James Coleman is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina. He serves as a John S. Bradway Professor of the Practice of Law, Director of the Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility, and Co-Director of the Wrongful Convictions Clinic at Duke University Law School in Durham, North Carolina. In the mid-1960s, during his senior year of high school in still-segregated Charlotte, North Carolina, Mr. Coleman worked for prominent civil rights lawyer Julius Chambers. He described that as a pivotal experience to learn and understand Mr. Chambers' methods in the courtroom. Many people saw Julius Chambers' presence as fearful and commanding, but Mr. Coleman saw that he had the power and visibility to go into court and challenged the status quo. This same determination influenced Mr. Coleman's desire to take up that same fight by fighting for justice.
While in law school, Mr.Coleman worked full-time for the National Employment Law Project on employment discrimination cases. Additionally, Mr.Coleman has served on various state commissions focusing on wrongful convictions, death penalties, and criminal justice generally. While there, he developed into a lawyer by giving him such experiences as writing a section of the U.S. Supreme Court brief in his second year.
In 1996, Mr. Coleman joined the Duke faculty full-time, where his teaching responsibilities included cases involving criminal law and wrongful convictions. His administrative work for the University has included chairing the Lacrosse ad hoc Review Committee and the Duke Athletic Council. Mr.Coleman alongwith Erwin Chemerinsky founded the Appellate Litigation Clinic that enables students to develop litigation skills by working on federal appeals. His academic work, conducted through the Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility, centers on the legal, political, and scientific causes of wrongful convictions and how to prevent them. Mr. Coleman has helped many people by advocating for them in various trials. As a result of his work, I believe that Mr.Coleman has truly influenced others in achieving their educational goals with his continuous efforts to teach the next generation.
Written By: Ariana Anderson, Victory Christian HS