Phyllis L.  Crocker

Dean, School of Law
Professor of Law

Phyllis Crocker
Contact Info:
Campus: Riverfront Campus
Building: Dowling Hall
Room: 202
Phone: 313-596-0210
Phyllis Crocker
Areas of Expertise:
Criminal Law and Procedure
Death Penalty
International Criminal Law and Procedure
Social Justice


  • J.D. Northeastern University School of Law '85
  • B.A. Yale University '78


Dean Crocker became Dean of Detroit Mercy Law in July  2014. She joined Detroit Mercy from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University, where she was on the faculty from August 1994 through June 2014, becoming a full Professor in 2005. She also served as Interim Dean (March 2010 – June 2011) and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (July 2006 – June 2010) at Cleveland-Marshall.

Dean Crocker is a nationally recognized authority on the death penalty. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Ryan v. Gonzales, 133 S.Ct. 696, 705 (2013), cited her article Not to Decide is to Decide: The U.S. Supreme Court’s Thirty-Year Struggle with One Case About Competency to Waive Death Penalty Appeals, 49 Wayne L. Rev. 885  (2004) (lead article).

She serves on local, state, and national advisory committees. In Michigan she served on the State Bar of Michigan 21st Century Practice Task Force (2015-16). She has been a Trustee of the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association Foundation since 2014. Dean Crocker is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. 

While in Ohio she chaired the American Bar Association Ohio Death Penalty Assessment Team that published Evaluating Fairness and Accuracy in State Death Penalty Systems:  The Ohio Death Penalty Assessment Report (2007). She served on the ABA Death Penalty Due Process Review Project Steering Committee from 2010 to 2014. She was appointed to the Ohio Supreme Court and Ohio State Bar Association Joint Task Force to Review the Administration of Ohio’s Death Penalty (2011-14). She also served as a Commissioner on the Cuyahoga County Public Defender Commission and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

She is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. She served as co-counsel on Herrera v. Collins, 506 U.S. 390 (1993), challenging the constitutionality of executing one who is innocent.

After graduating law school, Dean Crocker clerked for the Honorable Warren J. Ferguson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Subsequently, she was an associate for three years in a Chicago law firm specializing in complex federal civil litigation, including civil rights and commercial class actions. From 1989 to 1994, she was a staff attorney at the Texas Resource Center, a federally-funded community defender organization that represented indigents on death row in their post-conviction appeals