University of Pittsburgh

David J.R. Frakt

Visiting Professor

Professor David J. R. Frakt earned his B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of California, Irvine and his J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School. After law school, he clerked for the Honorable Monroe G. McKay, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. From 1995 to 2005, he served on active duty with the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG) before transitioning to academia and the Air Force Reserves, where he is now a Lieutenant Colonel.  He served as Associate Professor and Director of the Criminal Law Practice Center at Western State University College of Law from May 2005 to July 2010, and as Associate Professor of Law at Barry University School of Law from August 2010 to May 2012.  In 2008, he was an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center.

From April 2008 to August 2009, Professor Frakt took a military leave of absence from teaching to serve as lead defense counsel with the Office of Military Commissions, representing two detainees at Guantanamo facing war crimes and terrorism charges before the U.S. military commissions. He was the first defense counsel to win the pretrial dismissal of all charges against his client, Mohammed Jawad, a juvenile from Afghanistan, and also won Mohammed's release through a habeas corpus petition in federal court. He was the sole defense counsel in one of the only two military commission trials completed during President Bush's tenure in office, representing Ali Hamza al Bahlul.

Professor Frakt is a highly regarded expert in the field of international war crimes, military law and military commissions and has been frequently quoted in the national media, including in the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, New York Review of Books, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Miami Herald, The Nation and the Atlantic Monthly. He has written widely in both scholarly and popular periodicals. His articles and letters have been published in the Washington Post, New York Review of Books, the Duke Law Journal, Harvard Human Rights Journal, American Journal of Criminal Law, Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, Florida State University Law Review, University of San Francisco Law Review, and the Air Force Law Review, as well as online on,, Huffington Post,, and He has been a repeat guest on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, and on PRI's "The World" and has debated terrorism issues on the “Intelligence Squared” Debate series, broadcast nationally on Bloomberg News and NPR. Professor Frakt is a frequent guest speaker at law schools, conferences and symposia. Recent  speaking appearances include the Clinton Presidential Center, Harvard, Duke, UCLA, Case Western Reserve, Seton Hall, and NYU Law Schools, and the Wharton School of Business. Professor Frakt is a contributor to the ACLU National Security Project’s Torture Report and was featured in the book “The Guantanamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison, Outside the Law.”  He serves on the Board of the Advisors of the National Institute of Military Justice.

Professor Frakt teaching and scholarship areas are criminal law, criminal procedure, evidence, international war crimes and international humanitarian law. His latest article will be published in the University of Pittsburgh Law Review.

Professor Frakt’s publications are available on his SSRN PAGE :


  • J.D., Harvard Law School (Cum Laude)
  • B.A., University of California, Irvine (Summa Cum Laude)
  • Revised 08/02/2011 | Copyright 2011 | Site by UMC