Kathleen M. Ridolfi

Professor Emerita

Kathleen “Cookie” Ridolfi is a Professor Emerita at Santa Clara University School of Law and the cofounder and former Director of the Northern California Innocence Project. In 2004, she co-founded the Innocence Network, an affiliation of organizations dedicated to pursuing exonerations on behalf of wrongfully convicted prisoners and working to redress the causes of wrongful conviction. She was lead researcher and co-author of Preventable Error, A Report on Prosecutorial Misconduct in California 1997-2009. From 2004-2008, she served on the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice tasked with the study and review of the administration of criminal justice in California.

In 2010, Professor Ridolfi launched the VERITAS Initiative, a research and policy program at Santa Clara University School of Law committed to pursuing data-driven justice reform. She remains committed to educating law students by teaching in the areas of criminal law, wrongful conviction, and legal ethics. Professor Ridolfi has been the recipient of numerous awards, including California Lawyer Magazine Attorney of the Year, Women Defenders Annual Award, and the ACLU’s Don Edwards Civil Liberties Award. She has also been recognized by the Daily Journal as one of the top 75 women litigators in California.


J.D., Rutgers University Law School, 1982

B.A., Rutgers University, 1976

Areas of Specialization

Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Criminal Justice Advocacy, Post-Conviction Procedure, Evidence, Trial Advocacy, Jury Selection, Battered Women, Clemency, Clinical Teaching, Wrongful Conviction and Ethics

Affiliations and Honors

  • Russell Galloway Professor of the Year
  • Commissioner, California Senate Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, 2004-08
  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation