A A Email Print Share

John T. Rago

Associate Professor of Law
School of Law

Room 225 School of Law
Phone: 412.396.6183


J.D., Law, Duquesne University, 1987
B.A., History, Duquesne University, 1979


Professor Rago's work in the area of criminal justice focuses on wrongful convictions within the broad context of collaborative policy-making and the establishment of science-based best practices for law enforcement and prosecutors. The guiding principal of his efforts is to establish policies and practices that are good for law enforcement, good for victims, and good for the accused.

Professor Rago is working with Allegheny County District Attorney, Stephen Zappala, and criminal justice stakeholders in Allegheny County to establish a conviction integrity unit in the Office of the District Attorney, one of only several such units in the nation. The chief purpose of this unit will be to enhance the integrity of our criminal investigations and prosecutions. The conviction integrity efforts underway in Allegheny County are also designed to provide a model for the commonwealth to pursue uniform science-based practices state-wide in such areas including, but not limited to, eyewitness identifications, electronic recording of custodial interrogations, and the preservation of evidence.

This ongoing effort flows from Professor Rago's work as chairperson of a 51-member statewide committee formed by the Pennsylvania State Senate to study wrongful convictions under the auspices of the Joint State Government Commission (2007 - 2011). Professor Rago's Report to the State Senate includes a series of legislative reforms and suggested practices which currently are under examination by the PDAA (Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association). Several Pennsylvania counties have begun to pilot some of these recommendations. These counties currently include Philadelphia County, Montgomery County, and Allegheny County. The Report can be accessed at: http://jsg.legis.state.pa.us/resources/documents/ftp/documents/9-15-11%20rpt%20-%20Wrongful%20Convictions.pdf.

Professor Rago has served on the Innocence Project's Northeast Policy Board and the Governor's Advisory Board on Probation. He is frequently consulted on matters of conviction integrity and post conviction claims of actual innocence.



  • Fundamentals of Criminal Procedure
  • Criminal Law
  • Wrongful Convictions
  • Agency
  • Urban Development Clinic
  • Veterans Clinic

In addition, Professor Rago teaches courses/seminars in the Bayer School Forensic Science and Law graduate program: Philosophy and Ethics in Science and Law, Wrongful Convictions, Constitutional Criminal Procedure, and Introduction to Forensic Science and Law (team taught with Dr. Fred Fochtman).