Prof. Yoav Sapir

Faculty of Law
מנהלת הפקולטה למשפטים סגל אקדמי בכיר


Yoav Sapir is a professor of law at Tel Aviv University, the Academic Director of the Taubenschlag Institute of Criminal Law, and the Chair of the LL.M. Committee. He is the former Chief Public Defender of Israel. He earned his S.J.D. and LL.M. from Harvard and his LL.B. from Tel Aviv University, where he served as a member of the editorial board and as student editor of the Tel Aviv Law Review. He teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure and an Advanced Seminar in Criminal Law for LL.M. students.

In 1997, upon completion of his clerkship term for Justice Mishael Cheshin of the Supreme Court of Israel, he joined the newly established Public Defender Office in Tel-Aviv, where he served as an Assistant District Public Defender and represented numerous defendants in all stages of the criminal process.  He continued his studies at Harvard Law School where he was a Byse Fellow and taught a workshop on Critical Approaches to Criminal Law. He worked as an Associate at the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind Wharton & Garrison in NYC and was an intern at the Public Defender Office in Washington D.C. and at the human rights organization, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. After returning to Israel he re-joined the Public Defender Office to serve as the Deputy Chief Public Defender and the Director of the Supreme Court Appellate Division. He was appointed to be Chief Public Defender in 2012, and joined the Law Faculty at Tel Aviv University as a professor in 2021.

Sapir served as a member in several public committees such as the Committee for Reform in Homicide Law (headed by Prof. Kremnitzer) and the Committee on Criminal Procedure and Evidence (headed by Justice Naor and Justice Arbel).

He is the recipient of a number of scholarships and awards including, most recently, the TAU Provost Award for Academic Excellence in Teaching and the Israeli Association of Public Law’s Gorni Award for major contribution in the field.

Research Interests and Teaching

Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Criminology and Theory of Punishment, Critical Analysis of the Law, Legal Theory and Jurisprudence


LL.B. (1996) Tel-Aviv University


 LL.M. (2000) and S.J.D. (2004) Harvard Law School


Representative Publications

Yissacharov in Action: On the Merits of the Israeli Flexible Exclusionary Rule and its Contribution to the Protection of Individual Rights, 10 Tel Aviv U. J. L. & Soc. Change 333 (2019) [Hebrew] (with Guy Rubinstein)


114 Innocent People, 1748 Years in Prison, Calcalist Weekend Supplement (26 June 2014) [Hebrew]


Ofer Sitbon, Interview with Dr. Yoav Sapir, the Incoming Public Defender, 4 Ma'asei Mishpat, Tel Aviv University Journal of Law and Social Change 39 (2011) [Hebrew]


Illusions of Progress: The Right to Counsel in Israel from the British Mandate to the 1980's, in Current Trends in Criminal Procedure and Evidence (Anat Horovitz & Mordechai Kremnitzer, eds., 2009) (Hebrew).


Noblesse Oblige? Private and Public Representation in Criminal Cases, Legal Ethics, and the Client's Best Interestin David Wiener Book on Criminal Law and Ethics 131-166 (2009) (Hebrew).


Against Prevention? A Response to Harcourt's Against Prediction on Actuarial and Clinical Predictions and the Faults of Incapacitation, 33(1) Law & Social Inquiry 253 (2008).


Adequate Protection for "Not Very Nice People": Comments on the Thin Bill of Rights of the Draft Constitution, 10 Mishpat Umimshal (Law and Government in Israel) 571 (2007) (Hebrew)


Convicting the Innocent - In Memory of Dr. David Weiner, 48(2) Ha-Praklit 289 (2006) [Hebrew].


The Right to Adequate Representation  and "Ineffective Assistance of Counsel" Claim, 95 Ha-Sanegor 19 (2005) [Hebrew].


Keeping Gideon’s Promise: A Comparison of the American and Israeli Public Defender Experiences, 39 N.Y.U Review of Law & Social Change 203 (2004) (with Prof. Charles J. Ogletree Jr.).


Neither Intent Nor Impact: A Critique of the Racially Based Selective Prosecution Jurisprudence and a Reform Proposal, 19 Harvard Blackletter Law Journal 127 (2003).

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