JoAnne Sweeny

Assistant Professor of Law

JoAnne Sweeny's picture
JoAnne Sweeny teaches Basic Legal Skills and Writing For Practice.  Prior to coming to Louisville, she was a Westerfield Fellow at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law where she taught legal research and writing as well as a seminar in comparative constitutional law. She also recently completed her PhD in law at Queen Mary, University of London. She graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Psychology and a B.A. in Criminology from the University of California at Irvine. After graduating Order of the Coif from the University of Southern California Law School, she clerked for the Honorable Ferdinand F. Fernandez at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Professor Sweeny then practiced as an employment litigator at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP before venturing further into academia. While at Queen Mary, Professor Sweeny taught British constitutional law and legal writing skills to first year law students.

Professor Sweeny's research interests are wide-ranging but focus mainly on the problem of how law cannot keep up with technology or changing historical circumstances. Her current scholarly pursuits include international constitutional law, criminal law and legal history. Professor Sweeny's most recent criminal law research has focused on potential constitutional challenges to the prosecution of teenagers under child pornography laws because they have "sexted" each other nude or erotic photos of themselves. Her most recently published comparative law article, "The United Kingdom's Human Rights Act: Using its Past to Predict its Future" uses legal history techniques and social science theories such as Rational Choice Theory and Social Movement Theory to analyze the factors that led to the creation of the Human Rights Act in the UK and may also lead to its repeal in the near future. Her past articles have focused on emerging wage and hour problems that result from the practical problems of modern working situations, as well as the civil procedure issues inherent in the imposition of appellate sanctions for frivolous appeals.  Another comparative law article, "How the UK Human Rights Act Created a More Dangerous Branch," focuses on the impact the Human Rights Act has had on the British government branches and how they interact to create laws that impact human rights.

Courses Taught

Basic Legal Skills

Writing for Practice


Sexting and Freedom of Expression: A Comparative Approach, 102 Ky. L.J. 103 (2013).

How the UK Human Rights Act Created a More Dangerous Branch, 21 Mich. St. Int'l L. Rev. 301 (2013).

Do Sexting Prosecutions Violate Teenagers' Constitutional Rights? 43 San Diego L. Rev. 951 (2011).

The United Kingdom's Human Rights Act: Using its Past to Predict its Future, 12 Loy. J. Pub. Int. L. 39 (2010).

The FLSA in the Virtual Office: How to Employers Can Ensure They Have Fully Compensated Their Non-exempt Employees in the Age of the Blackberry, (with Jessica Linehan) XXVII Corporate Counsel R. 2 (2008).

Judicial Reasoning under the UK Human Rights Act, (publication review) [2008] Public Law 406.

The Price of Frivolity: A Longitudinal Study of California Appellate Sanctions, (with Benjamin Shatz) 28 Whittier L.R. 1087 (2007).

Filling in the Gaps: The Scope of Administrative Agencies' Power to Enact Regulations, 27 Whittier L. R. 621 (2006).

The Impact of Individualism and Collectivism on Shoplifting Attitudes and Behavior, 2 Univ. OF Cal., Irvine Research J. 8 (1999).


“The Human Rights Act and Public Perception,” Junior Scholars Virtual Colloquium (August 8, 2014).

 “Using International Law to Illustrate Core Concepts in Legal Writing and Research,” Legal Writing Institute Biennial Conference (June 30, 2014).

“The Unexpected Impact of Criminal Fornication Laws in the Modern Age,” Law and Society Association Annual Meeting (May 30, 2014).

“The Human Rights Act 1998 – A Villains’ Charter?” Developing Ideas Conference (May 21, 2014).

 “Anti-Terrorism and Indefinite Detention in the US and UK,” Loyola Constitutional Law Colloquium (Nov. 1, 2013).

“Anti-Terrorism and Indefinite Detention in the US and UK,” Junior Scholars Virtual Colloquium (July 17, 2013).

“Balancing Collaboration and Independence” (with Mary Algero), Association of Legal Writing Professors Biennial Conference (June 27, 2013).

“Using International Law to Explain Basic Legal Concepts,” Law and Education in the Americas: A Comparative Perspective (June 22, 2013).

“The State’s Historical Interest in Adultery,” Emerging Family Law Scholars (June 5, 2013).

“The History and Impact of Adultery and Fornication Criminal Statutes,” Developing Ideas Conference (May 10, 2013).

“Sexting and Freedom of Expression in the US and UK,” Younger Comparativists Conference      (April 19, 2013).

"The Unexpected Impact of Criminal Fornication Laws in the Modern Age," Central States Law Schools Association Annual Scholarship Conference (October 20, 2012).

"Measuring the Effectiveness of the United Kingdom's Joint Committee on Human Rights," Southeastern Association of Law Schools Annual Meeting (August 3, 2012).

"Fun with(out) BIG Words," Empire States Legal Writing Conference (June 23, 2012).

"Technology Matters: Child Pornography, Sexting and Freedom of Expression in the United States and United Kingdom," First Amendment Discussion Forum (June 13-14, 2012).

"Editing for an Audience," Legal Writing Institute One-Day Workshop in Columbus, Ohio (December 2, 2011).

"Do Sexting Prosecutions Violate Teenagers'Constitutional Rights?" Emerging Legal Scholarship: The Teaching Fellows Inaugural Conference (March 25, 2011).

"The Blueprint of a Successful Human Rights Movement," Emerging Legal Scholarship: The Westerfield Fellows Inaugural Workshops (March 23, 2010).

 "The Creation of the Human Rights Act 1998: How ‘Rational Choices' are Affected by Culture," Annual Conference for the Association for Law, Culture and Humanities (April 4, 2009).

"The History of the Human Rights Act, 1998, "Queen Mary Department of Law PhD Workshop (March 20, 2009).

"Using Practice to Research Legal Academia," Spectators or Players?  Examining the Role of Legal Academics in the Practice of Law (September 21, 2007).

University and Community Service

• Faculty advisor for Kentucky Intrastate Mock Trial team

•Faculty advisor for Student Bar Foundation

• Assistant Editor for Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute
• SEALS New Scholars Committee member
• Deputy editor for American Bar Association Section of International Law's Year in Review
• Contributor to SALT blog
• Created weekly blog with practical legal research and writing tips: