Chapel Hill, North Carolina
“Michael Tigar's tireless striving for justice stretches his arms toward perfection.”
William Brennan, Jr.
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 1956-90
In 1999, the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice held a ballot for Lawyer of the Century. Michael Tigar was third in the balloting, behind Clarence Darrow and Thurgood Marshall.
Tigar is Emeritus Professor of the Practice of Law at Duke University Law School and Professor Emeritus at American University’s Washington College of Law. He also held full-time academic positions at UCLA and the University of Texas. He is a 1966 graduate of Boalt Hall, University of California, Berkeley, where he was first in his class, law review editor-in-chief and Order of the Coif.
Tigar has litigated in 23 states and several foreign countries, argued more than 100 federal appeals, and argued seven cases in the U.S. Supreme Court.
A prolific writer, Tigar has authored or co-authored 13 books, three plays and scores of articles and essays including:
• Mythologies of State and Monopoly Power,
• Nine Principles of Litigation,
• Thinking About Terrorism,
• Fighting Injustice (his memoir),
• Examining Witnesses and
The Michael Tigar Papers, an event at the University of Texas at Austin in 2018 honored Michael’s work and his works including discussions of his major cases by such figures as Fernando Chavez, Jeremy Corbyn and Patrick Higginbotham as well as two scenes from his play “Haymarket: Whose Name the Few Still Say with Tears” .
Mr. Tigar’s clients have included Angela Davis, H. Rap Brown, John Connally, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, The Washington Post, Fantasy Films, Terry Nichols, Allen Ginsberg, Leonard Peltier, Fernando Chavez and Lynne Stewart. He is a past chair of the 60,000 member American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation and a past chair of the Board of Directors of the Texas Resource Center for Capital Litigation.
In his teaching, he has worked with law students in clinical programs where students are counsel or law clerks in significant human rights litigation. To commemorate the founding of Santa Clara law school, Tigar and his colleagues reenacted the 1911 trial of Clarence Darrow for bribing jurors in Los Angeles. He has made several trips to South Africa, working with organizations of African lawyers engaged in the struggle to end apartheid, and after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, to lecture on human rights issues and to advise the African National Congress on issues in drafting a new constitution. Tigar has been actively involved in efforts to bring to justice members of the Chilean junta, including former President Pinochet.
In 2003, the Texas Civil Rights Project named its new building in Austin, Texas, (purchased with a gift from attorney Wayne Reaud) the “Michael Tigar Human Rights Center.”