As founding co-director of Partners in Justice International, Dr. Roberts centers her practice on providing respectful support to local practitioners seeking accountability for grave crimes in their own countries’ courts.
Dr. L. Kathleen Roberts has represented victims and survivors of human rights violations and international atrocity crimes in court for almost two decades. She has extensive trial experience. She has led or supervised investigation of grave crimes cases from twelve countries spanning five continents. Representing the victims, she led trial teams to victory in Yousuf v. Samantar, Ahmed v. Magan, Jara v. Barrientos, and Warfaa v. Ali. Her work on behalf of Somali victims has been covered widely in the United States and Africa, including by ABC’s 20/20, CNN Investigations. It is also the subject of a feature-length documentary Somaliland: Kill All but the Crows, of Al Jazeera’s People and Power series. Her work on behalf of the family of slain Chilean folksinger Víctor Jara was covered extensively in the United States and Chile, and was the subject of two hour-long specials: Anhelada Justicia of Chilevision’s En La Mira, and Massacre at the Stadium of Netflix original series Remastered.
Dr. Roberts has assisted local practitioners in international crimes investigations and prosecutions in Colombia, Chile, Guatemala, Kenya, Kosovo, the Republic of Korea (for DPRK), and Tunisia. Her specialties include universal jurisdiction, foreign official immunity, and litigating international crimes in national courts, including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, and conflict-related sexual violence.
Dr. Roberts is core faculty at the Institute for International Criminal Investigations and served for several years as an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco, where she taught a number of post-graduate level courses involving international human rights law. She has lectured extensively on human rights, international criminal law, victim representation, and transnational litigation.
She is an attorney admitted to practice in California.
- International criminal law and customary international law, including norms relating to sexual and gender-based violence, torture, genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, universal jurisdiction, and foreign official immunity.
- International criminal investigations, including for conflict-related sexual violence crimes.
- Victim representation in adjudicating human rights violations and international crimes, especially in domestic courts.
- Courtroom advocacy, including motion and trial practice in California, Florida, Virginia and Ohio.
- Drafting appellate and trial court pleadings, including merits and amicus curiae briefs to the U. S. Supreme Court, appellate briefings at the Fourth, Fifth, and Eleventh Circuits and dispositive and discovery motions in federal district courts in California, Florida, Virginia and Ohio.
- Discovery management, including taking, defending, and participating in depositions and remote trial testimony in California, Virginia, Djibouti, and Chile.
- Investigation, Litigation, Accompaniment. Led the trial team for the Center for Justice & Accountability in Jara v. Barrientos, including investigation, remote testimony, courtroom advocacy, coordination with Chilean prosecutors and investigators, as well as coordination advisory support and advocacy regarding extradition.
- Investigation, Litigation, Accompaniment. Led and subsequently supervised litigation for the Center for Justice & Accountability in Jiménez v. Naranjo (Macaco). Provided advisory mentoring to victim lawyers and CSOs investigating cases to be presented before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace.
- Accompaniment. Multiple deployments to provide advisory mentoring to victim lawyers and organizations working on cases involving war crimes, including sexual violence crimes targeting men and boys (or persons assigned male at birth), in Colombia.
- Accompaniment. Multiple deployments to Guatemala with multiple organizations to provide advisory mentoring to prosecutors and analysts in the Internal Armed Conflict unit (CAI; for its initials in Spanish), along with relevant victim lawyers, in relation to specific cases involving war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, including sexual violence crimes.
- Accompaniment. Multiple deployments to Kenya with UN OHCHR to provide training and advisory mentoring to prosecutors, investigators, and victim lawyers in relation to specific cases involving crimes against humanity, including those involving sexual violence.
- Accompaniment. Multiple deployments to Kosovo with UN Women to provide advisory mentoring to prosecutors, investigators, and victim lawyers in relation to specific cases involving war crimes, crimes against humanity, including those involving sexual violence.
- Investigation and Litigation. Led the investigation and supervised the case filing of Doe v. Thomas for the Center for Justice & Accountability.
- Investigation, Litigation, Capacity Building. Led trial teams, including pre-trial investigation, taking remote testimony and courtroom advocacy in Yousuf v. Samantar, Ahmed v. Magan, and Warfaa v. Ali for the Center for Justice & Accountability. Facilitated the establishment of forensic anthropology training program with the Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team for the Somaliland War Crimes Investigation Unit.
- Accompaniment. Multiple deployments to Tunisia with UN Women to provide advisory mentoring to investigators for Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission in relation to specific cases involving war crimes, crimes against humanity, including those involving sexual violence.
- United States
- Investigation and Litigation. Led the investigation and supervised the case filing and courtroom advocacy in Reisner v. Leso for the Center for Justice & Accountability.
Supervised investigation and/or litigation on cases related to Cambodia, Haiti, Peru, and Syria. Additional confidential accompaniment and investigations led or supervised in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the United States, and the MENA region.
- University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, J.D., 2004
- University of Illinois, Urbana, Ph.D., philosophy, 2001
- University of Illinois, Urbana, M.A., philosophy, 1997
- University of Tenn., Knoxville, B.A., English, philosophy, 1992
- State Bar of California, 233481 (December 3, 2004)
- United States District Court for the Central District of California (January 31, 2008)
- United States District Court for the Northern District of California (June 11, 2008)
- United States District Court for the Southern District of California (June 18, 2008)
- United States District Court for the Eastern District of California (June 17, 2008)
- United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (October 25, 2016)
- United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (May 2, 2018)
- United States Supreme Court (January 25, 2010)
- English: Native Fluency (mother tongue)
- Spanish (very high proficiency)
- Roberts and Maxine Marcus, Prosecuting Forced Marriage as a Form of Sexual Violence, summary and comment on the prosecution of forced marriage in Case 002/02 at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, in [Un]Forgotten: Annual report on the prosecution of sexual violence as an international crime 2019, TRIAL, April 30, 2019.
- Nushin Sarkarati and Roberts, The Importance of Mass Trauma Evidence in Accountability before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, in CAMBODIA’S HIDDEN SCARS: TRAUMA PSYCHOLOGY AND THE EXTRAORDINARY CHAMBERS OF THE COURTS OF CAMBODIA, 2d ed. (Spring, 2016).
- Roberts, The Long Road to Justice, Part 2, JOURNAL OF THE ANGLO-SOMALI SOCIETY, Issue No. 54 Autumn 2013.
- Roberts, Yousuf v. Samantar: The Long Road to Justice, JOURNAL OF THE ANGLO-SOMALI SOCIETY, Issue No. 53, Spring 2013.
- Roberts, 4th Circuit Again Denies Immunity in Samantar, INTLAWGRRLS.COM, November 6, 2012.
- Dr. Steven Reisner and Roberts, Will There Be Accountability? Medical Professionals Who Torture, COUNTERPUNCH, September 21-23, 2012.
- Roberts, One Guantánamo Hearing That Did Take Place in New York, INTLAWGRRLS.COM, April 11, 2011.
- Roberts, Correcting Culture: Extraterritoriality and U.S. Employment Discrimination Law, Hofstra Journal of Employment and Labor Law, Volume 24, 2007.
- Roberts, Note: The United States and the World: Changing Approaches to Human Rights Diplomacy Under the Bush Administration 2001 – 2003, Berkeley Journal of International Law, Volume 21, Number 3, 2003.
- Roberts, Book Review: Sweatshop Warriors: Immigrant Women Workers Take on the Global Factory by Miriam Ching Yoon Louie, Berkeley Women’s Law Journal, Volume 17, 2002.