Ira P. Robbins

Professor of Law and Justice
Director of the JD/MS Dual Degree Program in Law and Justice
Barnard T. Welsh Scholar

Office: Room 322
Phone: 202-274-4235
E-mail: vCard


Ira Robbins, Professor at AU's Washington College of Law and Director of the Dual Degree Program in Justice, Law, and Criminology, is an expert on criminal law and procedure, the death penalty, habeas corpus, post-conviction remedies, corrections, prisoners' rights, privatization of prisons and jails, conspiracy law, the insanity defense, criminology, the Supreme Court, judicial nominations, judicial administration, conflict of laws, and judicial process. He was Acting Director of the Federal Judicial Center's Education and Training Division and served as the reporter for the American Bar Association's Task Force on Death Penalty Habeas Corpus and its Task Force on Privatization of Corrections. Professor Robbins also served as a Supreme Court Fellow and as a special consultant to the Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules of the Judicial Conference of the United States. In 2008, Professor Robbins was named a member of the American Bar Association Task Force on Post-Conviction Remedies.

Professor Robbins is one of the founding members of the WCL Criminal Justice Practice and Policy Institute (2013). His recent books include Habeas Corpus Checklists (2014) and Prisoners and the Law (six vols., 2014). His interviews and analyses have appeared on all of the major U.S. and foreign television and radio networks (including The Colbert Report on Comedy Central) and in such publications as Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, London Times, New York Times, New York Times Magazine, New Yorker, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, ABA Journal, National Law Journal, and Legal Times. Many of Robbins' recent media inquiries have focused on the legal proceedings and trials in terrorism and other high-profile cases, as well as on many criminal cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Professor Robbins' honors and awards include the Chief Judge John R. Brown Award for Judicial Scholarship and Education (1998). He is also a Life Member of the American Law Institute. At American University, he received the University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching (1985) and was selected as American University’s Scholar/Teacher of the Year (1988), the University’s highest faculty award. In 2010, Professor Robbins won the Pauline Ruyle Moore Award, in recognition of his scholarly work in the area of public law. In 2011, he was selected as the first recipient of the Washington College of Law Award for Exemplary Teaching.

Apart from his law-related endeavors, Professor Robbins is an award-winning photographer.



Areas of Specialization

  • Conflict of Laws
  • Habeas Corpus / Post-Conviction Remedies
  • International Legal Exchange
  • Prison Litigation / Prisoners’ Rights
  • Criminal Law
  • Capital Punishment
  • Criminal Procedure
  • First Amendment
  • Sentencing Law
  • Social Networking and the Law

Degrees & Universities

  • A.B., University of Pennsylvania
  • J.D., Harvard Law School

  • Selected Publications

    • + More Publications...

    • Books

    • Ira P. Robbins, Habeas Corpus Checklists (Thomson/Reuters/West, 2014).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Prisoners and the Law (Thomson/West, six vols., 2014).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Managing Prisoner Civil Rights Cases in the Federal Courts (prepared for the Federal Judicial Center, 1995).
    • Ira P. Robbins, et al., Crime Bill: Highlights of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (Clark Boardman 1994).
    • Ira P. Robbins, A Study of the Proceedings for Processing Pro Se Prisoner Appeals in the United States Courts of Appeals for the Sixth and Tenth Circuits (prepared for the Federal Judicial Center, 1993).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Toward a More Just and Effective System of Review in State Death Penalty Cases: Recommendations and Report to the American Bar Association Task Force on Death Penalty Habeas Corpus (American Bar Association 1990).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Rationalizing Federal Habeas Corpus Review of State Court Criminal Convictions in Capital Cases (Background & Issues Paper) (American Bar Association 1989).
    • Ira P. Robbins, The Legal Dimensions of Private Incarceration (American Bar Association 1988).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Judicial Sabbaticals (Federal Judicial Center 1987).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Habeas Corpus Relief (Georgia State University 1987).
    • Ira P. Robbins, A Study of the Procedures for Processing Pro Se Prisoner Appeals in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (prepared for the Federal Judicial Center, 1986).
    • Ira P. Robbins, The Law and Processes of Post-Conviction Remedies: Cases and Materials (West Publishing Company 1982).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Prisoners' Rights Sourcebook: Theory, Litigation, Practice (Clark Boardman 1980).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Comparative Postconviction Remedies (D.C. Heath/Lexington Books 1980).
    • Other Publications

