Professor Paul F. Rothstein is Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.
Professor Rothstein is well known for his work in evidence; torts; civil and criminal lawsuits; governmental, legal, and judicial ethics; and the judicial process from the Supreme Court on down, including constitutional aspects. His background is that of a practicing trial lawyer handling tort, criminal, and commercial litigation. He is author of the books Evidence: Cases, Materials and Problems; Evidence in a Nutshell; Federal Rules of Evidence; Federal Testimonial Privileges; and several other books and approximately 100 articles. His numerous professional activities include positions as chair of the American Bar Association Rules of Evidence and Criminal Procedure Committee, Education Chairman of the Federal Bar Association, chair of the Association of American Law Schools Evidence Section, member of the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Council, and consultant to the U.S Congress, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, the National Academy of Sciences, and Rand. In addition, he has been a regular contributing editor to the Legal Times, the New York Law Journal, and the Criminal Law Bulletin and on the Publication Advisory Boards of Matthew Bender Co., Lexis-Nexis, and several other publishers including on the Board of Contributors to the renowned Black’s Law Dictionary. Prior to entering the profession, Rothstein was first in his law school class, was elected Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review, and received—two years running—a Fulbright Scholarship at Oxford University in England.
Some highlights from his subsequent professional career:
Professor Rothstein was on the American team helping draft the constitutions of approximately a dozen countries emerging from the former Soviet Union, including Russia. The late Secretary of State Madeline Albright has called this “the most effective voluntary legal assistance initiative in history” and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has concurred. See The Washington Lawyer, July/August 2022, p. 48.
Rothstein also was a pioneer in government compensation for victims of crime, helping draft some of the earliest American legislation and playing an instrumental role in the formation of the American and International Crime Victims Compensation Associations, in which he was an officer. He has been a principal consultant to both houses of Congress on revision of the massive U.S. Criminal Code and on the Federal Rules of Evidence; and has advised states, such as Texas, and D.C., on the revision of their criminal codes, and states and countries considering codification of rules of evidence, including New York and Canada. He has also provided advice on the drafting and revision of laws against domestic violence.
He has trained federal and state judges at the Federal Judicial Center and the National Judicial College, the principal agencies for the education of federal and state judges, respectively. Rothstein also was consultant to the IRS and Treasury Department in the drafting of successful mutual assistance treaties with Switzerland and other countries, providing (for the first time in several instances) much needed cross-border procedures for obtaining testimony and other evidence in criminal cases. He was also consultant to the National Commission on Restructuring the Internal Revenue Service (on electronic evidence); to the Georgetown University Project on Scientific Validity and the Courts (on scientific expert evidence); and to one of the first projects creating interactive computer programming for legal education in trial and evidentiary skills.
His books and long-running series of articles and conference programs for judges and attorneys on the Federal Rules of Evidence, together with his chairmanship of the Association of American Law Schools Evidence Section and of an American Bar Association Committee studying the Rules, are credited with advancing in a major way professionalism and competence in the use and teaching of the Rules. Rothstein was a participant in the Williamsburg conference of judges, lawyers, and law professors that had originally spearheaded the idea for a body of codified Federal Evidence Rules.
He has designed and run trial-lawyer training programs for the Justice Department and other government agencies and leading Washington law firms; and has run an appellate federal public defender service. He has represented prominent public figures and companies (such as microsoft); co-handled a case involving an alleged attempt to steal a notorious giant diamond from a display at the Smithsonian Museum; and has been invited to write Friend of the Court briefs in several important Supreme Court cases, including among others two of the leading evidence cases and a petition for certiorari in a case involving President Bill and Hillary Clinton and Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. Rothstein has also participated in the American Bar Association’s rating of U.S. Supreme Court nominees. That Court and others have cited Rothstein’s scholarly works. His influence has been credited in the autobiographical books of several well-known public figures.
He participated in legal teams successfully expanding the right against private racial discrimination in the U.S. Supreme Court; and, in another case, winning, in the Texas high court, a new trial for Jack Ruby, who shot Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of President John F. Kennedy. (Unfortunately Ruby passed away before the new trial).
In 2018 Professor Rothstein was awarded the Marquis Who’s Who Lifetime Achievement Award; and in 2023 he received the Association of American Law Schools’ Evidence Section’s Wigmore Lifetime Achievement Award.
