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On the Move

Dervan Named Director of Criminal Law Studies

May 23, 2018 Lucian Dervan

Professor Lucian E. Dervan was recently named the Director of Criminal Justice Studies for Belmont University College of Law. Professor Dervan joined the faculty in the fall of 2017, and is now preparing to begin his tenth year in the academy. He brings his love of teaching, dedication to service, and prominent scholarly agenda to Belmont.

Professor Dervan is a prolific scholar, whose writings have appeared in dozens of law reviews, psychology journals, and books. He is also the co-author of International Criminal Law: Cases and Materials (Carolina Academic Press) with Ellen S. Podgor and Roger S. Clark, co-author of a white collar crime trial advocacy text book entitled Peeling the Orange: White Collar Crime Trial Problem (Carolina Academic Press), founder and author of The Plea Bargaining Blog, and a contributing editor to the White Collar Crime Prof Blog (a member of the Law Professor Blogs Network).

One area of focus for Professor Dervan’s research is plea bargaining. In 2013, he and Dr. Vanessa Edkins published their influential article, “The Innocent Defendant’s Dilemma: An Innovative Empirical Study of Plea Bargaining’s Innocence Problem” (Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology), which demonstrated that more than 56% of innocent participants in their psychological study were willing to falsely confess to an offense in return for the benefits of a plea bargain. The study has now been replicated numerous times by other psychology labs, which continue to explore this phenomenon using versions of their study paradigm. This research by Professor Dervan received significant attention in the criminal justice community, including being discussed during Professor Dervan’s appearances before the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, in the Amicus Curiae brief filed by the Innocence Project in the recent Supreme Court case of Class v. United States, and in articles regarding plea bargaining in The Economist Magazine and The Wall Street Journal.

The findings from Professor Dervan’s 2013 study also led to his receipt of a grant from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership to conduct similar studies of plea bargaining and innocence in Japan and South Korea. This research, which is ongoing, will be used to assist South Korea in determining whether to permit plea bargaining, where the practice is currently prohibited. In Japan, which only recently adopted plea bargaining, the study will be of significance in identifying risks associated with bargained justice and in creating a strategy for the implementation of new rules of criminal procedure to address these concerns.

In addition to his scholarly pursuits, Professor Dervan is an active member of the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section, where he currently serves as Chair-Elect. Professor Dervan will assume the role of Chair of the Criminal Justice Section later this year. He is also the Chair of the ABA Global White Collar Crime Institute, a member of the International Criminal Justice Standards Task Force, and a member of the Criminal Justice Section Book Board Committee.

Professor Dervan can be reached at You can also follow him on Twitter at @LucianDervan.