Associate Professor of Law
Thea Johnson
Rutgers Law School
217 N 5th St
Camden, NJ 08102
(856) 225-6036
  • Biography
  • Publications
  • Courses Taught
  • Expertise

Professor Johnson is a scholar of criminal law and criminal procedure. Her scholarship focuses on the role of plea bargaining in the criminal legal system, including the ways in which stakeholders manipulate the plea process and stretch ethical boundaries to achieve particular outcomes.  Her article, “Fictional Pleas,” was selected for inclusion in the Yale/Stanford/Harvard Junior Faculty Forum and as the runner-up for the 2019 American Association of Law Schools’ Criminal Justice Section Junior Scholars’ Paper Competition. At Rutgers Law, Johnson received the 2022 Greg Lastowka Award for scholarly excellence. She is also the Reporter for the American Bar Association's Plea Bargain Task Force.  

Prior to joining the faculty at Rutgers Law, Johnson was an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Maine School of Law where she was awarded Law Professor of the Year in 2019 and 2020. She was also a Thomas C. Grey Fellow at Stanford Law School, and a public defender with both the Federal Defenders of New York and the Criminal Defense Division of The Legal Aid Society in New York.

Professor Johnson graduated from The George Washington University Law School where she spent a semester working for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. She received her degree in history from Harvard. Prior to law school, Professor Johnson taught 8th-grade English and social studies at Colegio Americano de Quito (The American School of Quito) in Ecuador. 



  • The Problem of False and Fictional Pleas, Book Chapter in The Cost of Bargains: Reflections and Recommendations from the ABA Plea Bargain Task Force (forthcoming 2023) (co-editor of book)


  • Plea Bargaining in the Virtual Courtroom, Book Chapter in Research Handbook on Plea Bargaining & Criminal Justice (forthcoming 2023)



  • Proving Prejudice After Lee v. United States: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel in the Crimmigration Context, 25 Harv. Latin Am. L. Rev. 11 (2022) (co-authored with Emily Arvizu)


  • Lying at Plea Bargaining, 38 GSt. U. L. Rev. 673 (2022) (selected for the 2022 Lastowka Award for Scholarly Excellence at Rutgers Law School)  


  • Making Space in the Criminal Law Classroom, Book Chapter in Integrating Doctrine and Diversity: Inclusion & Equity in the Law School Classroom (Spring 2021)


  • Crisis and Coercive Pleas, 110 Crim. L. & Criminology Online 1 (2020)  


  • Fictional Pleas, 94 Ind. L. J. 855 (2019) (selected for the 2018 Yale/Stanford/Harvard Junior Faculty Forum; selected as the runner-up for the 2019 American Association of Law Schools’ Criminal Justice Section Junior Scholars’ Paper Competition)


  • Public Perceptions of Plea Bargaining, 46 Am. J. Crim. L. 133 (2019)


  • Measuring the Creative Plea Bargain, 92 Ind. L. J. 901 (2017)


  • What You Should Have Known Can Hurt You: Knowledge, Access and Brady in the Balance, 28 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 1 (2015)


  • Why Not Treat Drug Crimes As White-Collar Crimes, 60 Wayne L. Rev. 1 (2015) (co-authored with Mark Osler)


  • Common Sense and the Cannibal Cop, 11 Stan. J. Civ. Rts. & Civ. Liberties 313 (2015) (co-authored with Andrew Gilden)


  • Guaranteed Access to Safe and Legal Abortions: The True Revolution of Mexico City’s Legal Reforms Regarding Abortions, 44 Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 437 (2013), (an earlier version of the article won the 2009 Alice Paul Feminist Jurisprudence Essay Contest, Washington School of Law, American University)  
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Criminal Trial Practice
  • Evidence