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Welcome from the Director

The Institute for Justice Reform & Innovation is led by The Honorable Mark W. Bennett (Ret.).

I am deeply honored to be named the first director of the new Drake Law School Institute for Justice Reform & Innovation (IJRI). Reform and innovation in the law have been important guideposts in my four-decade career as a lawyer, academic, U.S. magistrate judge, and U.S. district judge.

The institute will focus on a number of topics, including jury trial innovations; expedited civil jury trials; judge, juror, and attorney decision making; implicit bias, including Afrocentric facial feature bias; state and federal sentencing reform; and other aspects of civil and criminal justice.

The IJRI is devoted to education, empirical research, becoming a national repository for scholarship and resources on justice reform and innovation issues, training, education, and policy advocacy. We welcome your input and suggestions for areas of study by the Institute, as wel as any comments and concerns.

We at the IJRI look forward to hearing from you. Please email me at

Hon. Mark W. Bennett (Ret.)

Judge Bennett was appointed by President Bill Clinton as U.S. district court judge in the Northern District of Iowa in 1994-2019, and he served as chief judge of the district from 2000-2006. Previously, he served as a U.S. magistrate judge in the Southern District of Iowa and worked in private practice for 16 years.

Judge Bennett has authored more than 1,400 opinions and 24 law review articles in journals including the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology and the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. He has lectured across the country and trained over 1,500 trial and appellate judges on implicit bias.

For more information, see Judge Bennett's faculty profile.

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