William Ortman

William Ortman

Assistant Professor of Law


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 and 2020.

  • 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 (forthcoming 2021)

    The Defender General, 168 U. Pa. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2020) (with Daniel Epps)

    When Plea Bargaining Became Normal, 100 B.U.L. Rev. (forthcoming 2020)

    Second-Best Criminal Justice, 96 Wash. U. L. Rev. 1061 (2019)

    The Lottery Docket, 116 M. L. Rev. 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's forthcoming 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 Docket." Read the announcement
    • William Ortman co-authored with Daniel Epps an article titled, “The Lottery Docket,” which was published in the Michigan Law Review. Read the article here.
    • William Ortman’s  article “The Defender General,” which he co-wrote with Daniel Epps, was accepted for publication by the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.
    • William Ortman's latest paper, "When Plea Bargaining Became Normal," has been accepted for publication in the Boston University Law Review.
    • William Ortmanpresented When Plea Became Normal (forthcoming soon in the Boston University Law Review) at the Stanford/Harvard/Yale Junior Faculty Forum in August.
    • William Ortman'spaper, The Defender General (co-authored with Dan Epps and forthcoming this year in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review), was profiled in The AppealBloomberg Law and the New York Times. Also, Ortman and Epps wrote an op-ed based on the article, titled One Change that Could Make American Criminal Justice Fairer, for The Atlantic.