Donna Coker

Professor of Law

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

Phone: 305-284-3041
Office: G383

Donna Coker has a J.D. (1991) from Stanford Law School, an M.S.W. (1982) from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a B.S.W. from Harding University (1978). Before joining the University of Miami faculty in 1995, Professor Coker practiced law with a major west coast law firm and taught domestic violence law at Stanford Law School and Santa Clara School of Law. She served as Academic Associate Dean from 2005–2009. She has taught criminal law, evidence, domestic violence, family law, wrongful convictions and other advanced criminal justice courses.

Professor Coker's scholarship focuses on criminal law, gender and inequality. She is a nationally recognized expert in domestic violence law and policy. Her research concerns three major areas: the connection between economic vulnerability and domestic violence; restorative justice and other alternative criminal justice interventions; and gender and criminal law doctrine. She is a leading critic of the disproportionate focus on criminal justice responses that characterizes U.S. domestic violence policy. Her widely cited research illustrates the negative impact of this focus on battered women marginalized as a function of poverty, race, or immigration status.

Her empirical study of the adjudication of domestic violence cases in Navajo Peacemaking Courts has influenced work in the fields of restorative justice and domestic violence in the United States and abroad. Her work on the nature of "heat of passion" doctrine uncovered gender related assumptions imbedded in criminal law doctrine. She continues to explore gender and mens rea in her Criminal Law Stories chapter on Wanrow, a self- defense case frequently cited as the first "women's self-defense" case. Professor Coker and Professor Robert Weisberg (Stanford Law) are the co-editors of the Criminal Law Stories (2013).

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. She trained religious professionals, military police, shelter staff, attorneys and judges in responding to domestic violence; co-authored an influential article on child custody and domestic violence; and served as an expert witness in custody cases involving allegations of spouse abuse.

Professor Coker's public service includes amicus curiae representation of NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (Legal Momentum); training lawyers, activists and child abuse/neglect investigators; service as a board member for a state-wide project providing civil representation for battered women; and expert consultation and testimony on sentencing and child custody. She serves as co-editor for the Criminal Law section of Jotwell (an online journal).



Introduction: Pedagogies of Domestic Violence, with Madelaine Adelman, 22 Special Volume, Teaching Domestic Violence 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). .

Restorative Responses to Campus Sexual Harm: Promising Practices and Challenges, Special volume, A Restorative Approach to Institutional Climate and Culture in Families, Education, Workplaces and Professions (Jennifer Llewellyn & Brenda Morrison eds. forthcoming 2019) INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF RESTORATIVE JUSTICE.

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 (Jane Stoever ed. forthcoming 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

Phone: 305-284-3041
Office: G383
Faculty Assistant

Gonzalez, Ana

Phone: 305-284-2052
Office: G387

Area of Expertise

  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Gender and the Law
  • Intimate Partner Violence