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The University of Houston Law Center Faculty

Sandra Guerra Thompson

Newell H. Blakely Chair;
Director, Criminal Justice Institute


Sandra Guerra Thompson is the Newell H. Blakely Professor in Law and Director of the Criminal Justice Institute at the University of Houston Law Center. She also helps to oversee the transformation of Harris County’s misdemeanor bail system as Deputy Monitor for the federal consent decree in the ODonnell v. Harris County settlement, and she is the Monitor for the Lomas v. Harris County consent decree regarding the integrity of the criminal charging process. She is the recipient of the University of Houston's Distinguished Leadership in Teaching Excellence Award in 2015, as well as the Teaching Excellence Award in 2003 and the Ethel Baker Faculty Award in 2000. She served for seven years on the board of directors which established Houston’s new pioneering crime lab, the Houston Forensic Science Center. Her book Cops in Lab Coats: Curbing Wrongful Convictions with Independent Forensic Laboratories (Carolina Academic Press 2015) draws on her experience with the Houston lab and her research on forensic science and crime lab regulation.

She has written articles on subjects including: wrongful convictions, eyewitness identifications, forensic science and crime labs, civil asset forfeiture, federal sentencing, discrimination in jury selection, prosecutorial ethics, police interrogations, and immigration crimes.

She received the 2020 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Education in the Community Award from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.  In addition to her work monitoring federal court cases, her community work includes chairing committees for the transition teams of Mayor Turner in 2016 and Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg in 2017. In 2012, Houston Mayor Annise Parker appointed her as a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Houston Forensic Science Center, serving as Vice Chair from 2015-2019. In 2009, she was appointed by Governor Perry as the representative of the Texas public law schools on the Timothy Cole Advisory Panel on Wrongful Convictions. 

Professor Thompson is an elected member of the American Law Institute and was appointed to the Board of Advisors for the Institute's sentencing reform project. In 2000, she served as Chair of the Criminal Justice Section of the Association of American Law Schools. She was named one of the top 25 Women of Vision in 2009 by Hispanic Business magazine. In 1996, she became the first Latina tenured law professor in the State of Texas.

During law school, she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal. She served as an Assistant District Attorney in the New York County (Manhattan) District Attorney's Office where she practiced both trial and appellate criminal law from 1988-1990. A native of Laredo, Texas, she was named a 2014 "Mustang Legend" by Laredo's J.W. Nixon High School, her alma mater.

B.A., Yale University; J.D., Yale University

Criminal Law
Hot Topics in Criminal Law and Procedure
Criminal Evidence