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 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, 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 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.
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.
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). He has been engaged at different times as the regular legal analyst for CNN, CBS, ABC, and NBC on certain of the more continuing or extended type legal affairs. For example 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 and NPR; 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. People Magazine has lauded him as a top legal commentator, able to make complex legal matters clear for the public. His extended engagements 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. Some other more occasional isolated news items are listed under news items below on this cite.
At Georgetown, he has served as chair of the university-wide rank and tenure committee (for many years), the law school journals committee, the university disciplinary committee, and the university’s professionalism committee, among others. He also 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.”
Some SELECTED recent scholarly works of Rothstein:
Brand new in 2022: Differentiating Strict Products Liability’s Cost-Benefit Analysis from Negligence (on SSRN top 10 list) https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4072959 and EVIDENCE IN A NUTSHELL (7th Ed. Jan. 2022). See also: 1) Confrontation’s Multi-Analyst Problem (2021) on SSRN top 10 https://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/2371/ . 2) Fed. Rs. Evid. (2022) treatise & Westlaw. 3) Confrontation & Memory Loss (2020) https://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/2241/ 4) Fed. Testim. Privs. (2021) treatise & Westlaw. 5) Evid. Casebk 5th (2019) plus detailed teach.man. 6) A Game of Katso and Mouse: Forensics & Confront. Clause (2018) on SSRN top 10, 7) Demystifying Civ., Crim. Burdens, Presumptions (2017) https://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/2001 on SSRN top 10, under bk 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, who had earlier been the leading judicial member of the team drafting 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 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 of all his endeavors he says, he is married to a fabulous English woman he met at Oxford.
U.S. Supreme Court Briefs
Professor Paul F. Rothstein featured at an event, Unavailability Workshop: An Online Legal Series, August 13, 2020.
"Breathalyzer Giant Accused of Fraud Won't Come Clean About Booze Tests", coverage in The Daily Beast, February 3, 2020 quoting Professor Paul Rothstein.
"Gorsuch has ruled for police, and suspects, in crime cases," coverage by Livingston Ledger, December 15, 2019, quoting Professor Paul Rothstein.