John Burkoff

Professor Emeritus of Law


John M. Burkoff is a prolific author, teacher, public speaker, lawyer, and expert witness.

Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh from 1976 to 2017 and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs from July, 2000 to January 2004, he has published more than fifty books and more than sixty articles in the areas of criminal justice and legal ethics. Professor Burkoff has been awarded both the Chancellor's Distinguished Public Service Award and the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award by the University of Pittsburgh, and has been voted Teacher of the Year by the graduating class of the Pitt Law School.  He has lectured at many U.S. law schools, the National Judicial College, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court New Judges Training Program, and the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges Judicial Education Conference.

Burkoff has also been involved with projects relating to human rights, criminal justice, legal ethics, and legal education all over the world. He has taught at Bahcesehir University (Istanbul), the University of Navarra (Spain), the University of Ghent (Belgium) where he was Chair in Foreign Law, the University of Iceland, the University of Belgrade (Serbia), the University of Nairobi (Kenya), and Moi University (Kenya). He has also been involved in human rights projects for the U.S. Embassies in Burundi, Iceland, and Kenya; taught legal ethics to Eastern European lawyers in Slovakia for U.S. Steel; and consulted on civilian control of the police in Albania, teaching at the National Police Academy.

Burkoff has, in addition, sailed on the Semester at Sea program as a faculty member on the Spring 1990 Voyage, Academic Dean on the Fall 1996 Voyage, the first Director of the "Law at Sea" Program on the Summer 2001 Voyage, and Executive Dean of the Summer 2007, Summer 2010, Summer 2013 and the Spring 2018 Voyages.

Burkoff was a Ford Foundation Fellow at Harvard Law School, a past Chairperson of the Criminal Justice Section of the Association of American Law Schools, and the first Chairperson of the city of Pittsburgh's Citizen Police Review Board. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Commission on Judicial Independence, and did consulting and expert work for many American law firms and government agencies.

Key/Recent Publications


  • Criminal Law: A Contemporary Approach (2011) (2d edition West Interactive Casebook Series) (with Russell Weaver & Catherine Hancock) (and Teachers’ Manual and annual supplements) (in progress: publication in late fall 2013).
  • Criminal Procedure Adjudication: Cases & Materials, Problems & Exercises (5th edition) (in production: publication in June 2013) (West) (with Russell Weaver, Catherine Hancock, Janet Hoeffel, Stephen Singer & Steven Friedland) (and Teachers’ Manual).
  • Criminal Procedure: Cases & Materials, Problems & Exercises (5th edition) (in production: publication in June 2013) (West) (with Russell Weaver, Catherine Hancock, Janet Hoeffel, Stephen Singer & Steven Friedland) (and Teachers’ Manual).
  • Jumpstart Criminal Law: Reading And Understanding Criminal Law Cases (Aspen) (2013).
  • Criminal Procedure Investigation: Cases & Materials, Problems & Exercises (5th edition) (2013) (West) (with Russell Weaver, Catherine Hancock, Janet Hoeffel, Stephen Singer & Steven Friedland) (and Teachers’ Manual).
  • Acing Criminal Law 2d (West) (2013).
  • Exam Pro On Criminal Law (Objective Questions) (West) (2012) (with Nancy Burkoff).
  • Principles Of Criminal Procedure (4th edition) (West) (2012) (with Russell Weaver, Leslie Abramson & Catherine Hancock).
  • Criminal Defense Ethics: Law and Liability 2012 Edition, (West, 2012).
  • Exam Pro Objective on Criminal Law, (with Professor Nancy Burkoff, West, 2012).
  • Ineffective Assistance of Counsel 2012 Edition, (with Professor Nancy Burkoff, West, 2012).
  • Inside Criminal Law: What Matters And Why (Aspen) (2d ed.) (2011) (with Russell Weaver).
  • Criminal Law: A Contemporary Approach (West Interactive Casebook Series), (with Russell Weaver & Catherine Hancock, and Teachers’ Manual, 2011).
  • Search Warrant Law Desk Book, (West, 2012 ed., also on WESTLAW).
  • Criminal Law: [Essay Exams and Analysis] ,(Sum & Substance Exam Pro Series, West, 2010).
  • Criminal Offenses and Defenses in Pennsylvania, (6th ed., West Pennsylvania Practice Series, also available on WESTLAW, 2010).
  • Acing Criminal Law, (West, 2009).
  • John M. Burkoff & R. Weaver, Inside Criminal Law, (Aspen, 2008., 2d ed. forthcoming, 2011).
  • John M. Burkoff, R. Weaver, L. Abramson, & C. Hancock, Principles of Criminal Procedure 3rd edition, (Thomson/West, 2008).
  • John M. Burkoff, R. Weaver, L. Abramson, R. Bacigal, C. Hancock, & D. Lively, Criminal Procedure: Cases & Materials, Problems & Exercises, (4th ed., Thomson/West, 2010, authored prior editions).
  • John M. Burkoff, R. Weaver, L. Abramson, & C. Hancock, Principles Of Criminal Procedure, (Thomson/West, 2d ed., 2007).
  • John M. Burkoff, R. Weaver, L. Abramson, & C. Hancock, Criminal Law: Cases & Materials, Problems & Exercises, (3d ed., Thomson/West, 2009, authored prior editions).
  • Criminal Offenses And Defenses In Pennsylvania, (5th ed., Thomson/West, 2004, authored prior editions).
  • Criminal Defense Ethics: Law and Liability, (West Group, 2010; annual soft-cover editions beginning in 2002; authored prior editions; includes annual supplement).
  • John M. Burkoff & Nancy Burkoff, Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel, (Thomson/West, 1993, and annual supplementary releases and pocket part supplements, 1993 to present).
  • Search Warrant Law Deskbook (Thomson/West, 1987, semiannual supplementary releases, 1988 to present).

