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Sarah N. Welling

university of kentucky college of law professor sarah wellling

William L. Matthews, Jr. Professor of Law

Room 241 College of Law

(859) 257-8326


Sarah N. Welling is an Ashland-Spears Distinguished Research Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky. She teaches Criminal Law, Federal Criminal Law, and Criminal Procedure.

Her primary research interest is federal criminal law, particularly money laundering. She has spoken on federal criminal law in Poland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China. On money laundering, she has consulted with Congress and the CIA, served as a team leader in a RAND exercise, and been quoted by the New York Times.

Sarah’s most recent books are Wright & Welling, Federal Practice and Procedure (formerly known as Wright & Miller), Volumes 3 and 3A (4th ed. 2010) covering Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 31-42. In 2011, the Supreme Court cited the discussion of § 2255 habeas corpus actions. In addition, Sarah is the lead author of Federal Criminal Law and Related Actions: Crimes, RICO, Forfeiture and the False Claims Act, a two-volume treatise co-authored with Professors Sara Sun Beale and Pamela Bucy Pierson, published by West Group in 1998. 

Her articles have appeared in Hastings Law Journal, Notre Dame Law Review, Washington University Law Review, and William & Mary Law Review

Sarah was elected to the American Law Institute in 2008.  She is active as a consultant for Model Penal Code-Sentencing, Model Penal Code-Sexual Assault, and Principles of Government Ethics. She is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. 

Sarah has been the Reporter for the Sixth Circuit Pattern Criminal Jury Instructions since 1999.

She joined the faculty in 1981 after clerking for then-District Court Judge Eugene E. Siler, Jr. and practicing for two years at a large firm in Chicago.


  • B.A., cum laude, University of Wisconsin (1974)
  • J.D. with high distinction, University of Kentucky (1978)

Books & Book Chapters

  • Charles Alan Wright & Sarah N. Welling, Federal Practice and Procedure, Vol. 3 (Thomson West, 4th ed. 2011) (updated annually). 
  • Charles Alan Wright & Sarah N. Welling, Federal Practice and Procedure, Vol. 3A (Thomson West, 4th ed. 2010) (updated annually).
  • Sarah N. Welling (Reporter), Sixth Circuit Pattern Criminal Jury Instructions (Thomson West 2013). (updated online as needed at the Sixth Circuit website)  
  • Sarah N. Welling (Reporter), Sixth Circuit Pattern Criminal Jury Instructions (Thomson West 2011).
  • Sarah N. Welling, Sara Sun Beale & Pamela H. Bucy, Federal Criminal Law and Related Actions: Crimes, Forfeiture, the False Claims Act and RICO (West Group 1998 + Supp. 2000).


    Scholarly Articles

    Scholarship is available for download at Sarah N. Welling's SelectedWorks page.

    • Diane R. Follingstad, M. Jill Rogers, Sarah N. Welling & F. Jill Priesmeyer, Decisions to Prosecute Battered Women's Homicide Cases: An Exploratory Study, 30 J. Fam. Violence 859 (2015).
    • Sarah Welling, Reviving the Federal Crime of Gratuities, 55 Ariz. L. Rev. 417 (2013).
    • Sarah N. Welling & Jane Lyle Hord, Friction in Reconciling Criminal Forfeiture and Bankruptcy: The Criminal Forfeiture Part, 42 Golden Gate U. L. Rev. 551 (2012).
    • Sarah N. Welling & Andy G. Rickman, Cyberlaundering: The Risks, the Responses, 50 Fla. L. Rev. 295 (1998).
    • Sarah N. Welling & Medrith Lee Hager, Defining Excessiveness: Applying the Eighth Amendment to Civil Forfeiture after Austin v. United States, 83 Ky. L.J. 835 (1995).
    • Sarah Welling, Money Laundering: The Anti-Structuring Rules, 44 Ala. L. Rev. 787 (1993).
    • Sarah N. Welling, White Collar Crime from Scratch: Some Observations on the East European Experience, 35 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 271 (1993).
    • Eugene R. Gaetke & Sarah N. Welling, Money Laundering and Lawyers, 43 Syracuse L. Rev. 1165 (1992).
    • Sarah N. Welling, Smurfs, Money Laundering and the Federal Criminal Law: The Crime of Structuring Transactions, 41 Fla. L. Rev. 287 (1989).
    • Sarah Welling, Victims in the Criminal Process: A Utilitarian Analysis of Victim Participation in the Charging Decision, 30 Ariz. L. Rev. 85 (1988).
    • Sarah Welling & Barbara Jones, Prison Reform Issues for the Eighties: Modification and Dissolution of Injunctions in the Federal Courts, 20 Conn. L. Rev. 865 (1988).
    • Sarah N. Welling, Victim Participation in Plea Bargains, 65 Wash. U. L. Q. 301 (1987).
    • William H. Fortune & Sarah Welling, Kentucky Law Survey, Criminal Procedure, 72 Ky. L.J. 381 (1984).
    • Sarah Welling, Discovery of Nonparties' Tangible Things under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 59 Notre Dame L. Rev. 110 (1983).
    • Sarah N. Welling, Intracorporate Plurality in Criminal Conspiracy Law, 33 Hastings L.J. 1155 (1982).
    • Sarah N. Welling, Comment, The Uniform Disposition of Community Property Rights at Death Act, 65 Ky. L.J. 541 (1977).
    • Sarah N. Welling, Comment, State ex rel. Swann v. Pack: Self-Endangerment and the First Amendment, 65 Ky. L.J. 195 (1976).

    November 2, 2018

    Sarah N. Welling, William L. Matthews, Jr. Professor of Law, is the recipient of the 2018 Duncan Teaching Award at the University of Kentucky College of Law.

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    March 13, 2017

    The University of Kentucky College of Law Women’s Law Caucus hosted its annual Spring Luncheon on Wednesday, February 22, at the Hilary J. Boone Center to recognize the Hon. Karen K. Caldwell and Prof. Sarah N. Welling for their outstanding contributions as women in the law.

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    September 1, 2016
    By: Research

    Sarah Welling is the Ashland-Spears Distinguished Research Professor of Law and the Laramie L. Leatherman Professor of Law. Her research focuses on criminal law and she has consulted with Congress and the CIA on money laundering.

    "One of my earliest and most successful publications was on money laundering," Welling says, specifically a form called "smurfing" that started at the height of the drug wars. She admits the colorful name peaked her interest.

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