Ronald D. Rotunda

Until his death in March 2018, Ronald D. Rotunda was the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, at Chapman University, Dale E. Fowler School of Law. Before that, he was University Professor and Professor of Law at George Mason University and the Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Professor of Law, the University of Illinois.  He was a magna cum laude graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where he was a member of Harvard Law Review. Before that, he clerked for Judge Walter R. Mansfield 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals).  He practiced law in Washington, D.C., and was assistant majority counsel for the Senate Watergate Committee.
He co-authored the most widely used course book on legal ethics, Problems and Materials on Professional Responsibility (Foundation Press, 12th ed. 2014); authored a leading course book on constitutional law, Modern Constitutional Law (West Academic Co., 11th ed. 2015);  co-authored (with John Dzienkowski) Legal Ethics: The Lawyer’s Deskbook on Professional Responsibility (ABA-Thompson Reuters Publishing, 2016-2017 Ed.);  co-authored (with John Nowak) the six-volume Treatise on Constitutional Law (West/Thompson Reuters Publishing, 5th ed. 2012)( annually updated); and authored the one-volume Treatise on Constitutional Law (West Academic, 8th ed. 2010). He published several other books and more than 500 articles in law reviews, journals, newspapers in this country and abroad. His works have been translated into French, Portuguese German, Romanian, Czech, Russian, Japanese, and Korean. State and federal courts at every level, foreign courts in Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America, and law reviews have cited his publications more than 2000 times.  
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 consulted with new democracies in Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine on their proposed constitutions and judicial codes. He chaired the subcommittee that drafted the American Bar Association’s Model Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement; was a member of the Publications Board of the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility (1994 to 2016); and was member of the ABA Standing Committee on Professional Discipline (1991-1997). He was Fulbright Professor in Venezuela (1986) and Fulbright Research Scholar in Italy (1981). In 1996, he assisted the Czech Republic in drafting the first Rules of Ethics for lawyers.  He was a Visiting Scholar, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Faculty of Law, Leuven, Belgium, and a visiting lecturer at the Institute of Law and Economics, Institut für Recht und Ökonomik, the University of Hamburg.  From early June 2004 to May 2005, he was the Special Counsel to the Department of Defense.
In May 2000, American Law Media, publisher of The American Lawyer, the National Law Journal, and the Legal Times picked Rotunda as one of the ten most influential Illinois Lawyers.   Also in 2000, a University of Chicago Press study to determine the influence, productivity, and reputations of law professors over the last several decades, ranked Rotunda as the 17th highest in the nation.  The 2002-2003 New Educational Quality Ranking of U.S. Law Schools (EQR) [the last year for which such records are available] ranks Professor Rotunda as the eleventh most cited of all law faculty in the United States. See http://www.leiterrankings.com/faculty/2002faculty_impact_cites.shtml.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.  When he moved to California, he was similarly selected every year, since 2009.  From 2009 to 2013, he was a Commissioner of the Fair Political Practices Commission, a state regulatory agency (analogous to the Federal Election Commission).  He was a Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Legal Education (2014 to 2016). See also, www.ronaldrotunda.org.

Columns by Ronald D. Rotunda

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

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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.

What the Last Eight Years of Federal Government Intervention in the National Economy Has Wrought

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Chapman University, Fowler School of Law, professor Ronald D. Rotunda evaluates the claims of President Obama and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton about the country’s economic gains over the past eight years and finds that those claims lack support. Rotunda argues that the numbers indicate that the policy of federal government intervention has not worked as well as Clinton and Obama claim.

Forcing Lawyers to Perform Pro Bono Services, Part II

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Chapman University, Fowler School of Law, professor Ronald Rotunda addresses a response to his earlier column on mandatory pro bono for lawyers. Rotunda argues that mandatory pro bono for lawyers would be a unique and unwarranted burden, given that the law grants exclusive privileges to other professions, such as dentists to practice dentistry, without requiring them to provide their services to the indigent for free.

The ABA Wants Copyright Royalties From Authors Who Publish the Law

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Chapman University, Fowler School of Law, professor Ronald D. Rotunda comments on the American Bar Association’s assertion of copyright to its Model Rules of Professional Conduct and argues that the association should review its consent decree. As Rotunda argues, the ABA’s fees are at best arbitrary and should not determine (as they presently do) the fees required for reprinting the Model Rules.