    • Ira P. Robbins, Settlement Sentiments, 93 A.B.A. J. 6 (May 2007).
    • Ira P. Robbins, The Deaths in Custody Reporting Act: Status and Recommendations, in Prisoners and the Law (Thomson/West, Ira P. Robbins, ed., 2008).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Prosecute Tobacco Companies, Executives for Homicide, 17 Corporate Crime Rptr. 10 (Mar.24, 2003).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Pondering Nightclub Nightmares, Wash. Post (Mar. 3, 2003).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Magistrate Judges, Article III, and the Power to Preside Over Federal Prisoner Section 2255 Proceedings, 2002 Fed. Cts. L. Rev. 2 (2002).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Put Tobacco Executives on Death Row, National L.J. (Aug. 17, 1998).
    • Charles W. Nihan & Ira P. Robbins, Judge Wright and Her Husband's Advice, Wash. Post (Mar. 6, 1998).
    • Ira P. Robbins, The Supreme Court and Inmate-on-Inmate Violence: Commentary on Luttrell v. Nickel, 2:4 The Forensic Echo 17 (Mar. 1998).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Disabled Prisoners and the Law, 10 Health L. News 5 (June 1997).
    • Ira P. Robbins, No Hard Questions on Private Prisons, Wash. Times (Mar. 25, 1997).
    • Ira P. Robbins, D.C. Government Has Really Sold Out Now, Wash. Post (Feb. 6, 1997).
    • Ira P. Robbins, The Problems with Prisons for Profit, Corrections Forum (Jan./Feb. 1997).
    • Ira P. Robbins, The Case Against the Prison-Industrial Complex, 2 Public Interest L. Rptr. 23 (1997).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Cutting Edge Issues in Habeas Corpus, in New Developments in the Federal Law of Habeas Corpus (ALI-ABA, 1996).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Symposium on the Future of the Federal Courts: Opening Comments, 46 Am. U. L. Rev. 263 (1996).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Opening Address: The Death Penalty in the Twenty-First Century: Questions and Directions, 45 Am. U. L. Rev. 243 (1995).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Ira P. Robbins, Professionalism and Pro-Activism: The Evolution of Inmate Rights in Federal Prisons, in Escaping Prison Myths: Selected Topics in the History of Federal Corrections (J. Roberts, ed., 1994).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Sabbaticals for Judges: Necessary in the Pursuit of Judicial Excellence, 8 St.-Fed. Jud. Observer 2 (1994).
    • Ira P. Robbins, The Prisoners' Mail Box and the Evolution of Federal Inmate Rights, 144 Federal Rules Decisions 127 (1993).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Interstate Certification of Questions of Law: A Valuable Process in Need of Reform, 76 Judicature 125 (1992).
    • Ira P. Robbins, The Uniform Certification of Questions of Law Act: A Proposal for Reform, 18 J. Legis. 127 (1992).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Private Corrections and the Law, in Privatization of Corrections: Pros and Cons (S. Brakel, ed., Reason Foundation Press 1990).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Death Penalty Habeas Corpus: Defining the Issues, 73 Judicature 215 (1990).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Debate Over Private Prisons Begs Ethical Questions, Manhattan Lawyer (Dec. 4, 1989).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Dungeons for Dollars: Private Enterprise Sees Money in Jails, Leg. Times (Nov. 27, 1989) (reprinted in Tex. Law., as " 'Dungeons for Dollars': Private Enterprise Sees Gold in Them Thar Jails" (Dec. 4, 1989)).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Privatization of Corrections: Professor Robbins Responds, 20:3 Crim. Just. Newsltr. 6 (Feb. 1, 1989).
    • Ira P. Robbins, The Legal Dimensions of Private Incarceration, 38 Am. U. L. Rev. 531 (1989).
    • John B. Corr & Ira P. Robbins, Interjurisdictional Certification and Choice of Law, 41 Vand. L. Rev. 411 (1988).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Society Deserves Judicial Sabbatcials, N.J. L.J. (Mar. 3, 1988).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Giving Sabbaticals to Judges Would Improve Courts, Manhattan Lawyer (Feb. 22, 1988).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Let's Give Our Judges a Break, Leg. Times (Feb. 8, 1988) (reprinted in Conn. L. Trib., Feb. 15, 1988, N.J. L.J., Mar. 3, 1998, 26:1 Ct. Rev. 4 (1989)).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Privatization of Prisons: An Analysis of the State Action Requirement of the Fourteenth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 20 Conn. L. Rev. 835 (1988).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Should Prisons Be Privately Run?: No Quick Fixes, 73 A.B.A. J. 38 (1987).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Possible Bars to Private Prisons, Wall St. J. (Feb. 23, 1987).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Spending Time Judiciously, 1986 Am. Inquiry 3 (1986).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Whither (or Wither) Habeas Corpus?: Observations on the Supreme Court's 1985 Term, 111 Federal Rules Decisions 265 (1986).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Should Private Firms Run Prisons for Profit?, Newsday (Mar. 31, 1985).
    • Ira P. Robbins & Susan M. Newell, The Continuing Diminshed Capacity Availability of Federal Habeas Corpus Review to Challenge State Court Judgments: Lehman v. Lycoming County Children's Service Agency, 33 Am. U. L. Rev. 271 (1984).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Solicitation to Commit Crimes, in Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice (S. Kadish et al., eds., MacMillian 1983).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Federal Courts and State Prison Reform, in Discretion and the Ciminal Justice System (M. Evans, ed., Sage Publications 1978).
    • Ira P. Robbins, The Constitutional Implications of State Prison Reform, in Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Conference on Corrections (National Institute of Corrections 1978).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Federalism, State Prison Reform, and Evolving Standards of Human Decency: On Guessing, Stressing, and Redressing Constitutional Rights, 26 Kan. L. Rev. 551 (1978).
    • Ira P. Robbins & Harvey J. Sepler, A Behavioral Analysis of Legal Intent, 4 L. & Psychol. Rev. 19 (1978).
    • Ira P. Robbins & James E. Sanders, Judicial Integrity, the Appearance of Justice, and the Great Writ of Habeas Corpus: How to Kill Two Thirds (or More) with One Stone, 15 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 1877 (1977).
    • Ira P. Robbins, The Admissibility of Social Science Evidence in Person-Oriented Legal Adjudication, 50 Indiana L.J. 403 (1975).
    • John P. Flannery & Ira P. Robbins, The Misunderstood Pro Se Litigant: More than a Pawn in the Game, 41 Brook. L. Rev. 769 (1975).
  • + Selected Presentations

