Crocker, Phyllis L.

Dean and Professor of Law


  • Room: 202
  • Telephone: (313) 596-0210
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  • J.D. Northeastern University School of Law '85
  • B.A. Yale University '78
  • Curriculum Vitae

Dean Crocker became Dean of Detroit Mercy Law on July 1, 2014. She joined Detroit Mercy Law from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University, where she was on the faculty from August 1994 through June 2014, reaching the level of full Professor in 2005. She also served as Interim Dean (March 2010 – June 2011) and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (July 2006 – June 2010) at Cleveland-Marshall.

Dean Crocker is a nationally recognized authority on the death penalty. She has written extensively on the constitutional, historical, and cultural underpinnings of capital punishment. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Ryan v. Gonzales, 133 S.Ct. 696, 705 (2013), cited her article Not to Decide is to Decide: The U.S. Supreme Court's Thirty-Year Struggle with One Case About Competency to Waive Death Penalty Appeals, 49 WAYNE L. REV. 885 (2004) (lead article).

She has served on local, state, and national advisory committees. She chaired the American Bar Association Ohio Death Penalty Assessment Team that published Evaluating Fairness and Accuracy in State Death Penalty Systems: The Ohio Death Penalty Assessment Report (2007). In 2010, she was named to the Steering Committee of the ABA Death Penalty Due Process Review Project. In 2011, she was appointed to the Ohio Supreme Court and Ohio State Bar Association Joint Task Force to Review the Administration of Ohio's Death Penalty. She also served as a Commissioner on the Cuyahoga County Public Defender Commission and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

Dean Crocker has received several prestigious awards, most recently the 2010 YWCA Women of Professional Excellence Award and the 2009 and 2008 Cleveland State University Administrative Merit Recognition Award. She is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.

After graduating law school, Dean Crocker clerked for the Honorable Warren J. Ferguson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Subsequently, she was an associate for three years in a Chicago law firm specializing in complex federal civil litigation, including civil rights and commercial class actions. From 1989 to 1994, she was a staff attorney at the Texas Resource Center, a federally-funded community defender organization that represented indigents on death row in their post-conviction appeals. While there, she served as co-counsel on Herrera v. Collins, 506 U.S. 390 (1993), challenging the constitutionality of executing one who is innocent.