Jason Gillmer is a Professor of Law and the inaugural holder of the John J. Hemmingson Chair in Civil Liberties. He is also the Director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Before Gonzaga, Professor Gillmer was on the faculty at Texas A&M Law School (formerly Texas Wesleyan). He has also taught at American University, Washington College of Law as visiting professor. He began his academic career as a teaching fellow at Stanford Law School.
Professor Gillmer is a legal historian with a particular interest in the antebellum South, the conquest of the American West, and the Civil Rights era. Drawing on a number of legal and historical sources, Professor Gillmer focuses on how the law functioned in everyday life, and his current work emphasizes the importance of local records and trial-level data in understanding history and its contours. Professor Gillmer is the author of multiple law review articles, essays, and book chapters, and he has published in such places as the Southern California Law Review, the Alabama Law Review, and the North Carolina Law Review (twice). His book, Slavery and Freedom in Texas: Stories from the Courtroom, 1821-1871 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2017), was a finalist in the 2017 Ramirez Family Award for Most Significant Scholarly Book, Texas Institute of Letters. He also received the “Top Paper” award for his article, “Base Wretches and Black Wenches: A Story of Sex and Race, Violence and Compassion, During Slavery Times,” 59 Alabama Law Review 1501 (2008), in the 2008 Southeastern Association of Law Schools’ Call for Papers Competition.
In his role as the Director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights, Professor Gillmer works to effectuate the Law School’s ambition to create a nationally-recognized civil and human rights program that enriches the educational experience of students, furthers the common good, and contributes substantially to the policy and practice of civil and human rights.
Professor Gillmer teaches in the areas of Constitutional Law, Civil Rights, Torts, and Race and the Law. He is a seven-time recipient of his school’s “professor of the year” award. Among his many professional activities, Professor Gillmer is a Commission Member of the Washington Supreme Court Minority and Justice Commission and a member of the WSBA’s Council on Public Defense.
Prior to teaching, Professor Gillmer clerked on the District Court of Minnesota and on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He also was an associate in the law firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller, and Ciresi, where he helped represent the State of Minnesota in its landmark suit against the tobacco industry to recover the health costs associated with treating smoking-related illnesses.
Professor Gillmer has a LL.M. from Harvard Law School, a J.D. from American University Washington College of Law, and a B.A. in history from Carleton College.
Slavery and Freedom in Texas: Stories from the Courtroom, 1821-1871 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2017). (Finalist for the Ramirez Family Award for Most Significant Scholarly Book, Texas Institute of Letters, 2017).
Law Reviews, Essays, and Book Chapters
“In re Perkins: Fugitive Slaves and Freedom Suits during the California Gold Rush” (work-in-progress).
“The Life of the Law,” in Teaching Legal History: Comparative Perspectives (Wildy, Simmonds & Hill) (2014).
“Boston Strong: Understanding Hatred, Confronting Intolerance, Eliminating Inequality,” 49 Gonzaga Law Review ix (2013/14) (symposium introduction) (conference organizer).
“Telling Stories of Love, Sex, and Race,” in Loving In A Post-Racial World: New Legal Approaches to Interracial Marriages and Relationships (Kevin Noble Maillard & Rose Cuison Villazor eds., 2012).
“Crimes of Passion: The Regulation of Interracial Sex in Washington, 1855-1950,” 47 Gonzaga law Review 393 (2012) (symposium contribution) (conference organizer)
“Shades of Gray: The Life and Times of a Free Family of Color on the Texas Frontier,” 29 Minnesota Journal of Law & Inequality 33 (2011).
“Lawyers and Slaves: A Remarkable Case of Representation from the Antebellum South,” 1 University of Miami Race & Social Justice Law Review 47 (2011) (symposium contribution).
“Race, Blood, and What the Alligator Knows: A Review of What Blood Won’t Tell,” 83 Southern California Law Review 425 (2010) (symposium contribution).
“Base Wretches and Black Wenches: A Story of Sex and Race, Violence and Compassion, During Slavery Times,” 59 Alabama Law Review 1501 (2008) (“Top Paper” award in 2008 Southeastern Association of Law Schools’ Call for Papers Competition).
“Poor Whites, Benevolent Masters, and the Ideologies of Slavery: The Local Trial of a Slave Accused of Rape,” 85 North Carolina Law Review 489 (2007).
“Suing for Freedom: Interracial Sex, Slave Law, and Racial Identity in the Post-Revolutionary and Antebellum South,” 82 North Carolina Law Review 535 (2004).
“The Weeping Time: Memory and the Largest Slave Auction in American History,” by Anne C. Bailey, __ Journal of Southern History __ (forthcoming 2018) (book review).
