Cognitive shortcuts such as racial categories, stereotypes, and stock stories can contribute to biased legal analysis, including determinations of reasonable suspicion under the Fourth Amendment. Professor Sherri Lee Keene will explore the often unacknowledged effect of cognitive shortcuts and how advocates should prepare to meet the challenge of representing clients when legal standards may not account for the role of implicit bias in the legal process.
Sherri Lee Keene has been a member of the full-time faculty at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law since 2008. She serves currently as a Law School Associate Professor and as the Director of the Legal Writing Program. Prof. Keene was a Visiting Associate Professor of Legal Practice at Georgetown University Law Center from 2017 to 2018 and served as an adjunct legal writing professor at the George Washington University School of Law prior to joining Maryland’s faculty. Prof. Keene is an active member of the national legal writing professor community, and she currently serves as an associate editor for the peer review journal, Legal Communication & Rhetoric: JALWD. She has also served as a planning chair for national and regional legal writing conferences.
Immediately prior to joining the University of Maryland faculty, Prof. Keene litigated appeals and motions in the Fourth Circuit and District of Maryland courts as a staff attorney for the Federal Public Defender's Office. Ms. Keene also worked as an associate for Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison in New York City, and worked as a civil trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C. Immediately upon completing law school, Prof. Keene clerked for the Honorable James T. Giles of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Prof. Keene writes in the areas of legal advocacy, criminal law, and law school reform. Her particular interests are at the intersection of criminal law and social science, and she considers the relationship between how people process information and their perceptions of observed events. She further considers how seemingly neutral legal structures can mask biased thinking, rather than afford opportunities for them to be addressed in the courtroom. Her articles include “Stories That Swim Upstream: Uncovering the Influence of Stereotypes and Stock Stories in Fourth Amendment Reasonable Suspicion Analysis” and “Standing in the Judge’s Shoes: Exploring Techniques to Help Legal Writers More Fully Address the Needs of Their Audience.”
Prof. Keene received her law degree from New York University School of Law which she attended as a Root-Tilden Scholar. She graduated summa cum laude from Spelman College with a B.A. in Sociology.