Nationally respected criminal justice scholar Pamela R. Metzger has been named director of SMU Dedman School of Law’s new Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center.
Beginning July 1st, Metzer will oversee the new center’s independent research and its development of educational opportunities focused on issues ranging from wrongful convictions to over-incarceration.
“We are delighted to welcome Professor Metzger to our law faculty,” says Jennifer Collins, Judge James Noel Dean and Professor of Law at SMU Dedman School of Law. “Her extraordinary experience and path-breaking scholarship, combined with her dedication to criminal justice reform, makes her the perfect candidate to lead the Deason Center.”
Metzger is known for her work in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Metzger worked to help 8,000 indigent defendants left incarcerated without legal representation after the hurricane. Her work caught national attention and was portrayed in the 2012-2013 HBO series “Treme.”
“I saw one episode and couldn’t watch anymore, it was too painful,” she says. “But personally, the work I did after Katrina represents the finest work I’ve ever been able to do. To have been given the chance to completely reimagine a criminal justice system – how many times does that happen? If you’re lucky, you get such a calling once in a lifetime,” Metzger says. “With the Deason Center, I feel like I’ve been given that chance twice – and I’m immensely grateful.”
Metzger’s work is a combination of theory and practice in seeking improvements in criminal justice. Metzger credits her work in private criminal practice in New York City for feeding her interest in the disconnect between constitutional doctrine and real-world practices.
Metzger earned a bachelor’s with honors from Dartmouth College in 1987. Her time spent there focusing on feminist theory prompted her extensive engagement in social action. She then went on to earn a J.D., cum laude from New York University School of Law in 1991. After working in private criminal practice in New York City, Metzger went on to teaching positions at Fordham University School of Law, Washington and Lee School of Law, and most recently Tulane University School of Law.