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Mattes, JD

Staff Full Name

Katherine Mattes, JD

Specialty Areas:

criminal defense: battered defendents, mental illness (mental competency to stand trial, insanity defense)

VPI Core Areas

VPI Core Areas: #Community Violence

Angles of Approach

#Law Policy


Katherine Mattes is an experienced criminal defense attorney who has handled trial, appellate work and supervises student lawyers at both levels. She has expertise on the intersection of criminal justice and mental illness, with an emphasis on mental competency to stand trial and the defense of not guilty by reason of insanity. As lead counsel in State v. Denson, a landmark case that resulted in statewide changes to Louisiana’s treatment of mentally ill criminal defendants who are incompetent to stand trial. Mattes has also testified before state legislative committees; taught and lectured on issues relating to incompetent criminal defendants; and participated in related litigation.


Clinical Work

Mattes currently directs the Tulane Criminal Justice Clinic where students focus on representing criminal defendants at every stage of the litigation process and are also challenged to consider how client advocacy allows, and perhaps even requires, work outside of the courts. 


She also co-directs the Women’s Prison Project with other VPI law faculty Becki Kondkar, which focuses on reducing the criminal justice system involvement of female abuse and trafficking victims.


Courses with violence related topics

Mattes' Law School profile page