Wayne State University

Aim Higher

Wayne Law remembers James K. Robinson

James K. Robinson, ’68, former partner at Honigman Miller, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, former Assistant Attorney General of the United States, and the seventh Dean of Wayne State University Law School, passed away Aug. 6, 2010. A memorial service was held Aug. 12, 2010, at 2 p.m. in Wayne State University’s Community Arts Auditorium near the Law School.

Memorial Service program

Memorial Service Remarks: Hon. Avern Cohn, Richard Rossman, Dean Emeritus John W. Reed, William Hochkammer
Memorial Service Remarks: Michael Horowitz
Memorial Service Remarks: Randall J. Turk

Below article from Paul Egan, The Detroit News, 8/9/10

Former U.S. Attorney, WSU law school dean Robinson dead at 66

James K. Robinson, who became U.S. Attorney in Detroit at age 34 and later held a top post in the U.S. Justice Department, has died at age 66.

Mr. Robinson, who also served as dean of the Wayne State University Law School, died Friday at his vacation home near Park City, Utah, after a battle with cancer.

Members of the legal community said they will remember Mr. Robinson, who was U.S. Attorney in Detroit from 1977 until 1980, for his integrity and his keen legal mind.

"He was just a remarkable person," said Troy attorney Thomas Cranmer, who was hired by Mr. Robinson as a federal prosecutor and later became close friends with Mr. Robinson and his wife, Marietta.

Soon after he took office, Mr. Robinson made the controversial decision not to retry nurses at the veterans' hospital in Allen Park after their convictions in connection with patient deaths at the hospital had been set aside.

There was considerable controversy and pressure to try the case again, but Mr. Robinson "made what he thought was the right decision, not the easy decision," Cranmer said.

In addition to being a great attorney, Cranmer remembered Mr. Robinson as "very much a legal scholar" who was "wise beyond his years" and coached the prosecutors in his office on the federal rules of evidence, which were relatively new when he became U.S. Attorney.

Mr. Robinson chaired a committee that drafted the Michigan Rules of Evidence and co-authored a three-volume treatise and a courtroom handbook on the rules of evidence.

Keith Corbett is another former federal prosecutor in Detroit hired by Mr. Robinson, in 1978.

"Jim was an extremely bright and organized guy," Corbett said today.

"He made it a high priority to find people he felt were qualified and then he gave those people a significant amount of autonomy to go ahead and do their jobs," Corbett said. "He was not a micro-manager."

After his stint as U.S. Attorney, Mr. Robinson headed the litigation department for the Detroit firm Honigman, Miller, Schwartz & Cohn. He was named dean of the law school at Wayne State University in 1993 and left that post in 1998, when former President Bill Clinton appointed him assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division at the U.S. Justice Department. He served there until 2001.

"He was an architect and advocate for tough and fair law enforcement policies that have led to historic reductions in crime," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

When he died, Mr. Robinson was a partner at Cadwalader Wickersham and Taft in Washington, D.C.

In 2007, U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen, who is now chief judge, retained Mr. Robinson to successfully fight a subpoena he received during the obstruction of justice trial of former Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino.

"I'm very saddened by his death," Rosen said today. "James Robinson was not only a fine lawyer and an exemplary professional but also a fine human being.

"His many friends and admirers are the measure of his professionalism, integrity, ability, and his human compassion."

A graduate of Michigan State University and Wayne State University Law School, where he edited the law review, Mr. Robinson clerked for U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge George Edwards.

Mr. Robinson, who was born in Grand Rapids, is survived by his wife of 28 years; his son, Steven, of Grand Blanc; his daughter, Renee Stromberg, of Stockholm, Sweden; five grandchildren; his mother; and five siblings.

A memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. Thursday at the Community Arts Center Auditorium, 450 Reuther Mall, at Wayne State University.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100809/METRO/8090401/1263/rss08#ixzz0yDEiKSJ3