Donna Coker

Professor of Law & Dean's Distinguished Scholar, and Social Justice/Public Interest Concentration Affiliated Faculty

J.D. 1991, Stanford Law School
M.S.W. 1982, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
B.S.W. 1978, Harding University

donna coker
Phone: (305)284-3041
Office: G383

Professor Donna Coker teaches Evidence; Substantive Criminal Law; Gender Violence and Social Justice; Social Justice Lawyering; Restorative Justice and Law; Mass Incarceration: Causes, Consequences, and Remedies; and Criminal Justice Policy Reform. She has twice received a Provost’s Research Award (2017, 2021). Students awarded her the Hausler Golden Apple teaching award in 2015. Professor Coker served as Academic Associate Dean from 2005-2009.

Professor Coker’s scholarship focuses on criminal law, gender, and race inequality. She is a nationally recognized expert in intimate partner violence (IPV) law and policy. Her research concerns the connection between economic vulnerability and IPV; restorative justice responses to IPV and sexual harm; and the intersections of gender and race subordination in criminal law doctrine, policy, and application. Her research is interdisciplinary and influenced by scholarship in critical race feminism, restorative justice, public health, and criminology.

Professor Coker is a leading critic of the disproportionate focus on criminal justice responses that characterizes U.S. IPV policy. Her widely cited research illustrates the negative impact of this focus on women marginalized as a function of poverty, race, and immigration status. In 2014, she co-organized a national conference of more than 200 academics across disciplines, service providers, attorneys, activists, and students. The conference, Converge! Reimagining the Movement to End Gender Violence, furthered gender violence activism and policy that is anti-racist, supports alternatives to crime-centered approaches, and addresses structural inequality. In 2015, she was the co-investigator for a national survey of service providers regarding police response to domestic violence and sexual assault. With more than 900 respondents, the survey uncovered significant police bias on the basis of gender, race, class, immigration status, and LGBTQ identity. She is the co-founder of the Reimagining project, which highlights the thinking of leading scholars and activists involved in changing the response to gender violence.

Professor Coker’s research regarding the use of restorative justice approaches to IPV and sexual harm has influenced work in the interdisciplinary fields of restorative justice and domestic violence in the United States and abroad. Her empirical study of domestic violence cases in Navajo Peacemaking courts was one of the first empirical studies of Peacemaking and the first to focus on domestic violence cases. Her recent scholarship examines the use of restorative justice responses to campus sexual assault.

Her work on the nature of "heat of passion" doctrine uncovered gender related assumptions imbedded in criminal law doctrine. She continued to explore gender and racial bias in her Criminal Law Stories chapter on Wanrow, a self-defense case frequently cited as the first "women's self-defense" case. She co-edited Criminal Law Stories (2013) with Professor Robert Weisberg (Stanford Law).

Professor Coker has assisted numerous non-profits and advocacy organizations. She served as an expert and advisor to the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered; an advisory board member for A National Portrait of Restorative Approaches to Intimate Partner Violence (a national survey); and a founding board member of the non-profit, Media for Change.

Before attending law school, Professor Coker worked in the domestic violence field for 10 years. This work began in 1978 when she was became the sole staff person for a newly opened battered women's shelter in Little Rock, Arkansas. In subsequent years she was the Coordinator of a community based battered women's project in Honolulu, Hawaii, overseeing advocacy and support for more than 100 women a year.


Restorative Approaches to Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Harm, 36 Ohio St. J. Disp. Resol. 591 (2021).

Restorative Responses to Intimate Partner Violence, in Comparative Dispute Resolution (Maria F. Moscati, Michael Palmer & Marian Roberts, eds.) 46 (2020).

Feminist Response to Campus Sexual Assault in the Republican Era: Crime Logic, Intersectional Public Health, and Restorative Justice, The Politicization of Safety: Critical Perspectives on Domestic Violence Responses, with Jane Stoever, 171 (2019).

Restorative Responses to Campus Sexual Harm: Promising Practices and Challenges, 1 Int'l J. Restorative Just. 385 (2018).

