Lecturers Page Dr. Orna Alyagon-Darr

Dr. Orna Alyagon-Darr



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Dr. Orna Alyagon Darr teaches law at Sapir Academic College and Ono Academic College since 2017. Previously she taught at Carmel Academic Center, where she also served as the Dean of Students.

Her areas of research and teaching include: criminal law, criminal evidence and procedure, psychiatry and law, and law in historical, cultural and social context.

Before joining the academia Dr. Alyagon Darr was a practicing attorney. She was admitted to the New-York State Bar in 1994, and to the Israeli Bar in 1998. She practiced law in New-York State and in Israel. Dr. Alyagon Darr is among the founders of the Public Defender's Office in Haifa County.

Ph.D, University of Haifa, 2006
M.A., Sociology and Anthropology, Tel Aviv University, 1993
LL.B., Tel Aviv University, 1993
B.A., Sociology and Anthropology, Tel Aviv University, 1989

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Orna Alyagon-Darr - CV

Areas of Interest

  • Evidence Law
  • Legal History
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Criminal Law
  • Law & Society


Hebrew lective year: תשפא


My main research interest is the social embeddedness of criminal procedure and evidence law. In my work, I go beyond the conventional truth-seeking rationale and approach criminal procedure and evidence law from a broad cultural and sociological perspective and within specific historical contexts. Doing so allows me to examine the role of legal proof within the broad social sphere and to focus on the cultural and social influences on legal evidence. This approach recognizes the agency of an array of social players (not exclusively legislators, lawyers, and judges) who actively engage in evidentiary discourse to gain symbolic capital, express and reinforce identity, and gain political prominence.
Based on the analysis of 157 primary sources, my book Marks of an Absolute Witch (Ashgate, 2011), demonstrates how evidentiary methods are shaped in the course of a symbolic struggle between variously situated social players. Evidentiary techniques are not necessarily forged through intentional or consistent design by lawyers and legal scholars but are, rather, amalgams of interrelated concepts and outcomes of sometimes competing and sometimes complementary interests. In particular, the book focuses on the professions of law, clergy, and medicine and finds clear affinity between the professional affiliations and the evidentiary positions of participants in the debate. It further demonstrates how diverse social players and groups employed evidentiary strategies to realize their goals and bolster their social standing. The book has been the subject of 12 scholarly reviews.
My next book, Plausible Crime Stories (Cambridge University Press, 2018) is not only the first in-depth study of the history of sex offences in Mandate Palestine but it also pioneers an approach to the historical study of criminal law and proof that focuses on plausibility. Doctrinal rules of evidence only partially explain which crime stories make sense while others fail to convince. Since plausibility is predicated on commonly held systems of belief, it not only provides a key to the meanings individual social players ascribe to the law but also yields insight into communal perceptions of the legal system, self-identity, the essence of normality and deviance and notions of gender, morality, nationality, ethnicity, age, religion and other cultural institutions. Using archival materials, including documents relating to 147 criminal court cases, this socio-legal study of plausibility opens a window onto a broad societal view of past beliefs, dispositions, mentalities, tensions, emotions, boundaries and hierarchies.
Other strands of research that I continue to pursue concern the social embeddeness of the penal and law enforcement systems, the procedural rights of the mentally ill in contemporary Israeli criminal procedure, therapeutic jurisprudence, the criminal responsibility of defendants suffering from complex medical syndromes, and the “emotional turn” in law.


Awards and fellowships:

* Ph.D. - summa cum laude, 2006.

* An honorable mention of my dissertation by the Mezey Award Committee of the Law, Culture and the Humanities Association, 2008.

* J. Willard Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History Fellowship (Madison, WI, June 12-25 2011) 

* Outstanding Lecturer Award of the Carmel Academic Center Law School (2012)

* Scholarship for participation in the Max Planck Summer Academy for Legal History 2013, from the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History (Frankfurt am Main). 