    • Ira P. Robbins, Lecture, Federal Habeas Corpus Relief for State and Federal Prisoners (Federal Judicial Center Seminar for Newly Appointed Federal District Judges, Washington, D.C, Feb. 2014) (Washington, D.C.).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Lecture, Federal Habeas Corpus Relief for State and Federal Prisoners (Federal Judicial Center Seminar for Newly Appointed Federal District Judges, Washington, D.C., Feb. 2013) (Washington, D.C.).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Lecture, Federal Habeas Corpus Relief for State and Federal Prisoners (Federal Judicial Center Seminar for Newly Appointed Federal District Judges, Washington, D.C., 2011).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Lecture, Federal Habeas Corpus -- Recent Developments (Appellate Judges Education Institute, 2011 Summit, Washington, D.C., 2011).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Lecture, Habeas Corpus — The Interplay Between State and Federal Courts (Appellate Judges Education Institute, 2007 Summit, Washington, D.C., 2007).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Lecture, Law and Justice: The Case for Parliamentary Scrutiny (Seminar for members of parliamentary human rights bodies organized jointly by the Association for the Prevention of Torture, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and the International Commission of Jurists, Geneva, Switzerland, 2006).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Speech, The Supreme Court’s Habeas Corpus Cases of the 2005-2006 Term (Federal Judicial Ceter National Workshop for Magistrate Judges, San Francisco, Cal., 2006).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Lecture, Federal Habeas Corpus Relief for State and Federal Prisoners (Federal Judicial Center Seminar for Newly Appointed Federal District Judges, Washington, D.C, 2006).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Speech, Selected Issues in the Law of Federal Habeas Corpus Relief for State and Federal Prisoners, (Georgetown University Law Center’s Continuing Legal Education Program, Wash., D.C., 2004).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Seminar, Habeas Corpus Theory and Practice Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (presented to judges and law clerks of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, Trenton, N.J., 2003).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Lecture, Justice by the Numbers: The Supreme Court and the Rule of Four — Or Is It Five? (Frank J. Donahue Lecture, Suffolk University Law School, Boston, Mass., 2002).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Speech, Federal Appellate Jurisdiction: Its Elements and Its Evolving Content (Federal Judicial Center's Seminar for United States Court of Appeals Judges, Stanford University, Palo Alto, Cal., Apr. 1999).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Speech, The Virtually Compleat Appellate Judge: John Marshall Greets the 21st Century (Appellate Judges Conference of the American Bar Association, Arlington, Va., Mar. 1999).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Testimony, Hearings on Privatization of Corrections Before the Joint Senate-House Judiciary Committee of the Oregon Legislature (Oregon, 1998).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Speech, Federal Habeas Corpus and the Role of the State Judge (American Bar Association, Appellate Judges' Seminar, Ashville, N.C., Sept. 1997).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Speech, Federal Habeas Corpus and the Antiterrorism Act (Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association's Council of Appellate Staff Attorneys (CASA), Burlington, Vt., June 1997).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Speech, The History of Federal Inmate Rights (Annual Meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, Boston, Mass., Mar. 1995).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Speech, The Future of Privatization in Criminal Justice (University of Maryland Distinguished Lecturer Series, College Park, Md., May 1994).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Speech, The Bill of Rights, Incorporation, and Criminal Defendants' Rights (Judicial Conference of the Tenth Circuit, Sedona, Ariz., July 1991).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Speech, Professionalism and Pro-Activism: The Evolution of Inmate Rights in Federal Prisons (Federal Bureau of Prisons, National Archives, and Smithsonian Institution Conference on The History of Federal Corrections, March 1991, Washington, D.C. (commemorating the centennial of the Three Prisons Act, ch. 529, 26 Stat. 839 (1891), which established the first federal prisons in the United States, Mar. 1991)).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Testimony, Testimony on Privatization of Correctional Facilities Before the Finance Committee of the Virginia Senate (Richmond, Va., July 1990).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Testimony, Testimony on Death Penalty Review Before the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Administration of Justice of the House Committee on the Judiciary (101st Cong., 2d Sess., May 24, 1990).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Testimony, Testimony on Death Penalty Habeas Corpus Before the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate (Feb. 21, 1990).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Testimony, Testimony on Federal Habeas Corpus Relief for State Prisoners Before the Federal Courts Study Committee (Washington, D.C., Feb. 1990).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Testimony, Testimony on Privatization of Jails Before the Alachua County, Florida Board of County Commissioners (Gainsville, Florida, Dec. 1989).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Testimony, Testimony on Privatization of Corrections Before the President's Commission on Privatization (Washington, D.C., Dec. 1987) (appeared on behalf of the American Bar Association).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Testimony, Privatization of Corrections, Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Courts, Civil Liberties and the Administration of Justice of the House Committee on the Judiciary, 99th Cong., 1st & 2d Sess. 69 (1986).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Speech, Whither (or Wither) Habeas Corpus? (Judicial Conference of the Eleventh Circuit, Atlanta, Ga., May 1986).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Testimony, Testimony on Privatization of Corrections Before the Tennessee House of Representatives Finance, Ways and Means Committee, (Nashville, Tennessee, Feb. 24, 1986) (appeared on behalf of the American Bar Association).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Lecture, The Theory and Practice of Federal Habeas Corpus for State Prisoners (seven videotaped lectures with accompanying materials, prepared for the Federal Judicial Center, 1985).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Speech, Prisoners' Rights and the Burden of Reform (Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology, D.C., Nov. 1981).
  • + Selected Honors & Awards

