Professor Gerwig-Moore’s teaching and scholarship interests center around constitutional criminal law, appellate and post-conviction practice and procedure, prisoners’ rights, and other practical matters relating to serving the public interest.
Since coming to Mercer, she has created and now teaches The Habeas Project, the only pro bono effort in Georgia to focus on non-capital post-conviction cases. The clinic has briefed and argued dozens of cases—including cases of first impression in the state’s highest court—and has won relief for nearly half of its imprisoned clients. In Alford v. State, Sarah and clinic students urged the retroactivity of Alabama v. Shelton and won relief for their client along with a “Case of the Year” Award from the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. The clinic has also helped establish sleep-walking defense in Georgia (Smith v. State) and helped make favorable law in a number of cases related to knowing and intelligent guilty pleas.
She is a regular panelist or speaker on issues of land use, economic development, and constitutional criminal law/appellate practice. She has been counsel of record or co-counsel in nearly 100 reported cases in the state and federal courts. Her articles and essays include Fresh Ears, Fresh Eyes: Final Editing Through Reading Aloud, 63 MERCER L. REV. 971(2012); Gideon’s Vuvuzela: Reconciling the Sixth Amendment’s Promises with the Doctrines of Forfeiture and Implicit Waiver of Counsel, 81 MISS. L.J. 439 (2011), and Saving Their Own Souls: How RLUIPA Failed to Deliver on its Promises, 4 LEGISLATION AND POLICY BRIEF Vol 4. Iss. 1, Article 4 (2012).
In her work in Mercer’s Law and Public Service Program, Sarah remains engaged in public service within the law school and community. She is serving her second term (currently as Chair) with the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission. Sarah was also a founding Co-Chair College Hill Corridor Commission and founding member of the Steering Committee of the College Hill Alliance (www.collegehillmacon.com), which are both devoted to revitalizing Macon’s historic first neighborhoods. Other past and current board service includes The Central Georgia Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure (Grants Chair), the State Bar Indigent Defense Committee, and the Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative. To contribute to the social growth and development of the community, Sarah also writes the “Time Outs” column for The 11th Hour, a weekly magazine published to highlight entertainment and arts in Macon.
In addition to the Habeas Project, Sarah also teaches the Public Defender Clinic, Public Interest Practicum I and II, Introduction to Client Counseling, Seminar in the Jurisprudence of Crimes, and Introduction to Law Study. She is a Justice of the Mercer Law School Honor Court, the chair of both the faculty Public Service and Student Affairs Committees, and advises the Association of Women Law Students.
Before joining the Mercer faculty, Sarah was the Senior Appellate Supervising Attorney at the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council (the central office of the statewide public defender system). She received her BA, summa cum laude, from Mercer University, her Master of Theological Studies from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, and her JD from Emory University School of Law. Honors and awards include the Myki Mobley Award to the Academic Excellence and Social Concern (2002); the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia "Commitment to Justice" Award (2006); a two-time winner of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Case of the Year Award (2006 and 2009); Emory Law School’s Herman Dooyeweerd Prize in Law and Religion