* Scholarship for participation in the Evidence of Feelings Workshop, Center for the History of Emotions 2017, from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin. 

* Member of the research group “Together and Apart: Individual, Community, State” of the Feminist Forum, Sapir College, sponsored by the Israel Council for Higher Education (2018).



Plausible Crime Stories

Orna Alyagon Darr, PLAUSIBLE CRIME STORIES: THE HISTORY OF SEX OFFENCES IN MANDATE PALESTINE (1918-1948) (Cambridge University Press, 2018).


Marks of an Absolute Witch: Evidentiary Dilemmas in Early Modern England (Hardback) book cover


Recent Articles:

Orna Alyagon Darr, The Public Pleads Not Guilty: Parental Suffering as a Source for Empathy toward the Accused, MOZNEI MISHPAT (Natanya College Law Review, forthcoming).

Orna Alyagon Darr, Repressed Memories: Legal Evidence in Social Controversy, 18 MISHPAT U MIMSHAL (University of Haifa Law Review, Hebrew, 2017).

Orna Alyagon Darr, Narratives of ‘Sodomy’ and ‘Unnatural Offences’ in the Courts of Mandate Palestine (1918–1948), 35(1) LAW AND HISTORY REVIEW, 235-260 (2017).

Orna Alyagon Darr, Relocated Doctrine: The Travel of the English Doctrine of Corroboration in Sex Offense Cases to Mandate Palestine, 26(2) YALE JOURNAL OF LAW & THE HUMANITIES, 185-209 (2014).

Orna Alyagon Darr, Experiments in the Courtroom: Social Class and Proof in Early Modern English Witchtrials, 39 (1) LAW AND SOCIAL INQUIRY, 152-175 (2014).

Orna Alyagon Darr and Sarit Golan, Delirium Tremens: Alcohol Withdrawal Related Psychosis and Its Applicability to Criminal Defense, 11 ALEI MISHPAT, 49-106 (CLB Law Review, Hebrew) (2014).



“Sexual Offences and Ethnic Identity in Mandate Palestine: Perspectives from the Colonizing and the Colonized”, Legal History and Empires: Perspectives from the Colonized Conference (University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados, July 11, 2018)

Orna Alyagon-Darr & Rachela Erèl: “Prison Visitors in Mandate Palestine”, Beccaria Legacies Workshop (Ono Academic College, April 24, 2018)

“Narratives of ‘Sodomy’ and ‘Unnatural Offences’ in Mandate Palestine”, Queer History Conference, Haifa Queer History Project (Haifa Feminist Institute, February 19, 2018)

“Shame, Shaming and Sex Offences in Mandate Palestine”, Shaming Conference, “Law and Business” IDC (July 2-3, 2017, accepted for presentation)

“Applying Terapeutic Jurisprudence in Criminal Proceedings”, The Annual Conference of Israeli Legal Clinics” (Hertzlia, February 15, 2017)

“Hidden transcripts of resistance in the colonial courtroom: an analysis of a rape case in Mandate Palestine”, Resistance and Empire, new approaches and comparisons, International Conference organized by ICS-ULisboa Research Group ‘Empires, Colonialism, and Post-colonial Societies, Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon (June 27, 2016)

“Therapeutic Approach in Criminal Proceedings”, Law and Therapy Conference, College of Management, May 23, 2016 (roundtable discussant)

“History and Emotions in Trials of Sexual Offences in Mandate Palestine”, The Eleventh Annual Conference of the Israeli Association of Legal History, Yad Ben-Tzvi, Jerusalem (October 12, 2015)

“The Evidence that Dare Not Speak Its Name: Proof of Male-on-Male Sexual Offences in Mandate Palestine”, The Eighth Global Conference on Sex and the State / Persons and Sexualities, Mansfield College, Oxford, UK (September 26, 2015)

“Ethnic and National Identity in Cases of Sexual Offences in Mandate Palestine”, The Annual Conference of the Israeli Law and Society Association, University of Haifa (February 3, 2015).