Photo of Lea Johnston

E. Lea Johnston

Professor of Law
Assistant Director, Criminal Justice Center



Mailing Address:
Box #117625 Gainesville, FL 32611


(352) 273-0794

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. A productive scholar, Johnston has appeared in the Washington University Law Review, the Notre Dame Law Review, the UC Davis Law Review, the Fordham Law Review, the Georgia Law Review, and the Washington Law Review among others. In 2012, the California Supreme Court quoted Johnston’s proposed standard for representational competence and endorsed its use by courts and experts. Her work has been widely cited by legal scholars and appears in leading treatises in criminal law, constitutional law, and criminal procedure. Her work has also received attention from social scientists, and her theory of sentencing forms part of the theoretical framework for the standard textbook for forensic psychiatry fellowship programs.

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.

Professor Johnston's scholarship can be found on:


A.B., Princeton University; J.D. (cum laude), Harvard Law School


  • Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Mental Health Law.

Criminal Law (3 credits) - LAW 5100

Criminal Procedure – Adversary System (3 credits) - LAW 6112

Sentencing (2 credits) - LAW 6936

Mental Health Law

Immigration (2-3 credits) - LAW 6264

Law & Psychiatry (3 credits) - LAW 6930


  • Communication and Competence for Self-Representation, 84 Fordham Law Review __ (2016)
  • Modifying Unjust Sentences, 49 Georgia Law Review 433 (2015)
  • Smoke and Mirrors: Model Penal Code § 305.7 and Compassionate Release, 4 Wake Forest Journal of Law & Policy 49 (2014)
  • Conditions of Confinement at Sentencing: The Case of Seriously Disordered Offenders, 63 Catholic University Law Review 625 (2014)
  • Vulnerability and Desert: A Theory of Sentencing and Mental Illness, 103 Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 147 (2013)
  • Theorizing Mental Health Courts, 89 Washington University Law Review 519 (2012)
  • Representational Competence: Defining the Limits of the Right to Self-Representation at Trial, 86 Notre Dame Law Review 523 (2011)
  • 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 Law Review 1605 (2010)
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