Suzianne Painter-Thorne

Associate Professor of Law
(478) 301-2647

Curriculum Vita

J.D. (Order of the Coif), University of California, Davis, School of Law, 2002
B.A. (with high honors, Anthropology), University of California, Davis, School of Law, 1999

Professor Painter-Thorne teaches American Indian Law, Client Counseling, Legal Writing, and Property. In addition to teaching, she has coached several moot court teams throughout her six years at Mercer and is the faculty advisor to Mercer’s Advocacy Council.

Professor Painter-Thorne’s scholarship focuses on the intersection of law and culture, with particular emphasis on American Indian law. Her recent publications include: Tangled Up in Knots: How Continued Federal Jurisdiction over Sexual Predators on Indian Reservations Hobbles Effective Law Enforcement to the Detriment of Indian Women, 41 NEW MEXICO L. REV. 239 (2011); If You Build it, They Will Come: Preserving Tribal Sovereignty in the Face of Indian Casinos & the New Premium on Tribal Membership, 14 LEWIS & CLARK L. REV. 311 (2010); One Step Forward, Two Giant Steps Back: How the “Existing Indian Family” Exception (Re)Imposes Anglo American Legal Values on American Indian Tribes to the Detriment of Cultural Autonomy, 33 AM. INDIAN L. REV. 329 (2009); Contested Objects, Contested Meanings: Native American Grave Protection Laws and the Interpretation of Culture, 35 U.C. DAVIS L. REV. 1261 (2002). She has also written about legal writing, including 7 Virtues of Appellate Brief Writing: An Update from the Bench, 38 SW. L. REV. 221 (2008), co-authored with the Honorable Harry Pregerson. Her current works-in-progress include A Strange Kind of Identity Theft: Can Cultural Identity Be Stolen?, which examines the “value” and “ownership” of cultural identity, and Be Careful What You Wish For: “Best Use” & Cultural Disregard from Johnson v. M’intosh to Kelo v. New London Township, which considers the effect of cultural bias in the application of the “best use” theory in property disputes.

After graduating from law school, Professor Painter-Thorne was a litigation associate at Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe in Sacramento, California. She then served as a law clerk to the Honorable Harry Pregerson on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit before joining the Mercer faculty in 2006. Professor Painter-Thorne is the managing editor of the Legal Communication & Rhetoric: JALWD. She is a member of the American Constitution Society, Association of Legal Writing Directors, the Legal Writing Institute, and the Society for American Law Teachers.

Professor Painter-Thorne received her J.D. (Order of the Coif) from the University of California, Davis, School of Law and her undergraduate degree with high honors in anthropology from the University of Maryland. She is a member of the California State Bar.