Imposing Criminal Punishment by Introducing False Testimony

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Ronald Rotunda, law professor at Chapman University, Fowler School of Law, comments on the latest developments in the criminal proceedings against Sholom Rubashkin—specifically the revelation that federal prosecutors introduced false testimony in pursuit of conviction. Rotunda provides background on the case and describes the misconduct of the prosecution in handling the case.

Judges Excoriating Other Judges for Using Terms of Art They Don’t Like: The Comments of Richard Posner

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Ronald Rotunda, law professor at Chapman University, Fowler School of Law, comments on a concurring opinion by Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit criticizing other judges for using legal terms of art. Rotunda argues that Judge Posner’s criticism makes little sense and is inconsistent with his own prior written opinions.

Forcing Lawyers to Perform Pro Bono Services

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Ronald Rotunda, law professor at Chapman University, Fowler School of Law, responds to the Justice Sonya Sotomayor’s comment that she favors imposing mandatory pro bono work on lawyers. Rotunda argues that while lawyers should engage in pro bono work, making it mandatory would infringe on their liberty to decide how to spend their time and doesn’t adequately account for other ways in which lawyers help their communities.

Increased Controversy Over the Future of American Law Institute

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Chapman University professor Ronald Rotunda comments on the increasingly controversial positions taken by the American Law Institute (ALI), which is one of the most important nongovernmental legal institutions in the United States. Rotunda describes some of the changes in laws proposed in recent editions of the ALI’s highly influential Model Codes and Restatements.

The Fifth Justice

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Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda describes some significant changes in the law that could result from the next Supreme Court justice being appointed by a Democratic president. Rotunda looks at a number of seminal cases that were decided 5-4 that seem likely be overturned in such an event.

Prosecutors Coercing Defendants to Contribute to the Prosecutor’s Favorite Charities

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Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda comments on a practice by federal prosecutors of settling some cases by requiring defendants to pay money to specific charities—organizations that tend to support the present administration. Rotunda explains why this practice is ethically unsound and calls for an end to it.

Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, the Man Who Murdered Kitty Genovese

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Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda comments on the phenomenon where individuals who can remain anonymous tend to be less altruistic than those who are singled out. Rotunda draws upon the story of the murder of Kitty Genovese and other similar situations in order to illustrate people’s tendency not to act when they are not specifically asked to act.

Why Can’t We Buy Cars the Way We Buy Computers?

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Chapman University Law professor Ronald Rotunda comments on the law in a majority of states requiring car manufacturers to sell through dealers. Rotunda argues that Tesla Motors’ direct-to-consumer model is an excellent opportunity for the state and federal courts to invalidate laws such as these that exist only to favor entrenched economic interests.

Chilling Scientific Inquiry

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Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda comments on several instances in which the government is chilling scientific inquiry into the question of global warming. Rotunda argues that the marketplace of ideas, rather than the subpoena power of government, should decide what is true or false.

Alcoholics and the Profession of Law

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Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda comments on the prevalence of alcoholism among attorneys as compared to those in other professions. Rotunda urges lawyers with alcohol addiction problems and those who know such people to seek help from programs such as Lawyer Assistance Programs, which are available in nearly all U.S. jurisdictions.

The Wages of Crying Wolf

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Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda calls attention to the increasing problem of false claims of hate crimes—whether based on race or sexual orientation—and suggests that rather than embrace a mob mentality, we neither jump to conclusions of guilt nor accuse claimants of lying.

What Does Ancient Athens Have to Do With University Protesters?

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Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda describes how freedom—specifically freedom of speech—was recognized as important as far back as ancient Athens, and how it remains important in the United States today, not only for its inherent value but also in setting an example for the rest of the world to use. Rotunda argues that when the United States restricts speech, other countries will use our example to justify their own repression.

Nino Scalia, R.I.P.

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Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda reflects on the life and accomplishments of his friend the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Rotunda responds to some of the criticism that surfaced after Scalia’s death and recounts some of his most memorable opinions.