Book Chapters:

  • If God Wanted Lawyers to Fly, She Would Have Given Them Wings: Life, Lust & Legal Ethics in Body Heat, in R. Strickland, T. Foster & T. Banks (eds.), Screening Justice– The Cinema Of Law: Significant Films Of Law, Order And Social Justice (William S. Hein & Co. 2006).
  • Various entries, in The Encyclopedia Of American Civil Liberties (Taylor & Francis Books, Inc.) (2006).
  • Exclusionary Rules, in Encyclopedia Of Police Science 262 (ed. William Bailey) (Garland Publishing Inc. 1995) (2d ed.).
  • Commentary, Government, in Trade & Commercial Laws Of The Russian Federation: Official Codification & Commentary 1 (Oceana Publications, Inc. 1993).

Scholarly Articles:

Monthly Newsletters:

  • John M. Burkoff, Coordinating Editor, Search and Seizure Law Report (monthly). West Group, May 1989 to present.


  • Visiting Professor, “U.S. Criminal Law,” University of Navarra, (Feb.-Mar. 2012).
  • Visiting Professor, “Introduction to U.S. Criminal Justice,” Bahcesehir University Faculty of Law, (May 2012).
  • Lecturer, “Understanding Criminal Justice Systems: What in the World is Going On?” ISE Distinguished Lecturer on the World (private, residential cruise ship), (June 2012).
  • Pitt Law at PNC Park CLE, Moderator & Speaker, When an Athlete Gets in Trouble: Conflicting Roles of the Defense Attorney, Sports Agent, and Club Counsel.
  • Pitt Law "Boatgate" Alumni Reception at Heinz Field, Co-Host & Speaker, Alumni Reception with Pitt Business School.

Other Activities

  • Member, American Law Institute
  • Member, Pennsylvania Commission on Judicial Independence
  • Fellow, Allegheny County Bar Foundation Fellows Program
  • Member, Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Advertising Review Board
  • Member, Pennsylvania Bar Association Amicus Curiae Committee
  • Member, American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section's Committee on Ethics, Gideon and Professionalism
  • Member, Members Consultative Group, Principles of Government Ethics, American Law Institute
  • West Virginia University, Executive MBA Investigative Panel (2008)
  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Commission on Judicial Independence, (2006-present)
  • American Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section, Ethics, Gideon and Professionalism Committee (2006-present.)
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association, Judicial Campaign Advertising Advisory Board (1995-present)
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association, Amicus Curiae Brief Committee (1991-present; Chairperson, 1994-1995)
  • Consultant and Lecturer, Community Policing in Albania Project, Institute for Democracy & Mediation, Center for Russian & East European Studies, University of Pittsburgh, Tirana, Albania (2006)
  • University of Pittsburgh, Provost's Advisory Council on Instructional Excellence ( 2004-2006)
  • Faculty, Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges, Judicial Education Conference (2006, 2000, 1997, 1995, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1984)
  • Lecturer, Legal Ethics & Legal Profession in the United States, United States Steel Legal Department, Kosice, Slovakia (2005)
  • Faculty, Pennsylvania Supreme Court New Judges Training Program, Criminal Law (2002, 2000, 1996, 1992, 1990, 1988, 1985)
  • Speaker & Consultant, U.S. State Department, Bureau of Public Affairs, United States Embassy, Reykjavik, Iceland (2000)
  • Chairperson, Updating Task Force, Third Edition, Special Functions of the Trial Judge, Criminal Justice Standards, Criminal Justice Section, American Bar Association (1997-2000)
  • Founding Chairman & Board Member, City of Pittsburgh Citizens Police Review Board (1997-1999)