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Uhlmann, David M.

Jeffrey F. Liss Professor from Practice
Director, Environmental Law and Policy Program

909 Legal Research
David M. Uhlmann is the Jeffrey F. Liss Professor from Practice, the director of the Environmental Law and Policy Program, and a Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Sustainability. His research and advocacy interests include corporate crime, criminal and civil enforcement of environmental laws, and climate change and sustainability. Since joining the Michigan Law faculty in 2007, Professor Uhlmann has published in the Michigan Law Review, the Harvard Environmental Law Review, the Stanford Environmental Law Journal, the Maryland Law Review, the UC Davis Law Review, the Utah Law Review, the Michigan Journal of Environmental and Administrative Law, the Environmental Law Forum, and the American Constitution Society's Issue Briefs series. Professor Uhlmann leads the efforts of more than 150 Michigan Law students participating in the Environmental Crimes Project, the first comprehensive empirical study of criminal enforcement under U.S. pollution laws. His first article regarding the Environmental Crimes Project, "Prosecutorial Discretion and Environmental Crime," received honorable mention as the top environmental law article of 2014. Professor Uhlmann has testified before Congress, appeared on CNN, Frontline, NPR, and other national news stations and programs, written multiple op-eds in The New York Times, and lectured widely about environmental crime and sustainability issues. Prior to joining the Michigan faculty, Professor Uhlmann served for 17 years at the U.S. Department of Justice, the last seven as chief of the Environmental Crimes Section, where he was the top environmental crimes prosecutor in the country. He led an office of approximately 40 prosecutors responsible for the prosecution of environmental and wildlife crimes nationwide. Professor Uhlmann coordinated national legislative, policy, and training initiatives regarding criminal enforcement and chaired the Justice Department's Environmental Crimes Policy Committee. He also served as vice chair of the annual American Bar Association's Environmental Law Conference and was on the planning committee for the ALI-ABA Criminal Enforcement of Environmental Laws Seminar. His work as lead prosecutor in United States v. Elias was chronicled in the book The Cyanide Canary (Free Press, 2004). Professor Uhlmann received a JD from Yale Law School and a BA in history with high honors from Swarthmore College. Following law school, he clerked for the Hon. Marvin H. Shoob of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta.

Recent Publications

"New Enviromental Crimes Project Data Shows That Pollution Prosecutions Plummeted During the First Two Years of the Trump Administration." Environmental Crimes Project (2020): 1-16.
Full Text: MLaw Repository | SSRN

"Back to the Future: Creating a Bipartisan Environmental Movement for the 21st Century." Environmental Law Reporter 50, no. 10 (2020).
Full Text: MLaw Repository

"Corporate and Individual Prosecution for Environmental Crime." (Work in Progress).

"Prosecutorial Discretion and Environmental Crime Redux: Charging Trends, Aggravating Factors, and Individual Outcome Data for 2005-2014." Mich. J. Envtl & Admin. L. 8, no. 2 (2019): 297-370.
Full Text: MLaw Repository | HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN | Lexis | Westlaw | SSRN

"Environmental Protection Through Law: The Role of Corporate Criminal Prosecution." JUS 2016, no. 1 (2016): 23-48.

"Protection of the Environment Through Criminal Law: An American Perspective." RIDP (Int'l Rev. Penal L.) 87, no. 1 (2016): 5-23. (Originally presented at the International Association of Penal Law (AIDP) World Conference: Protection of the Environment Through Criminal Law in Bucharest, Romania, from May 18-20, 2016.)

"The Pendulum Swings: Reconsidering Corporate Criminal Prosecution." UC Davis L. Rev. 49, no. 4 (2016): 1235-83
Full Text: MLaw Repository | HEIN(UMich users) | HEIN | Lexis | Westlaw | SSRN | WWW


Presented (virtually) for the DC Bar "Can the Biden Administration Reverse the Decline in Pollution Prosecutions During the Trump Years?," March 2021.

"Climate Justice and Sustainability," presented to University of Michigan, Central Student Government Fireside Chat Series, online, February 2021.

"Back to the Future: Creating a Bi-Partisan Environmental Movement for the 21st Century," presented to Rotary Club of Ann Arbor, online, January 2021.

Presented "Who Calls the Shots? Enforcement in the Midst of Federal Deregulation" panel discussion to the ABA Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources Fall Conference, online, October 2020.

​Authored "The Climate Crisis Is Still a Crisis" for The Atlantic, August 2020.

​Interviewed on NPR's Science Friday broadcast "Environmental Protection Apocalypse: What's Happening at the EPA," May 2020.

​Authored "BP Paid a Steep Price for the Gulf Oil Spill But for the US a Decade Later It's Business as Usual" for The Conversation, April 2020.

Presented "Drawing a Line: When Should Violations of Environmental Law Trigger Criminal Prosecution?" panel discussion, to ABA National Enforcement Conference, Washington, D.C., November 2019.

Presented "Nation and Globe: Future of the EPA" at the 29th Annual Conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists, Fort Collins, Colorado, October 2019.

Presented "How to Improve Environmental Law" at the annual conference of the American College of Environmental Lawyers, Jackson, Wyoming, October 2018.

Presented "Corporate Prosecution of Environmental Crime" at the Environmental Law Colloquium, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Chicago, March 2018.