When S. David Mitchell leaves for work in the morning, he isn’t sure which hat to wear. Sometimes he is a law professor, and sometimes he is a sociologist. On most days he wears both hats at once—an interdisciplinary approach to research that seems to bode well. As an associate professor in MU’s School of Law, Mitchell’s teaching and research feed off each other, focusing on the intersection of society and the law. While his teaching covers topics ranging from torts and criminal justice administration—from “bail to jail”—the courses he gets most excited about involve his main area of research, including “Law and Society” and “Collateral Consequences of Sentencing.”
As one might expect, Mitchell has opinions about the recently proposed Missouri referendum that would have eliminated preferential hiring in public employment or education. The referendum was defeated because it failed to secure the needed signatures to be placed on the ballot. If there already was a substantial representation of diversity among students, staff, and faculty, he clarifies, then perhaps affirmative action would no longer be needed. “But until that day comes,” he concludes, “affirmative action is still a necessity.”
Mitchell teaches a broad range of courses, including a criminal justice administration course that he describes as “bail to jail”; a class about torts, which involve civil wrongs; and one called Law and Society, which examines the social context behind the law. The latter course clearly reflects Mitchell’s background in sociology, which has influenced both his pedagogy and his research. In Collateral Consequences of Sentencing, he covers felon disenfranchisement, felon exclusion laws, and prisoner reentry.