Elisabeth Semel

Research Expertise and Interest

Capital punishment; criminal law; criminal procedure

Research Description

Elisabeth Semel is a clinical professor and Director of the Death Penalty Clinic where faculty supervise students in representing individuals facing the death penalty at various stages of the proceedings -- trial, appeal, and post-conviction.  Her research is related to the defense of capital cases, with an emphasis on the role that race plays in the administration of the death penalty, and, more broadly, in the selection of juries.

In the News

Racial discrimination ingrained in jury selection, law school report finds

An eye-opening report from Berkeley Law’s Death Penalty Clinic finds that racial discrimination is a consistent aspect of jury selection in California. The exhaustive studyinvestigates the history, legacy, and ongoing practice of excluding people of color—especially African Americans—from state juries through prosecutors’ peremptory challenges. 

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
June 15, 2020
Maura Dolan
A UC Berkeley study released Monday unearthed that prosecutors usually routinely strike Black and Latino prospective jurors and that appellate courts have failed to rein in the practice. The study, "Whitewashing the Jury Box," was spearheaded by UC Berkeley law professor Elisabeth Semel, who runs the law school's Death Penalty Clinic, the Los Angeles Times reported. The report examined close to 700 cases decided by the state's Courts of Appeal from 2006 through 2018 that involved appeals of prosecutors' jury strikes.
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