Stephanos Bibas

Last updated on 19 November 2017

Stephanos Bibas (born 1969) is a United States Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, who previously was a professor of law and criminology at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He is a leading scholar of criminal procedure with expertise in criminal charging, plea bargaining and sentencing. As a professor, Bibas examined how procedural rules written for jury trials have unintended consequences when cases involving jury trials are the exception, rather than the rule, with 95 percent of defendants pleading guilty. Bibas also studied the role of substantive goals such as remorse and apology in criminal procedure.

Stephanos Bibas
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Taking office
Appointed by Donald Trump
Succeeding Marjorie Rendell
Personal details
Born 1969 (age 47–48)
Queens, New York, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Juliana Denise Bibas
Children 4
Education Columbia University (BA)
Oxford University (BA, MA)
Yale University (JD)


Bibas holds a J.D. from Yale Law School (1994), a B.A. and M.A. in jurisprudence from Oxford University (1991), and a B.A. in political theory summa cum laude from Columbia University (1989).[1]

Early life

Bibas was born in New York City and spent his summers growing up working for his father, a Greek immigrant who survived the occupation of Greece during World War II, in his family's restaurants. Starting in high school, he became involved in debate and public speaking. He graduated high school at the age of 15 and entered Columbia University.[2] He continued to develop his debate skills through the Philolexian Society and Parliamentary debate at Columbia University and at Oxford University, where he won the 1st place speaker award in the World Debate Championships. He graduated from Columbia University at the age of 19. At Yale Law School, he joined the moot court and was awarded prizes for the best oralist and best team, and also served as a symposium editor on the Yale Law Journal.[3]

Professional career

Since 2006, Bibas has been a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He received the Robert A. Gorman Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2008. Bibas previously taught at the University of Chicago Law School and the University of Iowa College of Law and was a research fellow at Yale Law School.[4]

Before beginning his academic career, Bibas was a federal prosecutor in the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, where he successfully prosecuted the world's leading expert in Tiffany stained glass for hiring a grave robber to steal priceless Tiffany windows from cemeteries.[5] Bibas also unsuccessfully prosecuted an alleged $7 theft at the VA hospital in New York.[6]

Early in his career, Bibas clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy (1997–1998) and Judge Patrick Higginbotham of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (1994–1995), and was a litigation associate at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C.[7]

Bibas is the 15th-most-cited law professor by the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. courts of appeal, and state high courts[8] as well as the 5th-most-cited professor of criminal law and procedure by law professors.[9]

Supreme Court Clinic

Bibas also directs Penn Law's Supreme Court clinic, for which he litigates a wide range of appellate cases under consideration by the US Supreme Court. The Clinic allows students to assist on real Supreme Court cases, including recruiting, strategising, researching, writing briefs, participating in moot court rehearsals, and attending oral arguments at the Court itself. The Court appointed him to brief and argue Tapia v. United States as amicus curiae.[10] The Court praised Bibas and the Clinic for doing "an exceptionally good job"[11] on that case.

Cases Argued

Federal Court of Appeals nomination

On 7 June 2017, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Bibas to serve as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.[12] On 19 June 2017, Donald Trump nominated Bibas to serve as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, to the seat vacated by Judge Marjorie O. Rendell, who took senior status on 1 July 2015.[13] On October 4, 2017 a hearing on his nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[14] On October 26, 2017 his nomination was reported out of committee by a 11-9 roll call vote. He was confirmed 53-43 by the Senate on November 2, 2017.

Selected publications

  • Rebooting Justice: More Techology, Fewer Lawyers, and the Future of Law (Encounter Books 2017) ISBN 159403933X: exploring the use of technology and procedural innovation to simplify and streamline complex court procedures to create a cheaper, simpler, faster justice system to control costs.
  • Supreme Court, 2011 Term—Comment: Incompetent Plea Bargaining and Extrajudicial Reforms, 126 Harv. L. Rev. 150 (2012): assessing the Supreme Court's recent plea-bargaining jurisprudence and predicting how judicial rulings will likely spur nonjudicial actors to better regulate plea bargaining.
  • Machinery of Criminal Justice (Oxford Univ. Press, 2012) ISBN 9780195374681: book about how criminal justice has moved from a lay-driven public morality play to a hidden, amoral, lawyer-run, plea-bargaining assembly line; what the US has lost in its quest for efficiency; and how the nation could swing the pendulum partway back toward greater transparency and public involvement.
  • Plea Bargaining Outside the Shadow of Trial (117 Harv. L. Rev.2463 (2004)): explores the agency costs, structural forces, and psychological biases that cause plea bargaining to deviate from expected trial outcomes.
  • Integrating Remorse and Apology into Criminal Procedure (114 Yale L.J. 85 (2004)), coauthored with Richard Bierschbach: advocates reforming criminal procedure to encourage more remorse, apology, and reconciliation.
  • Prosecutorial Regulation Versus Prosecutorial Accountability (157 U. Pa. L. Rev. 959 (2009)): explores the difficulties with external regulation of prosecutors by legislatures, judges, and bar authorities, and instead proposes ways to make head prosecutors more accountable to the public and to reform the inner workings of prosecutors' offices.

Personal life

Bibas is a registered Republican.[15] He and his wife Juliana Denise Bibas, also a writer, have four children.[16][17]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Early Entry to College Demands Maturity". The New York Times. 12 March 1989. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  3. ^
  4. ^ See CV, available at
  5. ^ Rohde, David (13 August 1999). "Expert Guilty in Scheme to Steal Tiffany Glass From Tombs". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  6. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (6 October 1999). "A Federal Case of Small Change; U.S. Prosecutes a Hospital Cashier Over $7 and Loses". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  7. ^ See CV, available at
  8. ^ Farris, Nick; Aggerbeck, Valerie; McNevin, Megan; Sisk, Gregory C. (18 August 2016). "Judicial Impact of Law School Faculties". SSRN 2826048Freely accessible.
  9. ^ "Brian Leiter's Law School Reports". Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  10. ^ Liptak, Adam. "Court Chooses Guardians for Orphaned Arguments". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Kagan, Elena. "TAPIA v. UNITED STATES Transcript". Oyez.
  12. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Announces Judicial Candidate Nominations" White House, June 7, 2017
  13. ^ "Eleven Nominations Sent to the Senate Today" White House, June 19, 2017
  14. ^ United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary: Nominations for October 4, 2017
  15. ^
  16. ^ Stiegler, Matthew (October 3, 2017). "Even more on Bibas". CA3 Blog. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  17. ^ Moran, Robert (November 2, 2017). "Senate confirms Penn professor for Third Circuit appeals court". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved November 18, 2017.


External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Marjorie Rendell
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit


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