Julia Simon-Kerr
Julia Simon-Kerr

Julia Simon-Kerr is a Professor of Law at UConn School of Law where she teaches Evidence, Civil Procedure and Law & Lying. Professor Simon-Kerr is a leading scholar of evidence. Her work on credibility and lying in the law, among other topics, lies at the intersection of evidence theory and critical legal perspectives, while also influencing reform. In her published work on credibility, she has explored how gender influences the types of evidence being used to impeach witnesses, how much of United States credibility doctrine rests on outmoded proxies for social worthiness, and how the law reflects deeply-held societal conceptions of what makes people believable. Her current works-in-progress focus on the Supreme Court’s recent credibility-related jurisprudence, judicial bending of evidentiary rules, and the need for reform of prior conviction impeachment.

Professor Simon-Kerr’s scholarship has been cited and relied on by multiple federal courts of appeals and state supreme courts, as well as being discussed in media outlets such as The Atlantic and National Public Radio. She is a co-chair of the Evidence Summer Workshop at Vanderbilt University, a founder and co-chair of the Prior Conviction Impeachment Reform Coalition, and she serves as the academic advisor to the Connecticut Code of Evidence Committee. Professor Simon-Kerr also has written on education law, gender and the law, and law and literature. Her paper Systemic Lying was selected for the Harvard/Stanford/Yale Junior Faculty Forum. In 2021 she was the recipient of the Perry Zirkel ’76 Distinguished Teaching Award.

Professor Simon-Kerr received her undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University where she won the Camp Prize for excellence in English literature. A 2008 graduate of Yale Law School, she joined the Law School faculty after two years as a Bigelow Fellow and lecturer in law at the University of Chicago Law School. Professor Simon-Kerr clerked for Justice Jaynee LaVecchia of the New Jersey Supreme Court and Judge Kermit V. Lipez of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Columns by Julia Simon-Kerr
SCOTUS Should Revisit Demeanor’s Role in the Courtroom

UConn School of Law professor Julia Simon-Kerr comments on a case that squarely presents the question whether the courtroom demeanor and body language of a non-testifying defendant can play a role in the jury’s consideration of guilt or innocence. Professor Simon-Kerr points out that despite research showing no evidence that we can learn much, if anything, about a person’s untruthfulness from nonverbal cues, jurors frequently rely on those factors in deciding the credibility of witnesses and, apparently, even the culpability of non-testifying defendants. She suggests that it although it is unlikely the Supreme Court will agree to hear the case, the case presents the Court with a unique opportunity to begin a long overdue reexamination of the privileged role of demeanor in our system of proof.