Friday, April 5, 2013

Dennis Roberts Resume

My law offices are at 370 Grand Avenue, Oakland, California 94610, telephone (510) 465-6363, facsimile (510) 465-7375,, and

I received a B.A. degree from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1961 and an LL.B. from Boalt Hall, University of California School of Law, Berkeley, California, in 1964.
I have been a member of the California Bar since 1965 and am admitted to practice before all California courts, state and federal, numerous United States District Courts, the Fifth and Ninth Circuits of the United States Court of Appeal, and the United States Supreme Court.

In the summer of 1963 under a program sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild I spent the summer in Albany, Georgia working for the only Black attorney in southwest Georgia, and one of only two Black attorneys in all of the Deep South willing to risk taking on a white law student clerk, C. B. King.

In November 2002 the new U. S. District Court in Albany, Georgia was named the C. B. King Courthouse - the only federal court in the deep South named for a black lawyer. When I was in Albany they wouldn’t let him use their law library.

The experience in Albany was so profound that upon graduating in 1964 and passing the California Bar exam I returned to Albany, Georgia, this time under the auspices of the Law Students Civil Rights Research Council (LSCRRC), an organization of which I was a founding member, dedicated to producing research and providing summer interns to the Movement lawyers. From 1964 until 1966, I worked with C. B. King, Esq., where I represented members of the Student Non-Violent Coordination Committee (SNCC), Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Southern Conference Education Fund (SCEF), along with various local civil rights activists and movement groups. I defended numerous criminal prosecutions under various statutes from disorderly conduct to riot and arson and I was involved in dozens of federal suits under the Civil Rights Statutes for equal treatment of minority groups and public accommodation suits in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia and the United States Court of Appeal for the Fifth Circuit. Much of my work was done in conjunction with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. (Inc Fund).

In 1966, based on her starting an interracial nursery school in Albany one year before Head Start my wife was offered a full scholarship to get an MA in Pre-School Education at Bank Street College in NYC so we moved there.

From 1966 through 1969, I was the first staff attorney and administrator of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. The Center was founded by William Kunstler, Arthur Kinoy, Morton Stavis (New Jersey), and Ben Smith (New Orleans) as a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing equal treatment under the law to all citizens. While at the Center, I litigated cases in federal and state courts throughout the country on behalf of various Movement organizations and individuals. I brought numerous Dombrowski v. Pfister, [380 U.S.479] three judge federal suits, successfully attacking the unconstitutional application of state statues, including Carmichael v. Atlanta, Baker v. Binder and Brooks v. Briley; sought to enjoin enforcement of Title II of the McCarran Act (although unsuccessful, within a year or two Congress nullified the statute - this statute provided that "in time of national emergency" the Attorney General could round up "radicals" for immediate detention - despite Congress taking it off the books it has recently been reintroduced after Sept 11th); was involved in litigation on behalf of Rejes Tijerina in New Mexico (seeking to reclaim land stolen from the Native people by the U. S. Government); did the Oceanhill-Brownsville (Brooklyn, New York) litigation and other school suits; sued to enjoin enforcement of the Tennessee Anti-Evolution Statute (after suit was filed the Tenn. Legislature abolished the statute. That law prohibited the teaching of evolution and demanded a "god based" theory - interestingly enough I recently heard that Tennessee again has passed such legislation thanks to the Born Again vote); filed numerous appeals in various United States Courts of Appeal and the United States Supreme Court; was responsible, along with Michael Tigar, Esq., for all of the pre-trial motions in the Chicago Eight (later Seven) case; was one of the attorneys in McSurely v. McClellen (USSC); did dozens of Grand Jury cases; numerous anti-VietNam war demonstration and selective service cases including Jeannette Rankin Brigade (USSC) and represented members of virtually every political action group active during that time period. I also represented members of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) in First Amendment litigation - quashed an injunction keeping Mark Rudd (SDS) from speaking on campus in Texas; was involved in the First Amendment issues in the flag burning case (Johnson) which went to the USSC and also did one in Georgia (not very successful in the early Sixties).

In 1969, I was awarded a Reginald Heber Smith Fellowship and spent a year with the Legal Aid Society of Alameda County working with Black and Chicano community groups on police misconduct issues in Oakland, California.

From 1970 to 1973, I was an associate with Kennedy and Rhine in San Francisco, engaged in the general practice of law, with an emphasis on criminal defense and civil rights litigation. I was one of the pre-trial attorneys in the Angela Davis case, again with Michael Tigar and sued the City and County of San Francisco to enjoin police sweeps of young Asian men in Chinatown (Chan v. Alioto).

In 1973, I opened my own law office in Oakland. I have tried to dedicate a substantial portion of my time to pro bono work and in this regard, have represented a number of Asian and Latino community organizations, including serving as a volunteer attorney for the United Farm Workers Union and writing a portion of the winning brief in Murgia v. Muncipal Court (1975) 15 Cal.3d 286 (the lead California selective prosecution and equal protection case). I have also represented Dennis Banks and other members of the American Indian Movement(See, United States v. Loudhawk which went to the U.S.S.C. twice and the Ninth Circuit three times. This representation went on for 14 years. I successfully withstood the attempts to extradite Dennis to South Dakota from both California and Oregon. The federal criminal case brought against Mr. Banks has been litigated since 1975, in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. The case was finally resolved, favorably, 14 years later.

I have lectured at Boalt Hall (University of California Law School) and at seminars sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild; the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws); was on the faculty of the Hastings College School of Law for Trial and Appellate Advocacy (Criminal), am currently teaching at the Stanford University Law School Trial Advocacy Skills Workshop, the University of San Francisco Law School Trial Advocacy Program; and taught a law for journalists course for several years at San Francisco State University.

I am a past President of California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (1980-1981), an organization of approximately 9,000 members; and was on the ACLU Legal Committee. I serve on the Board of Governors of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City; on the Board of the Prison Law Office (Marin County, CA); and served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (Washington, D.C.) for four terms (12 years). NACDL is the largest and most respected criminal defense bar in the United States, having a core membership of well over 20,000 attorneys and a group of participating lawyers (through their state organizations like CACJ) bringing the total to about 25,000.

I am the only criminal lawyer in Oakland listed in the California Criminal Law section of "The Best Lawyers in America" by Naifeh and Smith (1991-1992). I have gained acquittals in four homicide trials as well as winning numerous jury trials, both civil and criminal in the state and federal courts of California and other jurisdictions, including People v. Kuzinich and Tausan, Santa Clara Superior Court (homicide) No. 207048 and United States v. Boban, et al, S.D.N.Y. (RICO) before Hon. Constance Baker Motley (see United States v. Bagaric, 706 F.2d 47 (2d. Cir. 1983) fn8. Both Kuzinich and Boban were trials which lasted three and one half months each. We were victorious in both cases. The Boban case (with 9 co-defendants) was a prosecution of Croatians in the U. S. who allegedly sent weapons to Croatia and committed violent acts against Yugoslav targets in the U. S. before the independence of Croatia.

I am curently involved in founding, with Jason Flores-Williams (Santa Fe, N.M.) and Jay Leiderman (Ventura, CA), the Whistleblowers Defense League (WBDL) a group of volunteer attorneys dedicated to providing counseling for those debating whether to expose themselves to prosecution for blowing the whistle on government misdeeds and representing those who have been prosecuted.

Dennis Roberts Attorney at Law

370 Grand Ave., Suite 1 
Oakland, CA 94610-4892 
PH: (510) 465-6363 
FAX: (510) 465-7375

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