Ronald D. Rotunda

Ronald D. Rotunda is the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, at Chapman University, Fowler School of Law. He joined the faculty in 2008. Before that, he was University Professor and Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law. From 2002 to 2006, he was the George Mason University Foundation Professor of Law. Before that, he was the Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Professor of Law, at the University of Illinois.

He is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, where he was a member of Harvard Law Review. He joined the University of Illinois faculty in 1974 after clerking for Judge Walter R. Mansfield of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, practicing law in Washington, D.C., and serving as assistant majority counsel for the Watergate Committee.

He has co-authored the most widely used course book on legal ethics, Problems and Materials on Professional Responsibility (Foundation Press, 11th ed. 2011) and is the author of a leading course book on constitutional law, Modern Constitutional Law (West Publishing Co., 10th ed. 2012). He is the coauthor of, Legal Ethics: The Lawyer's Deskbook on Professional Responsibility (ABA-West Group, St. Paul, Minnesota, 7th ed., 2009) (jointly published by the ABA and West Group, a division of Thompson Publishing) (with John Dzienkowski). Rotunda is also the co-author (with John Nowak) of the six-volume Treatise on Constitutional Law (West Publishing Co., 5th ed. 2012), and a one volume Treatise on Constitutional Law (West Publishing Co., 8th ed. 2010). He is also the author of several other books and more than 300 articles in various law reviews, journals, newspapers, and books in this country and in Europe. His works have been translated into French, German, Romanian, Czech, Russian, Japanese, and Korean. These books and articles have been cited more than 2000 times by law reviews and by state and federal courts at every level, from trial courts to the U.S. Supreme Court. He has been interviewed on radio and television on legal issues, both in this country and abroad. In 1993 he was the Constitutional Law Adviser to the Supreme National Council of Cambodia and assisted that country in writing its first democratic constitution.

He was selected the Best Lawyer in Washington, DC, in 2009 in Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law, as published in November 2008 in the Washington Post in association with the Legal Times. He was also selected as one of the Best Lawyers in Southern California, in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 in Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law as published in the Los Angeles Times, U.S. News, and American Law Media. On June 17, 2009, he became a Commissioner of the Fair Political Practices Commission, a state regulatory agency and California’s independent political watchdog. He served until January 31, 2013, when his term expired. In 2012, he became a Distinguished International Research Fellow at the World Engagement Institute, a non-profit, multidisciplinary and academically-based non-governmental organization with the mission to facilitate professional global engagement for international development and poverty reduction. In 2012, Chapman University honored him with The Chapman University Excellence In Scholarly/Creative Work Award, 2011-2012. Since 2014, he has been a member of the Editorial Board of The International Journal of Sustainable Human Security (IJSHS), a peer-reviewed publication of the World Engagement Institute (WEI). He was rated, in 2014, as one of “The 30 Most Influential Constitutional Law Professors” in the United States. President Barak Obama was rated number 1.

Columns by Ronald D. Rotunda

Bitcoin and the Legal Ethics of Lawyers

Updated:

Chapman University, Fowler School of Law, professor Ronald D. Rotunda comments on a recent opinion by the Nebraska bar concluding that lawyers may receive digital currencies such as bitcoin for their services, but only subject to certain conditions. Rotunda provides a brief explanation of bitcoin and explains why the opinion makes no sense. Rotunda calls upon lawyers and state bars to consider the impact of new technology on lawyers, but not to impose special rules on novel tools that are simply a new way of engaging in a traditional endeavor.

The Fall of Seriatim Opinions and the Rise of the Supreme Court

Updated:

Chapman University Fowler School of Law professor Ronald D. Rotunda describes the historic practice by the US Supreme Court of issuing seriatim opinions, where each justice wrote his own separate opinion, rather than the current practice of issuing an Opinion of the Court. Rotunda describes the role of Chief Justice John Marshall in changing the practice, which resulted in the most powerful Court in the world.

Can Robots Practice Law?

Updated:

Chapman University, Fowler School of Law, professor Ronald D. Rotunda comments on the laws regulating the practice of law, and specifically, defining (or not defining) what the practice of law means. Rotunda argues that despite (or because of) the difficulty of defining the practice of law, computers and technology are advancing the practice of law and the work of lawyers.

Indicting the President: President Clinton’s Justice Department Says No

Updated:

Chapman University Fowler School of Law professor Ronald D. Rotunda explains his legal conclusion in the opinion letter he authored for Ken Star regarding the ability of a federal grand jury to indict a sitting president. Rotunda points out that the key difference between then and now is the presence of a special prosecutor statute protecting independent counsel from removal.

Beveridge’s Life of Marshall and its Relevance Today

Updated:

Chapman University Fowler School of Law professor Ronald D. Rotunda comments on Albert Jeremiah Beveridge’s historic biography of John Marshall and notes that both Beveridge and Marshall are revered in spite of their being wrong (in hindsight) about certain moral truths. Rotunda points out that every generation thinks itself smarter and more moral than the previous generation, so if we do not practice humility about the past, we risk being blindsided by different prejudices today.

An English Teacher Corrects Shakespeare

Updated:

Chapman University, Fowler School of Law, professor Ronald D. Rotunda critiques an English professor at Northern Arizona University for insisting that a student use the word “humankind” rather than “mankind.” Rotunda points out that the origin of the English word “man” encompasses both sexes and that for English professors (or any instructor) to force students to use certain words and shun others is an abuse of the power of words.

How to Drain the Swamp? Use a Flashlight

Updated:

Chapman University Fowler School of Law professor Ronald D. Rotunda calls for the executive branch to shine a light into some areas of government that have been obscured in the past eight years, including the conduct of former IRS officer Lois Lerner, Operation Fast and Furious, and investigations by the offices of the inspectors general. Rotunda argues that the release of documents related to these and other issues will help us know if we should be worried about our government.

Visas: The Historical and Legal Precedent

Updated:

Chapman University, Fowler School of Law, professor Ronald D. Rotunda explains the legal precedent behind the executive’s power to restrict visas for non-U.S. citizens to enter the United States. Rotunda points out that the recent opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit fails to mention almost any of the precedential cases on point when it struck down President Trump’s executive order limiting immigration.

Labeling Moderate Muslims As Anti-Muslim Extremists

Updated:

Chapman University, Fowler School of Law, professor Ronald D. Rotunda discusses the controversial designation of Maajid Nawaz, a practicing Muslim, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born former Muslim, as “hateful extremists” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Rotunda argues that SPLC should reconsider its criteria for labeling someone an extremist, and he points out ways in which SPLC’s labeling system is inconsistent and misguided.

Federal Investigations of Possible Corrupt Agreements by State Attorneys General who Threaten Criminal Prosecutions

Updated:

Chapman University, Fowler School of Law, professor Ronald D. Rotunda argues that, in the interest of protecting free speech, the Attorneys General of New York and Massachusetts should comply with congressional subpoenas investigating whether the state attorneys general are part of a corrupt agreement with private interests seeking to harass. Rotunda argues that the state attorneys general are effectively chilling the free speech of scientists who question the validity of the theory that humans contribute to global warming.