Daniel Epps

Associate Professor of Law


J.D., 2008, Harvard Law School
A.B., 2004, Duke University

Curriculum Vitae




Andrea Donze - (314) 935-6422

Phone / Email

Phone: (314) 935-3532
Email: epps@wustl.edu 


Anheuser-Busch Hall, Room 557

Courses Taught

Criminal Law
Criminal Procedure
Public Law Theory


Professor Daniel Epps teaches and writes about criminal law and criminal procedure. His research analyzes the criminal justice system using the tools and insights of structural public law and institutional design. His first article, The Consequences of Error in Criminal Justice, 128 Harvard Law Review 1065 (2015), probed the historical, intellectual, and normative foundations of the "Blackstone principle"—the idea in criminal law that it is preferable to let many guilty defendants go free in order to avoid convicting a smaller number of innocent defendants. His second piece, Adversarial Asymmetry in the Criminal Process, 91 NYU Law Review 762 (2016), analyzed and critiqued our system's approach to motivating prosecutors. He has a secondary interest in federal courts and the design of judicial institutions. His newest paper, Harmless Errors and Substantial Rights (forthcoming in the Harvard Law Review), offers a broad reconceptualization of the harmless constitutional error doctrine governing appellate review of criminal convictions. Another recent paper, The Lottery Docket (forthcoming in the Michigan Law Review, with William Ortman), proposes supplementing the Court's case selection process with a set of cases drawn at random from final decisions of the circuit courts. His writing for popular audiences has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, and The Atlantic.

A nationally recognized expert on the Supreme Court, Professor Epps is the co-host of First Mondays, a popular podcast that covers the Court’s work on a weekly basis. He is an experienced Supreme Court litigator; most recently, he served as co-counsel for the defendant in Ocasio v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 1423 (2016), which addressed the scope of criminal conspiracy liability for public-sector extortion. His other notable prior work includes the successful petition for certiorari and merits briefing in Walden v. Fiore, 133 S. Ct. 1493 (2014); a brief for the Court-appointed amicus curiae in Millbrook v. United States, 133 S. Ct. 1441 (2013); and an amicus brief for criminal law and procedure scholars in United States v. Davila, 133 S. Ct. 2139 (2013). He also served as co-counsel on the brief of Prof. Stephen E. Sachs as amicus curiae in Atlantic Marine Construction Co. v. U.S. District Court, 134 S. Ct. 568 (2013) (with Jeffrey S. Bucholtz & Stephen E. Sachs), which The Green Bag Almanac & Reader included on its list of "Exemplary Legal Writing" for 2013.

Professor Epps received his A.B. summa cum laude with highest distinction in Philosophy from Duke University and his J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was Articles Co-Chair of the Harvard Law Review and won the John M. Olin Law & Economics prize. After law school, he clerked for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy of the Supreme Court of the United States. He then spent several years as an appellate specialist at King & Spalding LLP in Washington, D.C. While in practice, he also served as a Lecturer at the University of Virginia School of Law, where he co-taught a course called "Supreme Court Decisionmaking." Immediately prior to joining Washington University, he was a Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School.

Representative Publications

Forthcoming Scholarship

  • "Harmless Errors and Substantial Rights," 131 Harvard Law Review (forthcoming 2018)
  • "The Lottery Docket," 116 Michigan Law Review (forthcoming 2018) (with William Ortman) [SSRN]

Articles & Essays

  • "Adversarial Asymmetry in the Criminal Process," 91 New York University Law Review 762 (2016) [SSRN]
  • "One Last Word on the Blackstone Principle," 101 Virginia Law Review Online 34 (2016) [SSRN]
  • "The Consequences of Error in Criminal Justice," 128 Harvard Law Review 1065 (2015) [SSRN]
  • "Mechanisms of Secrecy," 121 Harvard Law Review 1556 (2008) [SSRN]


  • "Police Officers Are Bypassing Juries to Face Judges," Washington Post (Sept. 21, 2017)
  • Contributor, "An Annotated Constitution," New York Times Magazine (July 2, 2017)
  • "In Health Care Ruling, Roberts Steals a Move from John Marshall’s Playbook," The Atlantic (June 28, 2012)