Sandra L. Babcock

Babcock, Sandra L.

Clinical Professor of Law
Clinical Director, Center for International Human Rights

Phone: (312) 503-0114

Curriculum Vitae (pdf)

Related Links: Center for International Human Rights

Sandra Babcock is a Clinical Professor of Law and the Clinical Director of the Center for International Human Rights. She specializes in international human rights litigation, access to justice, death penalty defense, and the application of international law in U.S. courts. In her clinical teaching, she works with students in a wide variety of cases and projects, including the representation of Mexican nationals on death row, the representation of a detainee at Guantanamo, fieldwork designed to alleviate overcrowding in Malawian prisons, documentation of atrocities for the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, advocacy surrounding the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the development of international standards regarding the application of the death penalty worldwide. Professor Babcock began her career as a staff attorney at the Texas Resource Center, a non-profit dedicated to defending men and women facing the death penalty in Texas. She later spent five years working as a trial-level public defender in Minnesota before launching a private practice in international human rights and criminal law. From 2000-2006 she served as director of the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program, a program funded by the Mexican Foreign Ministry to assist Mexican nationals facing capital punishment in the United States. For her work, she was awarded the Aguila Azteca, the highest honor bestowed by the government of Mexico upon citizens of foreign countries, in 2003.

Professor Babcock has argued cases before the International Court of Justice, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and the Supreme Courts of California, Texas, Minnesota, and New Mexico. She has conducted human rights fieldwork in Liberia, Malawi, South Africa and Brazil. She is a member of the Minnesota and Texas Bars, the American Society of International Law, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the National Lawyers Guild. She is on the Steering Committee of the American Bar Association Moratorium Project as well as the Death Penalty Project of the Advocates for Human Rights. She speaks Spanish, Italian, French, and some German. In addition to her teaching at Northwestern, Professor Babcock has taught at law schools in Amsterdam, Ethiopia, and Texas. She has taught courses in gender rights, international law and the death penalty, human rights in the 21st century, and human rights clinical practice. Professor Babcock has received numerous awards for her work, including the Outstanding Legal Achievement Award from the Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Outstanding Legal Service Award from the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, the Access to Justice Award from the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association, the Volunteer Award from the Advocates for Human Rights, and was recognized as “Public Defender of the Year” by the Hennepin County Public Defender’s Office in 1997.

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Areas of Expertise

  • International Human Rights
  • Clinical Teaching
  • Access to Justice
  • Prisoners' Rights
  • Death Penalty

Selected Publications

  • Human Rights Advocacy in United States Capital Cases in THE CONTEMPORARY HUMAN RIGHTS MOVEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES (2007).
  • L’application du droit international dans les executions capitals auxEtats-Unis: de la théorie à la pratique in LA PEINE CAPITALE ET LE DROIT INTERNATIONAL DES DROITS DE L’HOMME (Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris II) , 2003).
  • The Global Debate on the Death Penalty in 34 human rights 17-20 (Spring 2007).
  • The Role of International Law in United States Death Penalty Cases in 15 leiden journal of international law (2002).
  • The Growing Influence of International Tribunals, Foreign Governments and Human Rights Perspectives in United States Death Penalty Cases (August 2005).


  • BA, Johns Hopkins University
  • JD, Harvard University

Recent Consulting Activities

  • Of Counsel, Government of Mexico