Deborah Tuerkheimer is a professor at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, where she teaches and writes in the areas of criminal law, evidence, and feminist legal theory. She is the author of Flawed Convictions: “Shaken Baby Syndrome” and the Inertia of Injustice, co-author of the casebook Feminist Jurisprudence: Cases and Materials, and most recently, Credible: Why We Doubt Accusers and Protect Abusers (HarperWave).
In Credible, Tuerkheimer reveals how we are all shaped by false assumptions and hidden biases embedded in our culture, our legal system, and our psyches and offers a path forward to ensuring justice is truly served. Drawing on case studies, moving first-hand accounts, science, and the law, she identifies widespread patterns and their causes, analyzes the role of power, and examines the close, reciprocal relationship between culture and law—guiding us toward accurate credibility judgments and equitable treatment of those whose suffering has long been disregarded or dismissed. She also explores the pros and cons of restorative justice; what it means to be vindicated by the criminal justice system; and the accountability promised by civil suits. She offers solutions for dismantling the credibility complex including specific calls to action for how we can remake law and culture so that trust, blame, and care are no longer meted out along axes of power.
Tuerkheimer is a dynamic and informative speaker to corporate, university, and non-profit audiences. She brings her veteran legal career to life in her detailed, eye-opening, and integral presentations to audiences across the country.
Tuerkheimer earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard College and her law degree from Yale Law School. She served for five years as an Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, where she specialized in domestic violence and child abuse prosecution. In 2015, she was elected to the American Law Institute, an esteemed group of judges, lawyers, and legal scholars dedicated to the development of the law. She currently resides in Illinois.
Praise for Deborah Tuerkheimer:
“Deborah Tuerkheimer’s FAN event in support of her powerful book Credible was a highlight of our 2021 fall season. She combines a legal scholar’s keen intellect with an advocate’s passion to right wrongs. She is a fierce advocate for women, and presents her research and observations in a clear, compassionate, and compelling manner. She was thoughtful and open during audience Q&A, and was precise in her replies. We would welcome her back at any time.”
--Lonnie Stonitsch, Executive Director
Praise for Credible:
“Enlightening… a relevant and significant study that will leave readers reeling but also hopeful that this knowledge can be used to prevent assault and abuse.”
-- Library Journal (starred review)
“Powerful [and] essential. A necessary read urging individuals to start changing the way they think about allegations of abuse and the women who make them. “
-- Booklist (starred review)
“A persuasive analysis of the cultural and legal forces that ‘downgrade the credibility’ of sexual-abuse survivors. Tuerkheimer explains how doubt is ‘baked into law,’ which creates a ‘care gap’ that places more weight on the abuser’s suffering than the accuser’s. Packed with insight and empathy, this is an open-and-shut case for a more compassionate
form of justice.”
“The book’s analysis is both layered and nuanced, and the language is precise, passionate, and clear… an important addition to an ongoing conversation…[and] a trenchant analysis of how flawed notions about credibility fuel a wide variety of societal inequalities."
“This is not just an important book. It’s way more than that—it’s a new algorithm, an upending of long-held beliefs kept in place by law and culture. As I read the case studies about victims of sexual assault and harassment, I felt my own baked-in assumptions being rewired. Credible changed me from the inside out. As Deborah Tuerkheimer says, ‘Each of us is part of the solution, as we are all part of the problem. If we rewire ourselves to respond more fairly to the accusations that come our way, law reform and culture change will follow. Over time we can dismantle the credibility complex.’ “
--Elizabeth Lesser, bestselling author of books including Cassandra Speaks and Broken Open, cofounder of Omega Institute, and a member of Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul 100
“Deborah Tuerkheimer makes a brilliant, clear, and convincing legal case in Credible that justice for survivors requires basic changes in the law. But she makes an equally compelling plea for something with even more world-historical ambition: a transformation in the court of public opinion so that women’s dignity – and credibility – is finally seen as equal to men’s.”
--Jackson Katz, Ph.D., educator and author of The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help
“In Credible, Tuerkheimer tells a story that should already feel like familiar terrain: a range of stories of victim-survivors of sexual assault and harassment. What's different is that she traverses these stories through the lens of credibility, the ways in which its absence (or in rare cases, its presence) will make all the difference in someone's recovery and healing. This is essential reading not only for those deeply invested in #Me Too activism and scholarship and for victim-survivors who will finally feel seen, but also for anyone who has ever known a victim. Which is to say, Tuerkheimer's book is essential reading for everyone.”
--Donna Freitas, author of Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention