David Harris

Sally Ann Semenko Endowed Chair
Professor of Law


Professor Harris is the Sally Ann Semenko Endowed Chair and Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh’s law school, where he teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Evidence.  He is also a certified Inside Out Prison Exchange instructor, teaching classes of law students and incarcerated persons together at the State Correctional Institution -- Greene County, in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania.  Professor Harris received the Robert Harper Award for Excellence in Teaching for 2023. 

Harris devotes his research to the study of police conduct, search and seizure law, and the intersection of race and criminal justice.  He’s one of the leading national authorities on racial profiling; his 2002 book “Profiles in Injustice” and his many scholarly articles on the topic resulted in new laws, and regulations in hundreds of American police departments. His most recent book, “A City Divided: Race, Fear, and the Law in Police Confrontations” published in 2020 by Anthem Press, tells the story of the Jordan Miles case, which took place in Pittsburgh, and how that case explains police/civilian violence, particularly with African American men.

Professor Harris has worked with national, international, and local media on criminal justice topics for over three decades.  His July 2023 interview with PBS Newshour on the death penalty trial of the murderer of worshippers at three Pittsburgh synagogues can be found here; platforms and outlets on which he has appeared include the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, and many others.  Professor Harris is also the creator and host of the Criminal Injustice podcast.  From 2016 to 2022, Professor Harris he interviewed leaders in government, law enforcement, prosecution and defense, reform and advocacy, and incarcerated people, as well as academics and researchers, on every conceivable topic in the criminal justice system.  The entire six-year catalogue of over 150 interviews and hundreds of news and feature pieces is available here.

Professor Harris is committed to using his work to create change outside of the academic setting, nationally, and regionally.    He has testified on law enforcement and public safety issues multiple times in the U.S. Congress and state legislatures around the country.  In 2020, he served as a member of the Mayor’s Community Task Force on Police Reform in Pittsburgh, constituted in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing, to recommend ways to change policing.  With the defeat of the incumbent mayor, Prof. Harris then served as a member of Mayor Ed Gainey’s Transition Committee on Public Health and Safety, and on the Mayor Gainey’s committee to select a new chief of the Pittsburgh Police Department.  His work in Pittsburgh and in other communities around the country devoted to creating better relationships between police and the communities they serve, particularly African American communities, resulted in Professor Harris receiving the Jefferson Award for Public Service in 2015, and the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Public Service, in 2023. He is especially grateful for the opportunities he had in 2022-2023 to teach law students and incarcerated people together in his Inside-Out class at SCI – Greene, and to serve the victims and families of the synagogue murders, and all of Pittsburgh, through his teaching and other work for the 10.27 Healing Partnership.   

Key/Recent Publications

Books and Chapters:



Other Activities

  • Legal Systems Educator and Advisor

  • 10.27 Healing Partnership

  • Legal Analyst, WESA Public Radio, Pittsburgh

Programs & Courses