Josephine (Jo) R. Potuto

Josephine (Jo) R. Potuto Richard H. Larson Professor of Constitutional Law Emeritus

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Professor Potuto joined the faculty in 1974. She currently teaches Federal Jurisdiction, Constitutional Law, Sports Law, and Criminal Procedure. She also maintains a special interest in Conflict of Laws and Appellate Advocacy and, among other courses, has taught Mass Communications, Civil Procedure, Contract and Criminal Law. In 2003 Potuto received the Nebraska Alumni Outstanding Faculty Award.

Professor Potuto is the author of three books – Prisoner Collateral Attacks: Habeas Corpus and Federal Prisoner Motion Practice; Winning Appeals; and Federal Criminal Jury Instructions (co-authored with Perlman and Saltzburg). She has authored numerous articles focused on issues in criminal procedure, federal jurisdiction, and intercollegiate athletics. She is a member of the American Law Institute, the Nebraska State Bar Foundation (and a recipient of its Shining Light Award), and the Douglass Society, the College's "highest honor for its most distinguished graduates." In Spring 2012, Potuto delivered the Chancellor's Distinguished Lecture. Selection as the Chancellor's Distinguished Lecturer is the "highest recognition the Research Council can bestow on an individual faculty member." Lectures are "high profile public events that celebrate significant achievements and contributions made by faculty."

Professor Potuto is a past member of the Federal Practice Committee of the Federal District Court, District of Nebraska; the Nebraska Crime Commission; and the Robert Van Pelt American Inns of Court (Master in the Brandeis Inn). She has been a visiting professor at the law colleges of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Oregon, Arizona, Seton Hall, Rutgers, and Cardozo. She was the project director and a reporter for the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) Model Sentencing and Corrections Act.  She was the reporter for the Nebraska Supreme Court project to create model jury instructions for cases.   She was an advisor on the NCCUSL Uniform Collegiate Agents Act.   She was a consultant and hearing officer for the Nebraska Racing Commission.

Professor Potuto is the Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR) for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is the immediate past president of the 1A Faculty Athletics Representatives.  She currently serves on the 1A FAR executive committee. She represents the University on NCAA committees and is a member of the governance groups of the Big Ten Conference. Professor Potuto is the sole FAR serving on the NCAA Interpretations Committee.   She served three terms on the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions (chair 2006 to 2008). She is one of two members of the DI Infractions Committee who worked  on an NCAA project to make the NCAA enforcement/infractions processes more accessible to media representatives. Professor Potuto represented the Big 12 Conference on the Division I Management Council and also served on the NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championship Committee and the Region 5 Postgraduate Scholarship Committee. In 2002 she was named Outstanding Faculty Athletics Representative by the All-American Football Foundation. In Summer 2011 she was one of two FARs to participate in the NCAA Division I Presidential Retreat. In April 2011 Professor Potuto gave the keynote address and also was a presenter at the University of Washington's Executive Masters Program, Evans School of Public Affairs. Potuto  consults on sports issues and is a regular presenter on panels dealing with sports law issues, including at the National Association of Collegiate Athletic Directors, NCAA Regional Rules Seminars, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, and at, among others, law schools at Maryland, Marquette, LSU, Arizona State, Santa Clara, and Mississippi.  Potuto is on the editorial board of the Journal of NCAA Compliance.

Professor Potuto has a B.A. in Journalism from Douglass College, an M.A. in English Literature from Seton Hall University, and a J.D. from the Rutgers University Law College where she was Editor-in-Chief of the Rutgers Law Review, Best Oralist in the Rutgers Intramural Moot Court Competition, and Captain of the Rutgers National Moot Court Team. She is licensed to practice in Nebraska and New Jersey and is a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.


Appellate Advocacy Law 610/G (3 cr hr)
Appellate practice and procedure; exploring the federal and Nebraska appellate practice, including the mechanics and timing of appeals, with emphasis on written and oral advocacy. Students draft appellate briefs, prepare other appeal-related documents, and participate in an oral argument.

Conflict of Laws Law 642/G (1-4 cr hr)
Legal and constitutional concepts involved in choosing the applicable law when the essential facts of a case are not confined to one state or national sovereignty.

Constitutional Law I Law 609/G (EDAD *870) (1-4 cr hr)
Structure of the federal government, including the history and judicial interpretation of the Constitution, federalism, interstate commerce, due process, equal protection, and separation of powers.

Constitutional Law II Law 732/G (EDAD *871) (1-4 cr hr)
Emphasizes protected individual civil liberties. The origin and modern applicability of the state action concept in constitutional litigation; the scope of congressional power to enforce the post Civil War amendments; freedom of speech, association, and press; and constitutional principles enforcing the first amendment's command that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Criminal Procedure Law 631/G (1-4 cr hr)
Basic problems of criminal procedure with emphasis on the fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments to the United States Constitution and their impact on the criminal justice system.

Federal Jurisdiction Law 754/G (1-4 cr hr)
Advanced study of United States constitutional law in the litigational context and focused on the power, history, and development of the federal judicial system and the distribution of power between the federal and state systems.

Sports Law Law 694/G (1-4 cr hr)
Selected legal issues affecting amateur and professional sports. May include applicability of antitrust, communications, contract, labor, and tax laws to professional sports; the ethical and professional aspects of player representation; the extra-governmental regulation of amateur athletics; and the internal organization of the professional sports leagues.