Introduction: Pedagogies of Domestic Violence, with Madelaine Adelman, 22 Violence Against Women 1419 (2016).

Crime Logic, Campus Sexual Assault, and Restorative Justice, 49 Tex. Tech L. Rev. 147 (2016).

Domestic Violence and Social Justice: A Structural Intersectional Framework for Teaching About Domestic Violence, 22 Violence Against Women 1426 (2016).

Responses from the Field: Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Policing, with Sandra Park, Julie Goldscheid, Tara Neal, Valerie Halstead, (2015).

Introduction: CONVERGE! Reimagining the Movement to End Gender Violence, with Leigh Goodmark, Marcia Olivo, 5 U. Miami Race & Soc. Just. L. Rev. 249 (2015).

Why Opposing Hyper-Incarceration Should Be Central to the Work of the Anti-Domestic Violence Movement, with Ahjané Macquoid, 5 U. Miami Race & Soc. Just. L. Rev. 585 (2015).

Alternative U.S. Responses to Intimate Partner Violence , Comparative Perspectives on Gender Violence: Lessons from Efforts Worldwide (Rashmi Goel & Leigh Goodmark, eds. 2015), with Ahjané Macquoid, 169 (2015).

“Stand Your Ground” in Context: Race, Gender, and Politics, 68 U. Miami L. Rev. 943 (2014).

Criminal Law Stories (2013).

The Story of Wanrow: The Reasonable Woman and the Law of Self-Defense, Criminal Law Stories, with Lindsay Harrison, 213 (2013).

Restorative Justice, Navajo Peacemaking and Domestic Violence, 10 special issue, Gender, Race and Restorative Justice (Kimberly J. Cook, Kathleen Daly, & Julie Stubbs, guest eds.) Theoretical Criminology 67 (2006).

Race, Poverty, and the Crime-Centered Response to Domestic Violence: A Comment on Linda Mills's "Insult to Injury: Rethinking Our Responses to Intimate Abuse", 10 Violence Against Women 1331 (2004).

Addressing the Real World of Racial Injustice in the Criminal Justice System, 93 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 827 (2003).

Transformative Justice: Anti-Subordination Processes in Cases of Domestic Violence, Restorative Justice and Family Violence (Strang & Braithwaite eds.) 128 (2002).

Crime Control and Feminist Law Reform in Domestic Violence Law: A Critical Review, 4 Buff. Crim. L. Rev. 801 (2001).

Shifting Power for Battered Women: Law, Material Resources, and Poor Women of Color, 33 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 1009 (2000).

Enhancing Autonomy for Battered Women: Lessons from Navajo Peacemaking, 47 UCLA L. Rev. 1 (1999).

Heat of Passion and Wife Killing: Men Who Batter/Men Who Kill, 2 S. Cal. Rev. L. & Women's Stud. 71 (1992).

Restorative Responses to Intimate Partner Violence, Forthcoming in COMPARATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION: A RESEARCH HANDBOOK (Maria-Frederica Moscati, Michael Palmer, and Marian Roberts eds. 2019). .

 Media Appearances

Internet: Reimagining the Movement to End Gender Violence 2018 Reimagining the Movement to End Gender Violence, multimedia project,

TV: Al Jazeera - MeToo October 2017 Al Jazeera– #MeToo (October 2017) see

Other: Move to End Violence - Blog November 2015 National Survey Finds That Police Hostility and Bias Remain Problems for Survivors of Sexual and Domestic Violence at (Nov. 16, 2015) co-authored with Sandra Park and Julie Goldscheid (Move to End Violence blog)

Newspaper: Mandatory Policies Can Be a Threat to Women-New York Times 2014 Mandatory Policies Can Be a Threat to Women, New York Times online (2014) (invited submission), available at

Irin Carmon, Can Women Stand Their Ground? Depends on the Target, MSNBC March 2014

Magazine: What's Wrong with the Violence Against Women Act? - Time Magazine 2013 Kate Pickert, What’s Wrong with the Violence Against Women Act?, TIME MAGAZINE (Feb. 2013) see

