Maria T. Kolar

  • Visiting Assistant Professor of Law


B.A., Summa Cum Laude, University of Notre Dame, 1991

M.A., Philosophy, Emory University, 1992

J.D., Yale Law School, 1995


Professor Kolar is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law and teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Capital Punishment. She joined the University of Oklahoma College of Law faculty in the fall of 2013 and taught Legal Research & Writing for three years. Professor Kolar began teaching Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Capital Punishment in the fall of 2016.

Professor Kolar graduated from Yale Law School in 1995, where she was an editor and served on the Admissions Committee for The Yale Law Journal. In her third year of law school, she was a research assistant for Professor Robert D. Harrison and co-taught a Legal Research & Writing course.

Following law school, Professor Kolar served as a law clerk for the Honorable Joel M. Flaum on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She then moved to Oklahoma and worked in private practice as a litigation associate, first at McAfee & Taft and then at Hartzog, Conger & Cason. Professor Kolar was very involved with the Young Lawyers Division of the Oklahoma County Bar Association (OCBA) and served as Chairperson of its Board of Directors. In 2000, she was given the OCBA Outstanding Young Lawyer Award.

Prior to joining the faculty, Professor Kolar served as a law clerk on the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals for nearly thirteen years, first for the Honorable Charles S. Chapel and then for the Honorable Clancy Smith. She previously served as a law clerk on the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, working solely on capital habeas corpus cases for two years. Professor Kolar served on Oklahoma’s Committee for Uniform Criminal Jury Instructions from 2008-2013.

Professor Kolar recently served on the Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission, a bipartisan group of experts in the field and prominent Oklahomans, who together conducted a thorough, research-based, and independent review of Oklahoma’s entire capital punishment system. The Commission began meeting in Jan. of 2016 and released its Report in April of 2017. The Commission made numerous specific recommendations for reforms regarding forensics, innocence protection, death eligibility requirements, the clemency process, the execution process, and the roles of the defense, the prosecution, the jury, and the judiciary. In addition, the Commission made an overall recommendation that the current moratorium on the death penalty in Oklahoma be extended “until significant reforms have been accomplished.”

Professor Kolar is married to Dr. Randall Kolar, David Ross Boyd Professor and Director of the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science at the University of Oklahoma. They have five children: John, Charlie, Sam, Katie, and Ben.

Additional Information


“Finding” a Way to Complete the Ring of Capital Jury Sentencing.

Forthcoming: Denver Law Review (Spring 2018).

The Report of the Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission

March 2017

Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission Member (2016-17).

Courses Taught


  • Criminal Law 5223
  • Criminal Procedure: Investigation 5303
  • Capital Punishment 5810
  • Legal Research & Writing 5123 & 5202

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