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Jeffrey Usman


Professor Usman received his Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Georgetown University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, his Juris Doctorate from Vanderbilt University Law School, graduating Order of the Coif, and his Master of Laws degree from Harvard Law School.  After graduating from law school, he clerked for the Honorable W. Harold Albritton of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama and the Honorable Mary Beck Briscoe of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  Professor Usman has also served as the senior law clerk for the Honorable William C. Koch, Jr. of the Tennessee Supreme Court and as an Assistant Attorney General for the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office.  A member of the Tennessee Bar, Professor Usman serves on the Tennessee Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee. 

Professor Usman is a frequent contributor to scholarly journals.  His published works have been relied upon by other scholars in books, treatises, and law review articles and referenced by a diverse array of persons including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India and the Tennessee Attorney General. He teaches Constitutional Law I & II, Criminal Constitutional Law, First Amendment and State Constitutional Law. Professor Usman also serves as a faculty advisor to Belmont’s Law Review and Legal Aid and Criminal Law Societies. He is a four time recipient of a Best Professor Award, which is bestowed by Belmont Law’s students.

Areas of expertise: Constitutional law, access to justice



The Twenty-First Century Death Penalty and Paths Forward, 37 Miss. C. L. Rev. 80 (2019) | SSRN

Presidential Authority & the Federal Death Penalty: A Response to Professor J. Richard Broughton’s the Federal Death Penalty, Trumpism, and Civil Rights Enforcement, 68 Am. U. L. Rev. F. 39 (2019) | SSRN

State Legislatures and Solving the Eighth Amendment Ratchet Puzzle, 20 U. Pa. J. Const. L. 677 (2018) | SSRN

Kinsler, Jeffrey and Usman, Jeffrey. Law Schools, Bar Passage, and Under and Over-Performing Expectations, 36 Quinnipiac Law Review 183 (2018). | SSRN

Defamation and the Government Employee: Redefining Who Constitutes a Public Official, 47 Loy. U. Chi. L.J. 247 (2015). | SSRN

Finding the Lost Involuntary Public Figure, 2014 Utah L. Rev. 951 (2014). | SSRN

Constitutional Constraints on Retroactive Civil Legislation: The Hollow Promises of the Federal Constitution and Unrealized Potential of State Constitutions, 14 Nev. L.J. 63 (2013). | SSRN

Capital Punishment, Cultural Competency, and Litigating Intellectual Disability, 42 U. Mem. L. Rev. 855 (2012). | SSRN

Good Enough for Government Work: The Interpretation of Positive Constitutional Rights in State Constitutions, 73 ALB. L. REV. 1459 (2010). | SSRN

The Game Is Afoot: Constitutionalizing the Right to Hunt and Fish in the Tennessee Constitution, 77 TENN. L. REV. 57 (2009). | SSRN

Ancient and Modern Character Evidence: How Character Evidence Was Used in Ancient Athenian Trials, Its Uses in the United States, and What This Means For How These Democratic Societies Understand the Role of Jurors, 33 OKLA. CITY U. L. REV. 1 (2008).

Non-Justiciable Directive Principles: A Constitutional Design Defect, 15 MICH. ST. J. INT'L L. 643 (2007).

Defining Religion: The Struggle to Define Religion under the First Amendment and the Contributions and Insights of Other Disciplines of Study Including Theology, Psychology, Sociology, the Arts, and Anthropology, 83 N.D. L. REV. 123 (2007). | SSRN

The Evolution of Iranian Islamism from the Revolution through the Contemporary Reformers, 35 VAND. J. TRANSNAT'L L. 1679 (2002). | SSRN