James E. Robertson, Professor Emeritus

Email: james.robertson@mnsu.edu

  • Degree - Oxford University, Correctional Law (Prisoners' Right)


In some 135 articles, essays, case notes, and reviews (in each instance as the sole author), Professor Robertson has delineated and critiqued the rights of prisoners. As an emeritus professor, he continues to chronicle developments in correctional law. Presently he is a contributing editor to the Correctional Law Reporter and the Criminal Law Bulletin.

In Theoretical Criminology, University of California at Berkeley law professor Jonathan Simon described Robertson (alongside noted prison scholar Craig Haney) as a “veteran observer of imprisonment” (vol. 4: 285, 286 (2000)). Earlier, a staff writer for The Angolite, the nation's leading news magazine published by inmates, identified Robertson as a “renowned penal expert” (St. Louis U. Pub. L. Rev., vol. 14: 1, 12 (1994)). And in 2013, University of Buffalo law professor Teresa Miller described him as a “veteran corrections professional and university professor” (Akron Law Rev., vol. 46, 433, 443 (2013).

His articles on prisoners’ rights and related topics have appeared in the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, Harvard Journal on Legislation, North Carolina Law Review, American Criminal Law Review, and other journals. His article “’Separate But Equal’ in Prison: Johnson v. California and Common Sense Racism” was given the prestigious “Foreword” designation in the annual Supreme Court issue of the leading specialty journal in his field, Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology (vol. 96. 795-848 (2006).

Professor Robertson was the first faculty member of Minnesota State University to be designated “Distinguished Faculty Scholar” in recognition for a body of scholarship. Earlier, in 2001, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences of his university bestowed upon him the inaugural Distinguished Professor designation in recognition of his research, classroom instruction, advising, and service.

From 2002 to 2015, Professor Robertson served as editor-in-chief of the Criminal Law Bulletin, a scholarly journal of six yearly issues that is published by Thomson Reuters. The Criminal Law Bulletin was ranked 2nd among some 16 peer-edited journals in the field of criminal law and procedure for the calendar years 2011, 2013, and 2015 (his concluding year as editor-in-chief) and ranked 3rd during the calendar years 2012 and 2014. Over the past 8 years, it is the 2nd most cited journal in this category (source: Washington & Lee Univ. Law School, web address: http://lawlib.wlu.edu/LJ/index.aspx).

His consultancies include capital punishment appeals for the California State Public Defender and civil rights suits involving prison rape and custodial suicide.

He has been interviewed by the Los Angeles Times Magazine, National Public Radio, Wall Street Journal, and other media outlets on prison rape and other aspects of imprisonment.

Robertson graduated, with election to Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Washington; later, he received law degrees from Washington University at St. Louis and, subsequently, Oxford University. His Oxford tutor was Roger Hood, past president of the British Society of Criminology. Robertson also earned a master of arts degree in criminal justice from California State University, Sacramento, where he served as an adjunct assistant professor.

Prior to his last university appointment, Robertson was a research associate with the Center for the Study of Law and Society at the University of California at Berkeley; and earlier, with the National Consortium for Criminal Justice Information and Statistics; the National Council on Crime and Delinquency; and the American Justice Institute.

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