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James K. Robinson

James K. Robinson

Jim Robinson  (1998-2001)

Early History: James Kenneth Robinson was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1943.  He graduated from Michigan State University and earned a law degree from Wayne State University in 1968.  Mr. Robinson clerked for Judge George Edwards of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  He then went into private practice in Detroit, specializing in litigation and later becoming a partner and a law firm.

In 1977—at the age of 33—Mr. Robinson was named the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, which had one of the heaviest caseloads in the nation at the time.  In 1981, Mr. Robinson returned to private practice, where he chaired the committee that drafts the Michigan Rules of Evidence and he co-authored a three-volume treatise and a courtroom handbook on the rules of evidence.  In 1993, Mr. Robinson was named Dean and Professor of Law at Wayne State University Law School.  That same year, Chief Justice William Rehnquist appointed him to the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Evidence.

Tenure: In 1998, President Bill Clinton nominated Mr. Robinson to serve as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division.  He took the helm from John C. Keeney, who had served as Acting Assistant Attorney General for almost three years.  As Assistant Attorney General, Mr. Robinson increased the Division’s focus on dismantling transnational crime and stationed attorneys at U.S. embassies throughout the world.  He also helped expand the Division’s resources for combatting drug trafficking and computer crime.

Later Career: In 2001, Mr. Robinson left the Division for private practice in Washington, D.C.  From 2001 to 2002, he served as a consultant for the United Nations Center for International Crime Prevention in Vienna, conducting a global study on the transfer of funds of illicit origin.

On August 6, 2010, Mr. Robinson died at the age of 66 of cancer.  He left behind two children, five grandchildren, and his wife, Marietta “Marti” Robinson, who later became a Commissioner with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  In a condolence letter to Mrs. Robinson, then-Attorney General Eric Holder wrote, “As Assistant Attorney General, Jim embodied the steady and steely resolve under pressure that we need and expect from our public servants.  Every action that he took, and every decision that he made, reflected his singular desire to do justice and serve the people of this nation.”

This material is based on the review of a variety of historical sources and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. If you have any corrections or additional information about this individual or about the history of the Criminal Division, please contact the Division.

Updated August 22, 2016