Professor Cheryl Brown Wattley joined the inaugural faculty of the UNT Dallas College of Law from the University of Oklahoma College of Law, where she served on the faculty from 2006 through 2013, and was Professor of Law and Director of Clinical Education. At UNT Dallas College of Law, Professor Wattley will teach Criminal Law in the first-year curriculum; she will also be the Director of Experiential Education and teach courses in professional skills, criminal law, and professionalism. Professor Wattley is the author of a new book, "A Step Toward Brown v. Board of Education: Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher and Her Fight to End Segregation," published in October 2014, and winner of the 2015 Oklahoma Book Award, Non-Fiction category.
Professor Wattley graduated from Smith College, cum laude, with high honors in Sociology. She received her Juris Doctorate degree from Boston University College of Law, where she was a Martin Luther King, Jr. fellow and recipient of the Community Service Award. She also served as a summer intern for the General Counsel's Office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Professor Wattley began her legal career as an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Connecticut representing the United States in civil litigation. Through her actions, the United States participated as litigating amicus curiae in Connecticut ARC v. Thorne, the lawsuit that led to the entry of a consent decree overhauling the system for serving persons with mental retardation in Connecticut.
She later transferred to the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas, located in Dallas, where she focused on the prosecution of white collar crime and served as Chief of the Economic Crime Unit. During her service as a prosecutor, she received two Department of Justice Special Achievement Awards, the United States Postal Inspection Service National Award, and commendations from the Department of Treasury, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Customs Department.
Professor Wattley then went into private litigation practice, where her work included white-collar criminal defense, civil rights litigation, federal and state criminal defense, and post-conviction proceedings. After joining the OU College of Law faculty in 2007, Professor Wattley continued to represent clients on a pro bono basis, primarily involving post-conviction relief.
Professor Wattley continues to work with Centurion Ministries, a non-profit organization based in Princeton, New Jersey, devoted to the vindication and liberation of persons wrongfully convicted and imprisoned. Through Centurion, she served as one of the attorneys for Kerry Max Cook, a former Texas death row inmate. In 2009, Professor Wattley represented Richard Miles in his release from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Professor Wattley has served on a variety of civic and professional boards and committees, including the State Bar of Texas Board of Disciplinary Appeals; District 6 Grievance Committee; Dallas Bar Foundation; and the Board of Regents for Texas Woman's University. She was appointed to serve on "Dallas Together," a mayoral committee appointed to address racial issues within the City of Dallas, and also was appointed Vice Chairperson for the 1990 and 2000 City of Dallas Redistricting Commissions. She has been an instructor for National Institute of Trial Advocacy programs.
Professor Wattley received the Dallas Bar Association’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award in 1994. She is also the recipient of the DaVinci Institute Fellow Award for Innovative Teaching (2013), the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Diversity Award (2012), the Association of Black Lawyers’ Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Award (2012), and the University of Oklahoma Regents’ Award for Superior Professional and University Service and Public Outreach (2011).