Evidence; Advanced Evidence; Criminal Law; Criminal Procedure; Criminal Law Ethics
Michael Mears is an Associate Professor at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School where he teaches Evidence, Advanced Criminal Procedure, and Ethics. He received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in Teaching degrees from Mississippi State University. Michael is a graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law (Class of 1977). Michael served as the Mayor of the City of Decatur, Georgia from 1985 – 1993.
Michael was awarded the Elbert P. Tuttle Jurisprudence Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Southeast Regional Anti-Defamation League, February, 2009; He was awarded the Liberty Bell Award by the Atlanta Bar Association 2008; and was named named as a Georgia Super Lawyer for the years 2004, 2005, and 2006 by Atlanta Magazine. In 2003, Michael was selected to be the founding Director of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council after serving for over ten years as the Director of the Multi-County County Public Defender Office, a state-wide death penalty public defender service funded by the State of Georgia. He retired from that position in 2007 and has been an Associate Professor of Law at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School since his retirement from the Public Defender Standards Council. In addition to his teaching duties, Michael has also served as the Associate Dean of the Law School for Academic Affairs. Michael has also been selected as a visiting scholar at Bahcesehir University Law School in Istanbul, Turkey.
Michael is the author of numerous articles and books including “Objections: Preventing Errors in Criminal Trials;” “A Brief History of The Georgia Indigent Defense Counsel: Twenty-Five Years of Struggle to Provide Adequate Counsel for The Poor; “The Death Penalty in Georgia – A Modern History, 1970 -2000; and “The Defense Attorney’s Ethical Response to Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims, Copyright 2002. In 2006, Michael presented a keynote paper to the W.E.B. DuBois Institute of Clark Atlanta University’s Annual Spring Conference entitled “A Strategy for Confronting Racial Discrimination in the Use of the Death Penalty in Georgia.” His most recent law review article “A Student’s Brief History of the United States Federal Rules of Evidence,” was published in the Bahcesehir University (Istanbul, Turkey) Law Faculty of Law, Law Journal, Volume 7, Number 81-82 (2011), ISSB 1304-7949.
An American Tragedy: The Story of Johnny Lynn Old Chief, Journal Jurisprudence, Volume 35, page 65, March 2018.
A Layman’s Guide To Criminal Law In Georgia, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Press, August 2023.
End the Reliance on Volunteer Lawyers in Death Sentence Appeals, Daily Report, American Law Media, Volume 123, Number 76, Tuesday, April 17, 2012.
A Student’s Brief History of the United States Federal Rules of Evidence, Bahcesehir University Law Faculty of Law, Law Journal, Volume 7, Number 81-82 (2011), ISSB 1304-7949.
Objection! A Guide to Preventing Errors in a Criminal Trial, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Press, March 2010.
Confronting Racial Discrimination: In Use of the Death Penalty in Georgia, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Law Journal, Volume I, Number 1, Spring 2008.
The Challenge of Fingerprint Comparison Opinions in the Defense of a Criminally Charged Client, Georgia State University Law Review, Volume 19, Number 3, Spring 2003.
Seeking Sanctuary: Interviews with Family Members of Capital Defendants, (Co-Authored with Elizabeth Beck, Ph.D., Brenda Sims Blackwell, Ph.D., Pamela Blume Leonard, B.S.), Cornell Law Review, Volume 88, Number 2, January 2003.
Death Penalty Law, Mercer Law Review, Volume 54, Fall 2002, Number 1.
Representing the Unpopular Client After September 11th, Georgia Bar Journal, Volume 7, Number 5, April 2002.
Death Penalty Law, Mercer Law Review, Volume 53, Number1, Fall 2001.
Georgia Death Penalty Law, Mercer Law Review, Volume 52, Number 1, Fall 2000.
The Death Penalty in Georgia – A Modern History, 1970 -2000, The Georgia Indigent Defense Council, Professional Education Division Publications, Randco Printing, Copyright 2000.
The Defense Attorney’s Ethical Response to Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims, Georgia Bar Journal, Volume 5, No. 2, October 1999.
Guilty, Not Guilty, or Innocent?, The Champion, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, June, Copyright 1997.
Earning and Collecting Reasonable and Adequate Fees in Appointed Criminal Cases, Georgia Bar Journal, Vol. 3 No. 2, October, 1997.
Media, Public & Professional Appearances
Atlanta Magazine, A question of justice: When should a district attorney heed the wishes of crime victims? (3/25/15)
GPB Radio – Two Way Street, Comments on Robert Durst’s defense, re: HBO’s The Jinx (3/21/15)
GPB Radio – On Second Thought, Suing the State from Death Row (3/19/15)
GPB Radio – On Second Thought, Georgia Prepare’s to Execute Latest Death Row Inmate (1/27/15)
Professor Mears is a frequent contributor on NPR and WPBA as an expert on the death penalty in Georgia.
Outside the Classroom
Professor Mears currently serves as the Chairperson of the Institute of Continuing Legal Education. He has previously served as a member of the State Bar of Georgia’s Committee on Indigent Defense and as a member of the State Bar’s Post-Conviction Committee.