Al Jazeera –Can Laws Protect Native American Women? March 2013

Newspaper: Tamar Lewin, What Penalty for Killing in Passion? New York Times October 1 1994

 Presentations & Awards

Keynote, Centering Survivors of Interpersonal Violence: Creating Interventions that Heal, Not Harm, San Francisco District Attorney symposium. (September 30, 2021)

Introduction to Restorative Justice for Restorative Justice in Criminal Practice, sponsored by the Alternative Dispute Resolution, Criminal Law, & Government Lawyer Sections of the Florida Bar and the Florida Restorative Justice Association (webinar) at (June 25, 2021)

Restorative Justice Fundamentals, South Carolina Restorative Justice Initiative, webinar at (October , 2020)

The Politicization of Safety: Critical Perspectives on Domestic Violence Responses Roundtable, organized by Jane Stoever, Law and Society Association Annual Meeting (May , 2020)

Keynote, Canada Domestic Violence Conference, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, Will the U.S. Pivot? Moving from Crime-Centered Advocacy to Addressing Structural Inequalities at (March , 2020)

ABA Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence and ABA Section on Civil Rights, Restorative Justice & Gender Violence, webinar at (July , 2020)

Tulane University, Newcomb Institute, An Interdisciplinary Symposium on Sexual Violence, New Orleans, LA An Intersectional Public Health Restorative Approach to Campus Sexual Harm. 2020 Interdisciplinary Symposium on Sexual Violence | Newcomb Institute ( (February , 2020)

Crime Logic and Feminist Activism, Politicization of Safety ( , 2017)

The Changing Face of the War on Drugs: Mass Incarceration, Overcriminalization, and Evolving Drug Policy ( , 2017)

Crime Logic, Campus Sexual Assault, and Restorative Justice (September 16, 2016)

Restorative Practices in Cases of Intimate Partner Violence: A Roundtable Discussion (May 17, 2016)

RJ Responses to Campus Sexual Assault, Changing Campus Climate & Culture, Plenary Panel (June 27, 2016)

Restorative Justice and Campus Sexual Assault (January , 2016)

The Ethics and Practice of Community Engagement – Discussion Group ( , 2016)

Grappling with Campus Rape – Panel Moderator ( , 2016)

Restorative Justice and Campus Sexual Assault ( , 2016)

Why Opposing Hyper-Incarceration Should be Central to the Work of the Anti-Domestic Violence Movement ( , 2016)

Crime Logic, Campus Sexual Assault, and Restorative Justice ( , 2016)

Moderator, Title IX Sexual Assault: What "Due Process” Is Due? Panel, ( , 2016)

Why Opposing Hyper-Incarceration Should be Central to the Work of the Anti-Domestic Violence Movement (October , 2015)

Institutional Accountability for Gender Violence, roundtable (June , 2015)

A Critical Look at How American Universities Handle Sexual Assault ( , 2015)

Welcome Address for Converge! Reimagining the Movement to End Gender Violence ( , 2014)

Pedagogical Challenges and Opportunities in Teaching About Gender Violence ( , 2014)

Teaching Structural Inequality and Gender Violence ( , 2014)


Keynote Speaker, Critical Feminism and Criminal Law ( , 2013)

Structural Inequality and Intimate Partner Violence, Rethinking State Intervention in Intimate Partner Violence panel ( , 2013)

Chair and Co-organizer, Access to Justice in a Down Economy panel ( , 2012)

The Story of Wanrow, Criminal Law Stories panel ( , 2012)

Against a Crime-Centered Approach to Domestic Violence, Criminal Justice Reform and Economic Empowerment panel ( , 2011)

Gender Violence and the Potential for Restorative Justice panel ( , 2011)

Teaching Domestic Violence Through the Lens of Structural Inequality, Structural Inequality and Violence Against Women panel ( , 2011)

Restorative Justice and Violence Against Women panel ( , 2011)

Respecting and Contesting the Rights of Women and Children ( , 2011)

