Susan Rutberg

Professor of Law at Golden Gate University in San Francisco

Susan Rutberg is Professor of Law at Golden Gate University in San Francisco where she directs the school’s clinical programs. Her courses include Criminal Litigation Clinic, Trial Advocacy and Wrongful Convictions.

A 1971 Cornell University graduate, Rutberg received her J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law in 1975. While awaiting Bar results she volunteered with the People’s Law Office in Chicago, where she assisted in sifting through just-released FBI documents in conjunction with the civil rights law suit filed on behalf of the families of slain Black Panther Party members Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, and the survivors of the police raid that caused their deaths.

For several years, before beginning to teach fulltime, Rutberg represented indigent criminal defendants in public defense agencies, starting with the Bayview-Hunters Point Community Defender’s Office in San Francisco. In 1986, she served as co-counsel in the successful defense of attorney Stephen Bingham, who was charged with murder and conspiracy. The government alleged that, during an attorney-client visit in August 1971, Bingham smuggled a gun to a San Quentin prisoner, Black Panther Party leader, George Jackson. Mr. Jackson tried to escape and in the ensuing uprising three prison guards, two prisoners, and Mr. Jackson were killed. Bingham remained underground until 1985. He was acquitted of all charges in June, 1986.

Before coming to Golden Gate in 1991, Rutberg ran criminal defense clinics at the law schools of the University of San Francisco, Santa Clara University and the City University of New York (CUNY). In 2002 she spent six months in the Czech Republic, as a Fulbright scholar at the Charles University School of Law in Prague. From 2002 to 2006, Rutberg ran an Innocence Project at Golden Gate. With Attorney Janice Brickley and a team of students, Rutberg represented Peter J. Rose, winning his release from prison in late 2004 and his complete exoneration in 2005. Before new evidence resulting from DNA testing conclusively proved his innocence, Mr. Rose served nearly 10 years of a 27- year prison sentence for kidnap and rape of a child. Rutberg wrote an article about the case: Anatomy of a Miscarriage of Justice: The Wrongful Conviction of Peter J. Rose, 37 Golden Gate University Law Review 7 (2006).

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