Swinging at the Facts: How Baseball Informs Legal Argument,  Louisiana State Univ. L.Rev. (2017-18) (forthcoming)

Two, Four, Six, Eight; What Can We Now Regulate? The Regulatory Mentality and NCAA Satellite Camps (et al),  35 Quinnipiac L. Rev. 101 (2017)

The Once and Future NCAA,  6 Ariz. State Sports&Ent. L.J. 85 (2017)

Whose Article Is It Anyway?: Student Editors and Law Reviews,,  49 Ind. L.Rev. 609 (2016)

Comparing NCAA and Olympic Athlete Eligibility Dispute Resolution Systems in Light of Procedural Fairness and Substantive Justice (with Matt Mitten),  7 Harvard Journal of Sports & Entertainment Law 1 (2016)

So What's a FAR? And What's a FAR for?  11 Sports Litigation Alert 22 (2014)

The Collegiate Mark, the Collegiate Model, and the Treatment of Student-Athletes  92 Ore. L. Rev. 879

Professors Need Not Apply  Inside Higher Ed (2014)

John Gradwohl: In Loving Memory  93 Neb. L. Rev 1 (2014)

The NCAA State Actor Controversy; Much Ado About Nothing (forthcoming)  Marquette Sports Law Review

They Take Classes, Don't They?: Structuring A College Football Post Season  7 Maryland Journal of Business & Technology Law 311 (2012)

If it Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It: An Examination of the NCAA Division I Infractions Committee's Composition and Decision-Making Process  89 Neb. L. Rev. 101 (2011) (with Parkinson)

The NCAA Rules Adoption, Interpretation, Enforcement and Infractions Processes: The Laws that Regulate Them and the Scope of Court Review  12 Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law (2010)

The Federal Income Tax and Reform of College Athletics: Response to Professor Colombo and An Independent Critique  2 Journal of Intercollegiate Sport (2010) (with Lyons)

National Study of Student-Athletes Regarding their Experiences as College Students  41 College Student Journal 947 (2007) (with O'Hanlon)

Academic Misconduct, Academic Support Services, and the NCAA  95 Ky.L.J. 447 (2007)

Constitutional Litigation  78 Neb. L. Rev. 550 (1999)

Interstate Transfers of Water: State Options After Sporhase  70 Neb. L. Rev. 754 (1991) (with Harnsberger and Thorson), republished by the National Agricultural Law Center

The Federal Prisoner Collateral Attack: Requiescat in Pace  1988 B.Y.U.L. Rev. 38

Stanley and Ferber = Constitutional Crime of At-Home Child Pornography Possession  76 Ky. L.J. 15 (1988)

An Operational Plan for Realistic Prison Employment  1980 Wis. L. Rev. 291

And Mussolini Had the Trains Running on Time: A Review of The Bad Check Offense and the Law Enforcement Debt Collector  65 Neb. L. Rev. 242 (1986)

Prison Disciplinary Procedures and Judicial Review under the Nebraska Administrative Procedure Act  61 Neb. L. Rev. 1 (1982)

A Model Proposal to Avoid Ex-offender Employment Discrimination  41 Ohio State L.J. 77 (1980)

The Right of Prisoner Access: Does Bounds have Bounds?  53 Inc. L.J. 207 (1978)


Winning Appeals(1992)

Federal Criminal Jury Instructions(2d ed. 1991)(with Perlman and Saltzberg) and 1993 Supplement

Prisoner Collateral Attacks: Federal Habeas corpus and Section 2255 Motions(1991) and 1992 and 1993 supplements


“The First Amendment on the Field,” Sports Law Symposium, Louisiana State University (January 27, 2017)

“NCAA Autonomy Conferences: Their Jurisdiction and Legislative Initiatives,” Joint Law, Business, and Journalism Conference, Arizona State Law College (April 8, 2016)

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

After Nassar Conviction, Michigan State Goes on Trial  The Chronicle of Higher Education (2018)

NCAA: No Academic Violations at UNC  Inside Higher Ed (2017)

‘Death’ for Louisville Basketball?  Inside Higher Ed (2017)

Scholarship or Paycheck  NTV Nebraska (2017)

Penalties in Prostitution Scandal  Inside Higher Ed (2017)

The ‘Black Hole’ of College Sports  Inside Higher Ed (2017)

Kicking the Can?  Inside Higher Ed (2016)

How the Landmark O'Bannon Ruling Could Change College Sports  Chronicle of Higher Education (2014)

Reinventing the NCAA  Sports Conflict Institute (2014)


J.D., 1974 Rutgers University Law School
Order of the Coif, 1974
Editor in Chief, Rutgers Law Review, 1974
M.A., English Literature, 1971, Seton Hall University
B.A., Journalism, 1967, Douglass College

Areas of Expertise


Cline Williams Research Chair, 2005-06
Faculty Athletics Representative, University of Nebraska, 1997
Richard H. Larson, Professor of Constitutional Law, 1988
Reporter, Nebraska Criminal Jury Instructions, Nebraska Supreme Court Committee on Practice and Pattern Jury Instructions Committee on Practice and Procedure, 1985-1992
Professor of Law, 1981
Associate Professor of Law, 1978
Project Director and Co-Reporter, Model Sentencing and Corrections Act, National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, 1975-1978
Assistant Professor of Law, 1974