The Story of Wanrow, Invited Lecture ( , 2011)

The Economic Crisis and Domestic Violence ( , 2011)

The Story of Wanrow, Faculty Colloquium ( , 2011)

The Economic Crisis and Domestic Violence at the Creating Change: Feminism, The University and Society conference ( , 2011)

Violence Against Women-Access to Justice, Bystander States and Exporting Models ( , 2011)

Implementing Critique: Integrating Theory and Practice About Domestic Violence ( , 2010)

The Current Economic Crisis and Our Response to Domestic Violence at Thinking Outside the Box: New Challenges and New Approaches to Domestic Violence ( , 2009)

Domestic Violence Victims Rights at Needs, Power: The Victim in Criminal Justice ( , 2008)

Feminism, Restorative Justice, and Violence Against Women ( , 2007)

The Story of Wanrow: The `Reasonable Man’ and the Law of Self-Defense ( , 2007)

Moving the Agenda Beyond the Debate on Mandatory Criminal Interventions ( , 2007)

The Case Against Mandatory Criminal Intervention in Domestic Violence Cases ( , 2005)

Intimate Violence Interventions: Impact on Poor and Marginalized Women ( , 2003)

Addressing Domestic Violence Through A Strategy of Economic Rights, Trafficking in Women ( , 2003)

Expert Testimony and Amici Representation in Support of Battered Women Charged with Criminal Offending ( , 2003)

Domestic Violence and Criminal Law Reform at Women’s Rights in Theory and Practice ( , 2002)

Documenting Battered Women’s Material Resource Needs: Developing Participatory Research, Confronting Domestic Violence and Achieving Gender Equality: Evaluating BATTERED WOMEN AND FEMINIST LAWMAKING ( , 2002)

Effective Service Provision for Domestic Violence Victims on Welfare ( , 2001)

Domestic Violence Law Reform: The Impact of a Crime Focus, Race at Class, Gender, and Ethnicity, Crime and Consequence: The Impact of Criminalization ( , 2001)

Risks and Rewards of the Use of Restorative Justice Processes in Cases of Domestic Violence ( , 2000)

Using Restorative Justice in Situations of Family Violence ( , 2000)

Feminist and Anti-Racist Practice in Restorative Justice Processes at Restorative Justice and Family Violence: New Ideas and Learning from the ( , 2000)

Mandatory Arrest in Domestic Violence Cases ( , 2000)

Navajo Peacemaking and Enhancing Battered Women’s Autonomy ( , 2000)

Enhancing Autonomy for Battered Women: Navajo Peacemaking and Domestic Violence Cases ( , 1999)

Moving the Family Law Classroom to Act ( , 1998)

Navajo Peacemaking and Domestic Violence Cases: Stories for Transformation ( , 1998)

Panel Discussant, Race, Nation and Identity: Indigenous Peoples and LatCrit Theory ( , 1998)

What Can Peacemaker Courts Teach Domestic Violence Justice Reform Efforts? ( , 1998)

Navajo Nation Peacemaker Courts and Cases Involving Domestic Violence ( , 1997)

Prosecuting Domestic Homicides: When Batterers Kill ( , 1996)

Battered Women's Syndrome Testimony and Self-Defense: An Overview and Critique ( , 1993)

Teaching Berry: Gender Issues Related to Voluntary Manslaughter Doctrine ( , 1993)

Heat of Passion and Wife Killing ( , 1992)

How the Image of “Battered Women's Syndrome” Hinders Battered Women in Child Custody Fights: The Conflict Between a Woman's Presentation of Self in the Criminal Courtroom and Her Presentation in Family Court ( , 1991)

Cultural Defense" and Moral Theory ( , 1991)

The Relevance of Spouse Abuse to Child Custody Determinations ( , 1989)

donna coker
Phone: (305)284-3041
Office: G383
Faculty Assistant

Gonzalez, Ana

Phone: (305) 284-2052
Office: G387

Area of Expertise

  • Criminal Law
  • Gender and the Law
  • Intimate Partner Violence
  • Restorative Justice