    • Washington College of Law Award for Exemplary Teaching (first recipient, 2011).
    • Biographee in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who Among American Teachers and Educators, Who’s Who in American Education, Who’s Who in American Law, Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who of Emerging Leaders in America, Men of Achievement, International Who’s Who of Intellectuals, Dictionary of International Biography, Directory of American Scholars. (2009).
    • American Law Institute (since 1982; Life Member, since 2007).
    • Pauline Ruyle Moore Scholar Award, for scholarly contribution in the area of public law (2010).
    • Resolution of the Federal Magistrate Judges Association "honoring Ira P. Robbins for his contributions as an editor of the Federal Courts Law Review” (2002).
    • Emalee C. Godsey Scholar Award (2002).
    • Resolution of the Federal Magistrate Judges Association "honoring Ira P. Robbins for his efforts and service to the Federal Magistrate Judges Association in assisting by his ready advice the establishment of the Federal Courts Law Review. His assistance has materially enhanced the visibility of the Magistrate Judges of the United States” (1998).
    • Chief Judge John R. Brown Award for Judicial Scholarship and Education (1998).
    • Washington College of Law Award for Outstanding Teaching (1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1994, 1997).
    • Elected to the "Speakers’ Hall of Fame," Council of Appellate Staff Attorneys, American Bar Association, Appellate Judges Conference (1996).
    • Honorary Member, Federal District Court Pro Se Law Clerks and Staff Attorneys Association (1991).
    • Honorary Member, Phi Delta Phi Legal Fraternity (1989).
    • American University Scholar/Teacher of the Year (1988).
    • Supreme Court Fellow (1985-86).
    • Honorary Member, Alabama Judicial College Faculty Association (1986).
    • American University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching (1985).
    • Barnard T. Welsh Scholar (since 1982; first recipient).
    • “Outstanding Young Man of America Award” from United States Jaycees (1982).
    • Washington College of Law Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Research, and Other Professional Contributions (1981).
    • Pauline Ruyle Moore Scholar in Public Law (first recipient, 1980-81; 1989-90).
    • Ethel and Raymond F. Rice Prize for Faculty Scholarship (Univ. of Kansas School of Law, 1978).
  • + Selected Media Appearances

  • + Selected Teaching Materials

    • Ira P. Robbins, Teaching Materials on Conflict of Laws ( 2013).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Teaching Materials on Criminal Law ( 2014).
    • Ira P. Robbins, Teaching Materials on Post-Conviction Remedies ( 2009).