“Slavery and the Supreme Court, 1825-1861,” by Earl Maltz, 52 American Journal of Legal History 411 (2012) (book review).
“Edmund J. Davis of Texas: Civil War General, Republican Leader, Reconstruction Governor,” by Carl H. Moneyhon, 77 Journal of Southern History 735 (2011) (book review).
“Law and Society in the South: A History of North Carolina Court Cases,” by John W. Wertheimer 25 Continuity and Change: A Journal of Social Structure, Law and Demography 468 (Cambridge University Press 2010) (book review).
“What Blood Won’t Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America,” by Ariela Gross, 28 Law & History Review 1087 (2010) (book review).
“Jim Crow Moves North: The Battle over Northern School Segregation, 1865-1954,” by Davison M. Douglas, 27 Law & History Review 476 (2009) (book review).
Presenter, Lawyers and Slaves on Galveston Island, Faculty Colloquium, Southern Methodist University School of Law, Dallas, TX (Nov. 2017).
Presenter, Lawyers and Slaves on Galveston Island, Dallas Bar Association, Dallas, TX (Oct. 2017).
Presenter, The Importance of Jury Diversity, Washington Judicial Conference, Spokane, WA (Sept. 2016).
Presenter, Lawyers and Slaves on Galveston Island, Faculty Colloquium, Seattle University School of Law, Seattle, WA (March 2016).
Presenter, Slavery and Freedom in Texas, Circum-Atlantic Studies Seminar, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN (Jan. 2016).
Presenter, Accessing Justice in Antebellum Texas, Conference on Access to Justice, Texas A&M School of Law, Fort Worth, TX (May 2015).
Presenter, Lawyers and Slaves on Galveston Island, Faculty Colloquium, Lewis & Clark Law School, Portland, OR (Feb. 2015).
Presenter, Resistance and Rebellion: Perspectives from the Courtroom in Antebellum Texas, Annual Meeting, The Law and Society Association, Minneapolis, MN (May 2014).
Presenter, “Nothing But an Exclusion Order”: Japanese Internment and the Law of Discrimination, Jundt Art Museum, Ansel Adams Exhibit, Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA (Feb. 2014).
Panelist, The Civil Rights Act of 1964: Implications Then and Now, Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA (Feb. 2014).
Presenter, Resistance and Rebellion: Perspectives from the Courtroom in Antebellum Texas, Faculty Colloquium, UC Davis School of Law, Davis, CA (Oct. 2013).
Presenter, Resistance and Rebellion: Perspectives from the Courtroom in Antebellum Texas, Faculty Colloquium, Texas A&M School of Law, Fort Worth, TX (Oct. 2013).
Film Discussant, Mr. Cao Goes to Washington, Conference on The Pursuit of Justice, Gonzaga University School of Law, Spokane, WA (Apr. 2013).
Presenter, Crimes of Passion, Annual Meeting, The Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities, Fort Worth, TX (Mar. 2012).
Keynote Address, Telling Stories of Love and Race, Diversity Services, California Western School of Law, San Diego, CA (Nov. 2011).
Presenter, Crimes of Passion, Conference on Race and Criminal Justice, Gonzaga University School of Law, Spokane, WA (Sept. 2011).
Presenter, Lawyers and Slaves, Annual Meeting, The Law and Society Association, San Francisco, CA (June 2011).
Keynote Address, Race and Crime: Historical Narratives, 6th Annual Statewide Diversity Conference, Washington Minority Bar Associations, Seattle, WA (May 2011).
Plenary Panel, So, Do People of Color Really Commit More Crimes?, Task Force on Race and the Criminal Justice System, Washington Superior Court Judges’ Spring Conference, Cle Elum, WA (May 2011).
Presenter, Preliminary Report on Race and Washington’s Criminal Justice System, Task Force on Race and the Criminal Justice System, Washington Supreme Court, Olympia, WA (Mar. 2011).
Presenter, “Her champion and her friend:” Lawyers, Slaves, and the Politics of Freedom in Galveston County, Texas, Dallas Bar Association, Dallas, TX (Feb. 2011).
Presenter, Slave Lawyers, LatCrit XV, Annual LatCrit Conference, Denver, CO (Oct. 2010).
Presenter, The Intriguing Tale of John and Sobrina: A True Story of a Slave Owner and a Slave Who Became His Wife, Annual Meeting, Texas State Historical Association, Dallas, TX (Mar. 2010).
Presenter, Freedom in a Slave Country, Black History Month Speaker Series, Tarrant County Community College, Hurst, TX (Feb. 2010).