Frequently sought out by news media as a public commentator on many of the important legal developments of our times, Rothstein also lectures on Washington governmental and legal institutions to young people visiting DC (in, e.g., programs organized by the “Close-Up”Foundation). Prof. Rothstein has been engaged at different times as the regular legal analyst for CNN, CBS, ABC, and NBC on certain more continuing legal affairs. He regularly covered the Supreme Court for CNN and CBS, including Bush v. Gore, covered the entire Clinton impeachment trial for MSNBC, and the entire O.J. Simpson trial for WJLA. He has also appeared regularly on a number of matters for C-SPAN; on WTOP; from time to time on PBS, NPR, the BBC (and the other English network, ITV), and occasionally on Fox news and CNBC. He was a forceful critic of the cigarette industry in an early impactful CBS “60 Minutes” episode on that subject. The New York Times, in which he has frequently appeared, has said “the two best-known pundits of the airwaves are Arthur Miller of Harvard Law School and Paul Rothstein of Georgetown Law School.” People Magazine—describing Rothstein as a “dignified and scholarly author and professor”—praised him as a “top TV and media commentator, able to make complex legal matters clear for the public.” (He also has a brief entry in IMDb—the “Internet Movie Data base”—and has appeared on Entertainment Tonight and pictured on the Daily Show.) His extended engagements for the news media included covering Iran-Contra, the cases of Oliver North, General Noriega, Mayor Marion Barry, Elian Gonzalez, the Waco seige, and other lengthy legal/political imbroglios, including among others the conspiracy theories about the death of Princess Diana. Some other more occasional isolated news items are listed on the law school website. He also did a stint as a commentator on Court TV. In short, he has been in constant demand by and in extensive appearances in the news media including among others the NY Times, the Washington Post, the L.A. Times, the Associated Press,, and almost every television network, including those in the U.S., England, and Canada (and occasionally elsewhere).
At Georgetown, he has served as chairperson of the university-wide rank and tenure committee (for many years), and of the law school’s constitution committee and journals committee. He has also been a member of the university’s disciplinary committee, the university’s professionalism committee, and other law school and university committees. As professor he helped found the student-run Georgetown Law Gilbert & Sullivan Society and has lent his fine bass-baritone voice to several of its musical productions. He lists that as “the second most fun thing I have done at Georgetown, just below teaching.” The Society advertises itself as “the only Theater group with its own law school.”
Some SELECTED recent scholarly works of Rothstein:
Past Racist Acts Evidence and the Character Evidence Ban in Hate Crime Prosecutions (2023) (on SSRN top 10 list) https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=
Differentiating Strict Products Liability’s Cost-Benefit Analysis from Negligence (2022) (on SSRN top 10 list) https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4072959.
Evidence in a Nutshell (7th Ed. 2022)
Confrontation’s Multi-Analyst Problem (2021) on SSRN top 10 https://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/2371/
Federal Rules of Evidence (2023) treatise & Westlaw
Confrontation Clause & Memory Loss (2020) https://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/2241/
Federal Testimonial Privileges (2023) treatise & Westlaw
Evidence Casebook 5th (2019) plus detailed teachers manual
A Game of Katso and Mouse: Forensics & Confrontation Clause (2018) (on SSRN top 10) https://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/2114/
Demystifying Civil, Criminal Burdens, Presumptions (2017) https://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/2001 Links to an external site on SSRN top 10, under book contract.
More that might be of interest (somewhat older):
Doctrine-of-Chances, Oxford Univ. Jour. of Law, Probability & Risk https://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/1481;
Doctrinal Issues in Evidence and Proof https://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/2228/;
Federal Rules of Evidence Debate (lavishly praised by legendary Federal Judge Jack Weinstein, a founding father of the Federal Rules of Evidence), https://dspace2.creighton.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10504/84525/49CreightonLRev121.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y.
Distinctions on the globe-spanning Social Science Research Network (“SSRN”):
Rothstein’s recently on both SSRN’s “Top 10% of Authors by All-Time Downloads” and “Top 10% New Downloads in Last 12 Months.” In addition, a number of his individual articles have made the SSRN top ten list for individual articles as indicated above.
Professor Rothstein is listed in honorary directories such as the “Directory of American Scholars” and “Who’s Who”; has debated at the Oxford University Union debating society (famous for producing English prime ministers); is a lifetime member of Oxford University’s Brasenose Society (named after the door knocker on a medieval Oxford college); and, most meaningfully to him, he says, of anything that has ever happened to him, is that he is married to a fabulous English woman he met there at Oxford.
Contributions to Law Reviews and Other Scholarly Journals
U.S. Supreme Court Briefs
"Push to Gag Trump Pits Free Speech Against Risk of Violence," coverage in The New York Times, September 22, 2023, featuring Professor Paul F. Rothstein.
"How Might Trump Challenge the March 4 Trial Date in the Federal Election Case?" coverage in the New York Times, on Aug. 29, 2023, featuring Professor Paul F. Rothstein.
"What we know before the Jonathan Majors trial," coverage in The Washington Post, July 2, 2023, featuring Professor Paul Rothstein.
"How a Trump-Appointed Judge Could Influence His Documents Case," coverage in The New York Times, June 12, 2023, featuring Professor Paul F. Rothstein.