions. She is highly regarded teacher who was voted Professor of the Year by the May 2014 graduating class and a frequent speaker at academic and professional events on a wide variety of criminal procedure, evidence, and sentencing issues.

Recent Activity

Seattle could outlaw some police interrogation tricks

May 04, 2017
Professor Deborah Ahrens explains how coercive interrogation techniques can lead to false confessions.

Will Seattle's drug policy experiments survive Trump?

December 03, 2016
Professor Deborah Ahrens speculates on marijuana legalization and safe consumption sites.

SPU Shooting Trial: Compromise of Jurors' IDs Could Have Resulted In Mistrial

November 03, 2016
Professor Deborah Ahrens explains why it's so important to protect jurors' identities.

Why Pleading 'Not Guilty By Reason Of Insanity' Is Rarely Effective

January 20, 2015
Professor Deborah Ahrens explains that the insanity defense is more popular on TV and in movies than in reality.