William Ortman

William Ortman

Associate Professor of Law, Edward M. Wise Research Scholar


Room 3259
(313) 577-3962

William Ortman

  • Biography

    William Ortman writes about the legal and institutional design of criminal justice. His current scholarship focuses on plea bargaining, the practice that accounts for the vast majority of criminal convictions in American courts. Before joining Wayne Law, Ortman taught legal research and writing as a Climenko Fellow at Harvard Law School. From 2007 to 2013, he was a criminal defense lawyer and commercial litigator in Des Moines, Iowa. Before that, he clerked for Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Ortman earned his law degree with highest honors from the University of Chicago Law School, and a bachelor of arts with highest honors from Swarthmore College.

    Since joining the Wayne Law faculty in 2016, Ortman has taught criminal law, evidence, administrative law and a seminar on advanced topics in criminal law and procedure. He has been voted Professor of the Year by Wayne Law’s upper-level students three times, in 2018, 2019, 2020, and by its first-year student once, in 2021.

  • Degrees and Certifications

    J.D., University of Chicago Law School
    B.A., Swarthmore College

  • Selected Publications

    Confrontation in the Age of Plea Bargaining, 121 Columbia Law Review 451 (2021)

    The Defender General168 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 1469 (2020) (with Daniel Epps)

    When Plea Bargaining Became Normal, 100 Boston University Law Review 1435 (2020) (Selected for Stanford/Harvard/Yale Junior Faculty Forum)

    Second-Best Criminal Justice, 96 Washington University Law Review 1061 (2019)

    The Lottery Docket, 116 Michigan Law Review 705 (2018) (with Daniel Epps)

    The Yates Memo Versus Administrative Law, 165 University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online 191 (2017)

    Probable Cause Revisited, 68 Stanford Law Review 511 (2016)

    Rulemaking's Missing Tier, 68 Alabama Law Review 225 (2016)

    Chevron for Juries, 36 Cardozo Law Review 1287 (2015)

  • Social Science Research Network
  • Accomplishments
    • William Ortman presented When Plea Bargaining Became Normal (forthcoming, Boston University Law Review) at the Stanford/Harvard/Yale Junior Faculty Forum in August 2020.
    • William Ortman's paper, The Defender General (co-authored with Daniel Epps, forthcoming, University of Pennsylvania Law Review), was profiled in The AppealBloomberg Law and The New York Times. Ortman and Epps wrote an op-ed based on the article, titled One Change that Could Make American Criminal Justice Fairer, for The Atlantic.
    • William Ortman's paper for the Michigan Law Review, co-authored with Professor Daniel Epps, won an honorable mention award at the 2018 AALS Scholarly Papers Competition. The paper is titled The Lottery DocketRead the announcement