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 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


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

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

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

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

The Law of COVID-19: Miami Law Addresses Crime and Law in Pandemic America, panel, April 2020 (webinar).

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

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

Restorative Justice Public Health Responses to Campus Sexual Assault on Critical Theoretical Perspectives on Domestic Violence & Other Forms of Gender-Based Violence panel, European Conference on Domestic Violence, Oslo, Norway 2019.

Author-Meets-Reader panel, Chair, for LEIGH GOODMARK, DECRIMINALIZING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, Law & Society Annual Meeting, 2019.

Roundtable, Social Justice, Law & Gender Violence textbook, co-presentation with Leigh Goodmark, Deborah Weissman, and Aziza Ahmed, Law & Society Annual Meeting, 2019.

Critical Questions for Relational Restorative Justice, International Restorative Justice Conference, June 2018.

Limits and Promise: RJ to Address Sexual Violence, Panel Chair & Speaker, National Association of Community & Restorative Justice Conference, June 2017.

Conference at University of California at Irvine Initiative to End Family Violence, "Crime Logic and Feminist Activism, Politicization of Safety." (2017).

Wayne State Law Review 2016-17 Symposium, "The Changing Face of the War on Drugs: Mass Incarceration, Overcriminalization, and Evolving Drug Policy." (2017).

UCI Initiative to End Family Violence, "Crime Logic, Campus Sexual Assault, and Restorative Justice," University of California at Irvine School of Law. (2016).

AALS 2016, "Restorative Justice and Campus Sexual Assault," Symposium on Violence Against Women, “Punishment” panel speaker. (2016).

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

"Why Opposing Hyper-Incarceration Should be Central to the Work of the Anti-Domestic Violence Movement," National Center for the Defense of Battered Women (NCDBW), funded by Office of Violence Against Women. (2016).

UM Women & Gender Studies colloquium, "Crime Logic, Campus Sexual Assault, and Restorative Justice." (September 16, 2016).

International Restorative Conference, "RJ Responses to Campus Sexual Assault, Changing Campus Climate & Culture, Plenary Panel," Halifax, Nova Scotia. (June 27, 2016).

"Restorative Practices in Cases of Intimate Partner Violence: A Roundtable Discussion," Center for Court Innovation, National Center for Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the DOJ Office on Violence Against Women, Santa Fe, N.M. (May 17, 2016).

"Restorative Justice and Campus Sexual Assault," SMU Dedman School of Law –Faculty Colloquium. (January 2016).

Chair, Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, "A Critical Look at How American Universities Handle Sexual Assault." (2015).

Women & Gender Studies Campus-wide symposium, "Responses from the Field," University of Miami. (November 2015).

National Center for the Defense of Battered Women (NCDBW), funded by Office of Violence Against Women (OVW),, "Why Opposing Hyper-Incarceration Should be Central to the Work of the Anti-Domestic Violence Movement." (October 2015).

Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, "Institutional Accountability for Gender Violence, roundtable." (June 2015).

Law & Society Annual Conference, "Pedagogical Challenges and Opportunities in Teaching About Gender Violence." (2014).

Mountain West Regional Clinical Conference, "Teaching Structural Inequality and Gender Violence," University of Denver Sturm College of Law. (2014).

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

Feminism and Criminal Law Workshop, "Keynote Speaker, Critical Feminism and Criminal Law," University of Colorado School of Law. (2013).

Author-Meets-Reader panel, Chair & Co-organizer, Law and Society Annual Meeting, "Remarks regarding LEIGH GOODMARK, A TROUBLED MARRIAGE: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND THE LEGAL SYSTEM." (2013).

AALS Annual Meeting, "Structural Inequality and Intimate Partner Violence, Rethinking State Intervention in Intimate Partner Violence panel," Criminal Justice, Women in Legal Education, and Family & Juvenile Law sections. (2013).

National Association of Women Judges Conference, "Chair and Co-organizer, Access to Justice in a Down Economy panel." (2012).

Law and Society Annual Meeting,, "The Story of Wanrow, Criminal Law Stories panel." (2012).

ClassCrits conference, "Against a Crime-Centered Approach to Domestic Violence, Criminal Justice Reform and Economic Empowerment panel," American University Washington College of Law. (2011).

National Conference on Restorative Justice, "Gender Violence and the Potential for Restorative Justice panel." (2011).

Law and Society Annual Meeting, Chair/Discussant, "Respecting and Contesting the Rights of Women and Children." (2011).

"Restorative Justice and Violence Against Women panel," , Law and Society Annual Meeting, Author-Meets-Reader panel, Chair/Discussant. (2011).

