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Michael Vitiello

Michael Vitiello

Distinguished Professor of Law
B.A., Swarthmore College
J.D., University of Pennsylvania


Phone: 916.739.7323
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Office Hours

Monday and Wednesday from 10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., Tuesday and Friday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and by appointment.


"Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." — Theodore Roosevelt

Distinguished Professor of Law Michael Vitiello is a nationally-recognized expert on criminal law, sentencing policy, and marijuana law. His work on California's three-strikes law has been cited by the United States Supreme Court and the California Supreme Court. Since 2002, he has been a member of the American Law Institute, a prestigious independent organization committed to improving and modernizing law whose highly selective membership is comprised of the best legal minds in the country. Professor Vitiello is the author of 11 books and over 50 law review articles. His most recent book, Animating Civil Procedure, focuses on how the right wing of the Supreme Court has used procedural decisions to close the courthouse door on many prospective plaintiffs, thereby favoring corporate and other powerful interests over injured plaintiffs. His numerous articles on legalizing marijuana take a careful policy-oriented approach to that area of the law, insisting that, because legalization will occur, policy makers need to craft legislation to avoid undue social harm.

Prior to entering the legal academy in 1977, Professor Vitiello served as a law clerk to a Pennsylvania appellate court judge for three years. Thereafter, he received tenure at Loyola Law School in New Orleans, before visiting at Tulane Law School and the University of Mississippi Law School. He joined the McGeorge faculty in 1990. During his career, he has taught over fifteen different courses, with a special emphasis on Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure and Civil Procedure. He has also created courses in a variety of comparative law areas, most notably using the Amanda Knox case to compare the Italian and American criminal justice systems, and has taught in international programs run by McGeorge in London and Salzburg. In 2007, he received a Fulbright Senior Specialist grant and taught at the University of Parma. During the spring of 2016, he taught a course at the University of Salzburg on "Why European clients want to avoid suit in US courts and how to avoid suit there." In the spring of 2017, he will teach a seminar on marijuana and the law and from March through June of 2017, he will teach a course on "Recent Developments in American Criminal Law" at the University of Parma.

In his 40th year of teaching, he shows no signs of slowing down. Several years ago, he became the senior editor for a series of simulation books published by West Academic. That series, "The Bridge to Practice," allows professors to integrate skills training into traditional classrooms. He has published three books in that series, which he uses in his three main courses. He also organized several symposia for the McGeorge community, including symposia on legalizing marijuana, sex offenses, and sentencing reform. If he cannot be found in the classroom or in his office, students can find him in the gym, where they have trouble keeping up with his aerobic workouts. Since 1993, he has been a home-winemaker, often donating wine to various functions on campus.

Courses: Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure

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