Heather E. Cucolo ’03
Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Law
Heather Ellis Cucolo has been teaching at New York Law School since 2007. She has also served as the acting facilitator of the joint J.D./M.A. program with John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the acting director of the Online Mental Disability Law Program. She has taught a variety of courses at NYLS in the areas of criminal law and mental disability law.
Professor Cucolo also co-designed a course for Emory University School of Law, Legal and Ethical Controversies in Health Care and is an adjunct professor in their law school's online program. She is appointed as fellowship faculty at Albert Einstein College of Medicine where she lectures doctoral students on legal research and legal practice for expert clinicians.
Outside of teaching, Professor Cucolo is the co-owner of Mental Disability Law and Policy Associates with emeritus professor Michael L. Perlin, and she serves on the Board of Trustees of the International Society of Therapeutic Jurisprudence. Formerly, in her full-time legal practice, Professor Cucolo dedicated her career to representing individuals at trial facing civil commitment under both the New Jersey Mental Hygiene Law and New Jersey’s Sexually Violent Predators Act. She authored and argued appeals before the New Jersey Appellate Division with over 27 reported decisions.
Professor Cucolo has been recognized as a top expert in sexual violent predator law and has counseled attorneys, judges, and clinicians on law and procedure in civil commitment proceedings and issues involving persons suffering from a mental disability or illness within the criminal justice system. She has been quoted in numerous media sources on sex offender legislation and on the use of excessive force in policing. Professor Cucolo has presented her work—at domestic and international academic conferences—in the areas of professional ethics, mental disability law, criminal law, and sex offender law. She has published four textbooks and over 18 law review articles with mentions in an Eastern District of New York court decision and an Iowa appellate decision. She was honored to receive the Otto L. Walter Distinguished Writing Award for two consecutive years in 2018 and 2019.
Professor Cucolo’s international work has included: expert testimony on extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States for persons convicted of a sex offense; pro bono advocacy for LawAid International; speaking at the United Nations on the rights of persons with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region; and the creation of an instructional course on disability legislation for attorneys in Japan.