Ronald D. Rotunda

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

Labeling Moderate Muslims As Anti-Muslim Extremists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Chilling Scientific Inquiry

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

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

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.