Steven Wright

Clinical Professor

Steven  Wright

Room 4318L, Law School

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B.S. Duke University
M.E.M., Duke University
M.A., Johns Hopkins University
M.F.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison
J.D., Washington University in St. Louis


Steven Wright teaches both criminal appellate law.

His expertise in race, criminal practice and procedure, the courts and civil rights has appeared in, among others, the New York Times, the Washington Post, NBC's Today show, Bloomberg Radio, CBS NewsNBC News, National Public Radio, USA Today, Politico, CNN, and the Associated Press. His expertise has also appeared in international media outlets including The Australian Broadcasting Channel, the Canadian Broadcasting Channel, Japan's Asahi Shimbun.  

He appeared on C-Span's Washington Journal, where he shared his experience supervising federal election monitors. His innocence cases have appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Journal Times. He's also appeared on C-Span's Book TV

For the New York Review of Books, he's written essays about race, criminal justice, and election law. He's also published essays and Op-Ed's in The HillLithub, The Washington Post and Crimereads

His debut novel, the Coyotes of Carthage (Ecco, 2020) received strong praise from USA TodayPublisher's WeeklySalon, and the Washington Post, which called the novel, “riveting…. Those who pick up the book get a view of how the sausage of today’s politics gets made…. And [Wright] does so with a ticktock pace and knockout prose.” USA Today included Wright on its list of 100 Black Novelist you should read. The novel was shortlisted for the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, which recognizes achievement by African-American fiction writers. The novel was also a runner-up and finalist for the Hurston/Wright prize for best debut fiction.


Professor Wright is a clinical associate professor and founder of the Constitutional Litigation, Appeals, and Sentencing Project (CLASP).

He is also the former co-director of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, which seeks to exonerate the innocent. Professor Wright has also taught first-year criminal law, federal appellate practice and procedure, postconviction litigation, and appellate advocacy.

During his time with the Wisconsin Innocence Project, Professor Wright has participated in several exonerations including the exoneration of Daniel Scheidell and Sam Hadaway. He's also won cases in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. Professor Wright is a former member of the Wisconsin Judicial Council. From 2018-2019, he served as the chair of the appellate rules committee, which studies and recommends changes to the Wisconsin Rules of Appellate Procedure.

Before joining the University of Wisconsin faculty, Professor Wright was a trial attorney in the Voting Section of the United States Department of Justice. He litigated cases to enforce the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Acts, National Voter Registration Act, and the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act. He also clerked for the Honorable Lavenski Smith, United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Professor Wright has taught intermediate creative writing, introduction to creative writing, freshman composition, and a Fantasy and Science-Fiction Workshop. He's also taught creative writing at Johns Hopkins University, Madison College, and the Iowa Summer Writer's Festival. He earned his MFA from the University of Wisconsin, where he won The August Derleth Prize, which recognizes excellence in creative writing. He also won The Jerome Stern Teaching Award, which recognizes outstanding teaching by an MFA student.

In 2021, he was named an honored author by the Wisconsin Library Association.


Scholarship & Publications

Law Repository


  • Steven Wright presented "Opportunity in Public Interest Law" during a 2022 Academic and Leadership Retreat hosted by the Midwest Black Law Student Association at Marquette Law School on Sept. 17, 2022.

  • Steven Wright’s debut novel, "The Coyotes of Carthage," has racked up kudos and rave reviews, including most recently a nomination for the 2021 Legacy Awards Debut Fiction from The Zora Neal Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation. Additionally, the book received rave reviews from the likes of John Grisham, and has won the following accolades: Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, second place; 100 Black Novelist and Fiction Writers you should read, USA Today; and Best Crime Novels of 2020,

  • Steve Wright was elected to a three-year term on the University Academic Planning Council, a committee of the faculty at the UW–Madison.

  • Heinz Klug is chairing the search-and-screen committee to find a new UW Law dean. Other committee members include: Michelle Behnke, Roman Gierok, Erica Halverson, Alexandra Huneeus, Richard Monette, Yaron Nili, Kim Peterson, Howard Schweber, Mitra Sharafi, Susannah Tahk, Janice Toliver, Kathryn VandenBosch, Steven Wright, and Jason Yackee.

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