Mark A. Godsey

Headshot of Mark A. Godsey

Mark A. Godsey

Daniel P. and Judith L. Carmichael Professor of Law and Director, Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice/Ohio Innocence Project, Law Rosenthal Institute for Justice, College of Law

620L College of Law Building


Areas of Interest: Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence


Professor Godsey is a leading scholar, attorney and activist in the Innocence Movement.

In addition to teaching Criminal Law, Evidence and other courses at UC Law, Professor Godsey co-founded and directs the Ohio Innocence Project. The OIP is recognized as one of the most active and successful Innocence Projects in the country, and to date secured the release of 35 individuals on grounds of innocence who together served nearly 700 years in prison for crimes they did not commit.

Professor Godsey is also a regular commentator on issues relating to wrongful conviction in the national press.  His 2017 book Blind Injustice:  A Former Prosecutor Exposes the Psychology and Politics of Wrongful Convictions is considered a foundational work in the field of wrongful convictions. In 2019, The Cincinnati Opera premiered an original opera, Blind Injustice, inspired by the book and the stories of six of OIP's exonerees.

Professor Godsey and the OIP have also proposed several significant legislative reforms in Ohio, and worked tirelessly to get them passed into law. In 2010, for example, Governor Strickland signed Senate Bill 77, a law proposed and championed by the OIP that has been called "one of the most important pieces of criminal justice legislation in this state in a century," and a law that makes Ohio a "national model" on reforms to reduce and prevent the wrongful conviction of the innocent.  In 2018, Governor Kasich signed the OIP's exoneree compensation bill into law.  The OIP currently has a bill pending that would require police to record interrogations, and plan for a full legislative agenda in future years.

Professor Godsey has been a leading figure in spreading awareness of wrongful convictions around the world, and with assisting lawyers and scholars in other countries to establish mechanisms for fighting wrongful convictions. He has lectured and consulted on the subject in Asia, Africa and Europe, including before the Supreme Courts of China and Poland, and helped establish the European Innocence Network.  He is currently working with a global coalition of lawyers and activists to make the right of incarcerated persons to DNA testing and other methods to prove their innocence and obtain their freedom declared an international human right by the United Nations.  

Professor Godsey graduated from the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University and then clerked for Chief Judge Monroe G. McKay of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Salt Lake City, Utah. He then practiced civil litigation and white collar-criminal defense at Jones, Day in Chicago and New York City.

Next, Professor Godsey joined the Department of Justice as an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) for the Southern District of New York, where he prosecuted federal crimes ranging from political corruption to hijacking to organized crime. He received several awards for his performance as an AUSA, including the Director's Award for Superior Performance, presented to him by then-Attorney General Janet Reno.

In 2022, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in humanities by Xavier University for his decades of work to free the innocent and delivered the undergraduate commencement address.


BS, Northwestern University
JD, The Ohio State University

Courses Taught

  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure I
  • CSI the Myth
  • Evidence
  • Ohio Innocence Project
  • Research Seminar: Wrongful Convictions
  • The Wire (based on HBO show)


  • Innocence As an International Civil Rights Movement, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, June 2015
  • Human Flaws and Wrongful Convictions Across International Boards, University of Milan, Italy, June 2014
  • Innocence and Wrongful Convictions in the U.S. and China, Sichuan University School of Law, Chengdu, China, October 2013
  • The International Expansion of the Innocence Movement, Nehru Memorial Museum, New Delhi, India
  • Wrongful Convictions and the Adversarial Process, Constitutional Tribunal of Poland, Warsaw, Poland, May 2012
  • Wrongful Convictions in the International Arena:  Remnin University, Beijing, China, October 2011
  • The Expansion of the Innocence Movement Internationally, Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg, South Africa, July 2010


  • Recognized by the Ohio Council for the Social Studies, the state’s largest professional organization devoted to advancing social studies education, for its inaugural “Humanitarian Award,” September 2017.
  • 2015 Rose Elizabeth Bird Commitment to Justice Award, Death Penalty Focus
  • 2015 Cincinnati Human Relations Commission Champion for Connecting Cultures and Communities Award
  • 2007 TIAA-CREF Award for Distinguished Public Service
  • 2004 Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching
  • 2004 Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award
  • 2004 Parker/McFarland Award for Excellence
  • 2004 Superstar of Criminal Law Award
  • 2003 Lukowsky Award for Teaching Excellence