Skip Sub Menu

Mark W. Bennett Profile

Director of the Institute for Justice Reform & Innovation


Areas of Expertise

Federal Civil and Criminal Litigation, Implicit Bias, Federal Sentencing, Trial Advocacy, and Justice Reforms and Innovation


JD – Drake University Law School
BA – Gustavus Adolphus College

Professional Experience

U.S. District Judge, Northern District of Iowa 1994-2019 (Chief Judge, 2000-2007)
U.S. Magistrate Judge, Southern District of Iowa
Instructor at Drake Law School, University of Iowa College of Law, Nebraska College of Law, University of Hawaii William S. Richardson College of Law
Assistant Professor of Law Enforcement Administration, Western Illinois University
Visiting Professor of Political Science and Sociology, Criminal Justice Program, University of South Dakota
Private law practice, Des Moines, Iowa (specializing in employment law and discrimination, First Amendment litigation, civil rights and civil liberties litigation, federal criminal defense, and representation of licensed professionals in ethics issues)

Selected Publications

  • Looking Criminal and the Presumption of Dangerousness: Afrocentric Facial Features, Skin Tone, and Criminal Justice, 51 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 745 (2018) (co-author).
  • Judging Implicit Bias: A National Empirical Study of Judicial Stereotypes Beyond Black and White, 69 Fla. L. Rev. 63 (2017) (co-author).
  • Reinvigorating and Enhancing Jury Trials Through an Overdue Juror Bill of Rights: A Federal Trial Judge’s View, 48 Ariz. St. L. J. 481 (2016).
  • Unspringing the Witness Memory and Demeanor Trap: What Every Judge and Juror Needs to Know About Cognitive Psychology and Witness Credibility, 66 Am. U. L. Rev. 1331 (2015).
  • The Eight Traits of Great Trial Lawyers: A Federal Judge's View on How to Shed the Moniker: "I am a Litigator," 33 Rev. Litig. 1 (2014).

Significant Accomplishments

  • Presided over 300 jury trials in six federal courts spanning the Middle District of Florida to the District of the Northern Mariana Islands
  • Sat by special designation over a dozen times on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • Appeared in "The House I Live In," the 2012 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize award-winning documentary on the war on drugs
  • Presented at more than 500 CLE programs in 38 states and several foreign countries, and trained more than 2,500 state and federal judges on implicit bias across the country.
  • Argued in the U.S. Supreme Court less than four years out of law school
  • Recipient of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa's Louise Noun Award (2019)



Law School Calendar 
Law School News