Lea Johnston's Blog

Lea Johnston is a leading expert on mental health and criminal law and procedure. Her scholarship has explored the theoretical underpinnings of mental health courts, the sentencing of mentally disordered offenders, and competency standards for self-representation. Recent publications include Communication and Competence for Self-Representation, 84 FORDHAM L. R. __ (2016); Modifying Unjust Sentences, 49 GA. L. REV. 433 (2015); Conditions of Confinement at Sentencing: The Case of Seriously Disordered Offenders, 63 CATH. U. L. REV. 625 (2014); Vulnerability and Desert: A Theory of Sentencing and Mental Illness, 103 J. CRIM. L. & CRIMINOLOGY 147 (2013); Theorizing Mental Health Courts, 89 WASH. U. L. REV. 519 (2012); Representational Competence: Defining the Limits of the Right to Self-Representation at Trial, 86 NOTRE DAME L. REV. 523 (2011); and Setting the Standard: A Critique of Bonnie’s Competency Standard and the Potential of Problem-Solving Theory for Self-Representation at Trial, 43 UC DAVIS L. REV. 1605 (2010). In 2012, the California Supreme Court quoted Johnston’s proposed standard for representational competence and endorsed its use by courts and experts. Johnston’s theory of sentencing formed the theoretical framework for presentencing evaluations in Principles and Practice of Forensic Psychiatry, the standard textbook for forensic psychiatry fellowship programs. Her work has been widely cited by scholars and appears in leading treatises in criminal law, constitutional law, and criminal procedure.

Professor Johnston earned her A.B. from Princeton University and her J.D. (cum laude) from Harvard Law School. She previously served as a litigation associate at Arnold & Porter LLP in Washington, D.C., and director of the Maryland Public Interest Research Group in Baltimore, MD. Johnston clerked for Judge Richard Tallman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Johnston is currently a Professor of Law and Assistant Director of the Criminal Justice Center at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

Visit her Faculty Profile

Visit her SSRN author page