Stephanos Bibas

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Stephanos Bibas, professor of law and criminology at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, is a leading scholar of criminal procedure with expertise in criminal charging, plea bargaining and sentencing. A former federal prosecutor, Bibas examines how procedural rules written for jury trials have unintended consequences when cases involving jury trials are the exception, rather than the rule, with 95 percent of defendants pleading guilty. Bibas also studies the role of substantive goals such as remorse and apology in criminal procedure.


Bibas holds a J.D. from Yale Law School (1994), a B.A. and M.A. in jurisprudence from Oxford University (1991), and a B.A. in political theory summa cum laude from Columbia University (1989).[1]

Early life[edit]

Bibas was born in New York City and spent his summers growing up working in his father's restaurants. Starting in high school, he became involved in debate and public speaking. He continued to develop his debate skills through the Philolexian Society and Parliamentary Debate at Columbia University and at Oxford University, where he won the 1st place speaker award in the World Debate Championships. At Yale Law School, he joined the moot court and was awarded prizes for the best oralist and best team, and also served as a symposium editor on the Yale Law Journal.[2]

Professional career[edit]

Since 2006, Bibas has been a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He received the Robert A. Gorman Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2008. Bibas previously taught at the University of Chicago Law School and the University of Iowa College of Law and was a research fellow at Yale Law School.[3]

Before beginning his academic career, Bibas was a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, where he successfully prosecuted the world's leading expert in Tiffany stained glass for hiring a grave robber to steal priceless Tiffany windows from cemeteries.[4]

Early in his career, Bibas clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy (1997–1998) and Judge Patrick Higginbotham of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (1994–1995), and was litigation associate at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C.[5]

Supreme Court Clinic[edit]

Bibas also directs Penn Law's Supreme Court clinic, for which he litigates a wide range of appellate cases under consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Clinic allows students to assist on real Supreme Court cases, including recruiting, strategizing, researching, writing briefs, participating in moot court rehearsals, and attending oral arguments at the Court itself. The Court appointed him to brief and argue Tapia v. United States as amicus curiae.[6] The Court praised Bibas and the Clinic for doing “an exceptionally good job"[7] on that case.

Cases Argued

Representative Publications[edit]

The Supreme Court, 2011 Term--Comment: Incompetent Plea Bargaining and Extrajudicial Reforms, 126 Harv. L. Rev. 150 (2012): assessing the Supreme Court's recent plea-bargaining jurisprudence and predicting how judicial rulings will likely spur nonjudicial actors to better regulate plea bargaining.

The Machinery of Criminal Justice (Oxford Univ. Press, 2012): book about how criminal justice has moved from a lay-driven public morality play to a hidden, amoral, lawyer-run, plea-bargaining assembly line; what the U.S. has lost in its quest for efficiency; and how the nation could swing the pendulum partway back toward greater transparency and public involvement.

Plea Bargaining Outside the Shadow of Trial (117 Harv.L.Rev.2463 (2004))[1]: explores the agency costs, structural forces, and psychological biases that cause plea bargaining to deviate from expected trial outcomes.

Integrating Remorse and Apology into Criminal Procedure (114 YaleL.J. 85 (2004))[2], coauthored with Richard A. Bierschbach: advocates reforming criminal procedure to encourage more remorse, apology, and reconciliation.

Prosecutorial Regulation Versus Prosecutorial Accountability (157 U.Pa.L.Rev. 959 (2009))[3]: explores the difficulties with external regulation of prosecutors by legislatures, judges, and bar authorities, and instead proposes ways to make head prosecutors more accountable to the public and to reform the inner workings of prosecutors' offices.


External links[edit]