Law and Society Annual Meeting, speaker and panel co-organizer, "Teaching Domestic Violence Through the Lens of Structural Inequality, Structural Inequality and Violence Against Women panel." (2011).

"The Economic Crisis and Domestic Violence," Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. (2011).

"The Economic Crisis and Domestic Violence at the Creating Change: Feminism, The University and Society conference," , School of Social Justice, University of College Dublin. (2011).

"The Story of Wanrow, Faculty Colloquium," University of Connecticut School of Law. (2011).

2010-2011 Criminal Justice Forum, "The Story of Wanrow, Invited Lecture," Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. (2011).

A National Dialogue on Sexuality, Violence, Reproduction and Human Rights conference, "Violence Against Women-Access to Justice, Bystander States and Exporting Models." (2011).

"Implementing Critique: Integrating Theory and Practice About Domestic Violence," , Law and Society Association annual meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana. (2010).

"The Current Economic Crisis and Our Response to Domestic Violence at Thinking Outside the Box: New Challenges and New Approaches to Domestic Violence," St. John’s University School of Law. (2009).

"Domestic Violence Victims Rights' Needs, Power: The Victim in Criminal Justice," Stanford Law School. (2008).

"Feminism, Restorative Justice, and Violence Against Women," Law and Society Association International Meeting, Berlin, Germany. (2007).

"Moving the Agenda Beyond the Debate on Mandatory Criminal Interventions," New York University School of Law. (2007).

"The Story of Wanrow: The `Reasonable Man’ and the Law of Self-Defense," Law and Society Association International Meeting, Berlin, Germany. (2007).

"The Case Against Mandatory Criminal Intervention in Domestic Violence Cases," Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, Las Vegas, Nevada. (2005).

"Addressing Domestic Violence Through A Strategy of Economic Rights, Trafficking in Women," Women’s Rights Law Reporter, Rutgers University School of Law. (2003).

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

"Intimate Violence Interventions: Impact on Poor and Marginalized Women," Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (2003).

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

"Domestic Violence and Criminal Law Reform at Women’s Rights in Theory and Practice," Philippa Strum, Director, U.S. Studies, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C., (2002).

"Domestic Violence Law Reform: The Impact of a Crime Focus, Race at Class, Gender, and Ethnicity, Crime and Consequence: The Impact of Criminalization," University of North Carolina School of Law. (2001).

Trapped by Poverty, Trapped by Abuse conference, "Effective Service Provision for Domestic Violence Victims on Welfare," University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. (2001).

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

"Mandatory Arrest in Domestic Violence Cases," Miami, Florida. (2000).

Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, Violence Against Women: Alternatives to Punishment panel, "Navajo Peacemaking and Enhancing Battered Women’s Autonomy," Miami, Florida. (2000).

"Risks and Rewards of the Use of Restorative Justice Processes in Cases of Domestic Violence," Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. (2000).

Real Justice Conference, "Using Restorative Justice in Situations of Family Violence," Toronto, Canada. (2000).

"Enhancing Autonomy for Battered Women: Navajo Peacemaking and Domestic Violence Cases," Stanford Sierra Club, California. (1999).

"Moving the Family Law Classroom to Act," Loyola School of Law, Los Angeles, California. (1998).

"Navajo Peacemaking and Domestic Violence Cases: Stories for Transformation," , Southeastern Association of American Law Schools annual meeting, San Marco Island, Florida. (1998).

"Panel Discussant, Race, Nation and Identity: Indigenous Peoples and LatCrit Theory," Miami, Florida. (1998).

"What Can Peacemaker Courts Teach Domestic Violence Justice Reform Efforts?," University of New Mexico School of Law, Albuquerque, New Mexico. (1998).

"Navajo Nation Peacemaker Courts and Cases Involving Domestic Violence," Florida State University College of Law, (1997).

"Navajo Nation Peacemaker Courts and Cases Involving Domestic Violence," Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, St. Louis, Missouri. (1997).

"Prosecuting Domestic Homicides: When Batterers Kill," Law and Society Association International Meeting, Glasgow, Scotland. (1996).

"Battered Women's Syndrome Testimony and Self-Defense: An Overview and Critique," Hastings Law School. (1993).

"Teaching Berry: Gender Issues Related to Voluntary Manslaughter Doctrine," , Society of American Law Teachers Teaching Conference, Santa Clara, California, (1993).

Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, "Heat of Passion and Wife Killing," Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (1992).

"Cultural Defense" and Moral Theory." (1991).

"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," Family Law class, Stanford Law School, Carol Sanger, Instructor, Stanford, California. (1991).

"The Relevance of Spouse Abuse to Child Custody Determinations," Stanford Law School. (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