Douglas Colbert

Professor of Law




(410) 706-0683



Photo of Douglas Colbert


  • AB, 1968, SUNY at Buffalo
  • JD, 1972, Rutgers (Newark) Law School


Doug Colbert joined the Maryland Carey Law faculty in 1994 after directing the criminal justice clinic and teaching civil rights at Hofstra Law School and visiting at Northeastern and Utah Law Schools where he taught Evidence and Lawyering Skills courses. Having taught the Access to Justice criminal defense clinic for many years, Professor Colbert currently teaches Criminal Procedure II and the Race seminar in the fall semester, and Legal Profession in the spring. He has written extensively in the areas of criminal law, constitutional law, lawyers’ ethical responsibilities, and police misconduct. Professor Colbert’s favorite three law review articles focused on politically sensitive trials (Stanford), the Thirteenth Amendment and the badge of racial exclusion (Cornell) and most recently, bail reform and structural racism at the pretrial stage (Maryland).

Professor Colbert currently testifies as an expert witness in class action lawsuits in state and federal courts on behalf of parties seeking fundamental change in pretrial justice and guarantees of indigent defendants’ right to counsel. He also testifies before Maryland legislative committees on various criminal law issues. As the founder and director of the Lawyers at Bail Project, Professor Colbert’s lawyers represented 4,000 indigent defendants at bail hearings. Prior to entering the academy, Professor Colbert served as a senior trial attorney in the NYC Legal Aid Society’s criminal defense division for 11 years and acted as lead counsel in the Naponoch prison rebellion at Eastern Correctional Facility in upstate New York.

Professor Colbert regularly contributes opinion articles and engages as a media commentator about many criminal justice issues. For nearly two decades, he served as a board member of the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT), on the board of directors of the Public Justice Center, and on the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys Association (MCDAA) where he remains currently. He is a past chair of the Maryland State Bar Association’s Section on Correctional Reform.

Book Chapters

It’s Not Funny: Creating a Professional Culture of Pro Bono Commitment, in Vulnerable Populations, Economic Realities (2010). Abstract


A Butterfly in COVID: Structural Racism and Baltimore's Pretrial Legal System, 82 Maryland Law Review 1 (2022) (with Colin Starger). Abstract

"With a Little Help from My Friends": Counsel at Bail and Enhanced Pretrial Justice Becomes the New Reality, 55 Wake Forest Law Review 795 (2020).

Prosecuting Baltimore Police Officers, 16 University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender & Class 185 (2016). Abstract

The Maryland Access to Justice Story: Indigent Defendants' Right to Counsel at First Appearance, 15 University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class 1 (2015). Abstract

Clinical Professors' Professional Responsibility: Preparing Law Students to Embrace Pro Bono, 18 Georgetown Journal of Poverty Law & Policy 309 (2011). Abstract

Prosecution Without Representation, 59 Buffalo Law Review 333 (2011). Abstract

Professional Responsibility in Crisis, 51 Howard Law Journal 677 (2008). Abstract

Coming Soon to a Court Near You--Convicting the Unrepresented at the Bail Stage: An Autopsy of a High Court's Sua Sponte Rejection of Indigent Defendants' Right to Counsel, 36 Seton Hall Law Review 653 (2006). Abstract

Connecting Theory and Reality: Teaching Gideon and Indigent Defendants' Non-Right to Counsel at Bail, 4 Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 1 (2006). Abstract

Broadening Scholarship: Embracing Law Reform and Justice, 52 Journal of Legal Education 540 (2003). Abstract

Do Attorneys Really Matter? The Empirical and Legal Case for the Right to Counsel at Bail, 23 Cardozo Law Review 1721 (2002) (with others). Abstract

Thirty-Five Years After Gideon: The Illusory Right to Counsel at Bail Proceedings, 1998 University of Illinois Law Review 1. Abstract

Ethical Decisionmaking and Ethics Instruction in Clinical Law Practice, 3 Clinical Law Review 109 (1996) (with others). Abstract

Affirming the Thirteenth Amendment, 1995 Annual Survey of American Law 403. Abstract

Liberating the Thirteenth Amendment, 30 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 1 (1995) Abstract

Bifurcation of Civil Rights Defendants: Undermining Monell in Police Brutality Cases, 44 Hastings Law Journal 499 (1993). Abstract

Challenging the Challenge: Thirteenth Amendment as a Prohibition Against the Racial Use of Peremptory Challenges, 76 Cornell Law Review 1 (1990). Abstract

The Motion in Limine in Politically Sensitive Cases: Silencing the Defendant at Trial, 39 Stanford Law Review 1271 (1987). Abstract

The Motion in Limine: Trial Without Jury; A Government's Weapon Against the Sanctuary Movement, 15 Hofstra Law Review 5 (1986). Abstract