Professor of Law

SpearIt is an internationally recognized scholar and teacher, and is a Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He is the author of American Prisons: A Critical Primer on Culture and Conversion to Islam (First Edition Design 2017), and his most recent book is entitled, Muslim Prisoner Litigation: An Unsung American Tradition (University of California Press 2023), which examines the history of Muslim prisoner litigation through the lens of OutCrit jurisprudence.

As an instructor, SpearIt has taught a range of courses in the law school curriculum, including Evidence, Criminal Procedure, Criminal Law, Sentencing, Corrections Law, and Professional Responsibility, among other courses. He has taught at a number of law schools including Saint Louis University, Seattle University, Texas Southern University, University of Arkansas, and Gonzaga University. In addition, he has taught undergraduates as instructor of record and taught at San Quentin State Prison.

SpearIt graduated with a B.A. in philosophy, magna cum laude, from the University of Houston. He also earned a Masters of Theological Studies at Harvard Divinity School, Ph.D. in Religious Studies at University of California Santa Barbara, and J.D. from University of California Berkeley School of Law.

Currently a Contributing Editor at JOTWELL Criminal Law, he also serves on the American Bar Association’s Corrections Committee and serves as an Affiliate Faculty at the Center for Security, Race, and Rights at Rutgers University.

His recent scholarship includes Understanding an American Paradox: An Overview of The Racial Muslim: When Racism Quashes Religious Freedom, 50 Hastings Const. L. Quarterly 141 (2023); Muslims in American Prisons: Advancing the Rule of Law through Litigation Praxis, 3 Harvard J. Islamic L. 29 (2022); 9/11 Impacts on Muslims in Prison, 27 Mich. J. Race & L. 101 (2022); Bargaining Away the Constitution, JOTWELL (6/23/22) (reviewing Carissa Byrne Hessick, Punishment Without Trial: Why Plea Bargaining is a Bad Deal (2021)). He also wrote, Clarence Thomas would be in Trouble if he were a Regular Judge, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/27/23; Christians who follow Jesus Should oppose the Death Penalty. So should Conservatives, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2/3/23; Litigious Zeal, Inquest, 11/8/22; “Shootings Proclaim War on Terror is Dead,” Pittsburgh Tribune Review (6/1/22), was recently interviewed on the podcast, Law According to a King entitled In God We Trust (1/14/22), and quoted in TIME Magazine, “‘I Don’t Think You’re Going to be Eating Tonight.’ Muslims Describe Ramadan in U.S. Prisons” (5/12/21) and in American Bar Association, "Challenging Systemic Racism with Human Connection," (2/26/21).

    Education & Training

  • JD, University of California Berkeley School of Law
  • PhD, University of California Santa Barbara
  • MTS, Harvard Divinity School
  • BA, University of Houston
Recent Publications

Key Publications: Top 20 articles by download on SSRN.com

Research Interests
  • Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Law 
  • Law & Religion 
  • Corrections