CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Saturday, April 2, 2005

CrimProf Spotlight: Rob Mikos of UC Davis

Rob_mikos_picture_1This week, CrimProf Blog highlights Rob Mikos of UC Davis.  Mikos writes:  I grew up in Fort Dodge, Iowa. My nine older siblings pursued a variety of careers (contractor, lawyer, banker, software engineer, etc.), but I never imagined I would one day become an “academic.”  I went to Princeton, where I earned my degree in public and international affairs, and joined a small strategy consulting firm in Boston upon graduation.

After a few years in business, however, I chose to enter law school. I hardly expected to enjoy the three years of legal education. I returned to the classroom mainly because I had a strong  desire to become a criminal prosecutor (my father’s furniture store was badly damaged by an arsonist while I was in college), and getting the J.D. was a necessary first step. The University of Michigan was the natural place to go, given that my wife Cindy had already begun her graduate studies in the Political Science program there.

Much to my surprise, I was immediately captivated by my legal studies. This was due, no doubt, to the skill of my first year professors, who included Omri Ben-Shahar, Evan Caminker, Yale Kamisar, and Jim Krier, among others. Omri, in particular, took me under his wing and introduced me to the study of law and economics, which influences my scholarship today. We even collaborated on a project that became my first accepted publication, The (Legal) Value of Chance, forthcoming in the American Law and Economics Review. At Michigan I immersed myself in the latest scholarship, frequently attending various workshops and serving as an articles editor of the Michigan Law Review. I graduated summa cum laude and was lucky enough to receive several honors, including the Henry M. Bates Memorial Scholarship.

After graduation from Michigan, I had the very good fortune to serve as a law clerk for Chief Judge Michael Boudin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The next year, I began my teaching career at the University of Michigan Law School while my wife Cindy finished up her Political Science Ph.D. We both joined the faculty at the University of California, Davis in the fall of 2003. I have taught Antitrust, Constitutional Law, and Law and Economics at the Law School.

My current research interests include federalism and criminal law. My first major article, Enforcing State Law in Congress’s Shadow (90 Cornell Law Review ___ (September 2005)) addresses both topics. The article analyzes federal statutes that impose sanctions (such as deportation, or loss of firearms privileges) on individuals who have been convicted of state crimes. It demonstrates that by raising the stakes involved in state criminal cases, federal sanctions may cause defendants to contest state charges more vigorously, thereby producing one of two unintended consequences. First, the sanctions may make it more costly for state prosecutors to enforce state laws. Second, due to resource constraints or dislike of the federal sanctions, state prosecutors may circumvent these statutes by manipulating charging decisions. But in the process, state prosecutors may have to reduce state sanctions as well, thereby undermining deterrence and the fair application of both state and federal law. The full text of the article is available at

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