Meet the Director

Professor Peter Erlinder (Ret.) is past-President of the National Lawyers Guild from 1993 to 1997, President of ADAD (the UN-ICTR defense lawyers associations, Arusha, Tanzania), a founding member of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms and the Minnesota Bill of Rights Defense Coalition, established to defend the civil liberties of Muslims.

After graduating from Chicago-Kent College of Law, Erlinder pioneered defense of Vietnam Veterans with PTSD facing the death penalty, and has represented many Native American, civil rights, Muslim and political activists facing misuse of government power, including Palestinian activist Dr. Sami al Arian and the Cuban-5.

In May 2010, he was imprisoned in Rwanda while defending Rwandan presidential candidate, Victoire Ingabire, and charged with “genocide denial” for having won the acquittal of his ICTR client on “genocide conspiracy” charges. Many groups, including the National Lawyers Guild, the American Bar Association, and members of the U.S. Senate and House called for his release, which was eventually won by an international grass-roots campaign.

After his release, Erlinder returned to the tenured faculty at William Mitchell College of Law, St Paul, MN. He has since retired. He has also held faculty positions or lectured at the University of Chicago Law School, IIT-Chicago Kent, Golden Gate University, Waseda University, Hitosubashi University, University of Wisconsin, University of Illinois, Columbia University, American University, and others. His articles and commentary have been published by University of Pennsylvania, Boston College, Northwestern University, University of Texas, University of Southern California, and others, as well as print and electronic media worldwide.