Richard Wilson Papers

Identifier: NEJL-003

Scope and Contents

The collection includes predominantly materials documenting Richard Wilson's work as the director of the Defender Division at the NLADA from 1980-1985, including a variety of reports evaluating local, regional and federal defender systems in the United States. It also includes conference papers, testomonies, and documentation related to two court cases related to the right to effective counsel in criminal proceedings: United States v. Harrison P. Cronic, 466 U.S. 648 (1984), and James Harris v. State of Indiana, 519 N.E.2d 1253 (1988).


  • 1973 - 1992



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Biographical / Historical

After receiving his Juris Doctor in 1972 from the University of Illinois College of Law, Richard Wilson began his legal career as a public defender in Illinois. Prior to attending law school, he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Panama from 1966-1968. After graduating, Wilson worked as a staff attorney in the Elgin office of the Illinois Office of the State Appellate Defender from 1972-1974, then became director of the Springfield office of the same Office (1974-1980). In 1980, Wilson became Director of the Defender Division at the National Legal Aid and Defender Association in Washington, DC, where he served until 1985.

He began his teaching career at CUNY Law School in New York City in 1985, and returned to Washington, DC as an Associate Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law in 1989. He remains at American University, where he became a Professor of Law in 1994. He is the founding director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic, and has served as the Director of Clinical programs and as Faculty for a number of international programs. He has traveled extensively as a Professor, and frequently consults, writes and speaks on matters relating to international human rights law, the death penalty in international law, legal aid systems, and clinical legal instruction in developing nations.

Wilson authored the brief of the European Union cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in its decisions finding that the imposition of the death penalty against juveniles and mentally retarded defendants is unconstitutional. A CV and a list of selected publications are available on his AU website:


0.2 linear feet

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged into four series: conference papers; legal documents; reports and studies, and testimonies.

Finding Aid for the Richard Wilson Papers (Coll. 3)
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the National Equal Justice Library Repository

Georgetown University Law Library
111 G. Street NW
Washington D.C. 20001