Don L. Doernberg

  • Professor of Law Emeritus


BA, Yale University
JD, Columbia University School of Law

Emeritus Professor Don L. Doernberg joined the Haub Law faculty in 1979. From 1984 to 1986, he was a visiting professor at University of California College of the Law, San Francisco, and Santa Clara University School of Law. Professor Doernberg then returned to Haub Law and taught through the spring 2016 semester, serving as James D. Hopkins Chair in Law during the 2001–2003 academic years. He took emeritus status on August 2, 2016. He now occasionally teaches Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, and Federal Courts as a “sometimes visiting” professor at University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. 

While at Haub Law, Professor Doernberg taught Civil Procedure, Conflict of Laws, Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure: Investigation, Federal Courts and Torts. Carolina Academic Press published his book Sovereign Immunity or the Rule of Law: The New Federalism's Choice in March, 2005. The sixth edition of his casebook Federal Courts--A Contemporary Approach was published in 2021 as part of West's Interactive Casebook Series and a seventh edition is on the way (with Professor McConville). More recently, he wrote the fifth edition of West's Federal Courts Nutshell (2021) and the sixth edition of West's Federal Courts Black Letter Outline (2021) (with Professor Freer) and A Short and Happy Guide to Conquering the MBE (2021) (with Cynthia A. Pope). He has also written Identity Crisis: Federal Courts in a Psychological Wilderness, published in 2001, and is co-editor of Civil Procedure Anthology (1998).

Professor Doernberg has written extensively concerning the subject matter jurisdiction of the federal courts, the law of standing, the propriety of the federal courts creating common law, and the historical and philosophical illegitimacy of the doctrines of sovereign immunity and official immunity in the United States. He has chaired the Association of American Law Schools' Section on Federal Courts and continues to serve as Secretary of the Section. He is a member of the American Law Institute. Before entering law teaching, Professor Doernberg taught seriously disturbed children for a year after law school and practiced law for nine years, first in private practice and then as Staff Attorney and Director of Special Litigation for the Criminal Defense Division of The Legal Aid Society in New York City.  He now serves as a member of the Nevada County (California) Civil Grand Jury.

Honors & Awards:
Gerard Goettel Prize for Faculty Scholarship, for Sovereign Immunity or the Rule of Law: The New Federalism’s Choice (Carolina Academic Press 2005), 2004-05
The Barbara Salken Outstanding Professor of the Year Award, 2010.




Black Letter Outline on Federal Courts, 4th ed. West, 2017. With Professors Martin H. Redish and Richard D. Freer

Federal Courts in a Nutshell, 5th ed. West, 2016. With Late Professor David P. Currie.


Federal Courts: A Contemporary Approach, Interactive Casebook Series, 5th ed. West, October 2013. With Professor Evan Tsen Lee. -- (supplemented annually)

Sovereign Immunity or the Rule of Law: The New Federalism's Choice. Carolina Academic Press, 2005.

Identity Crisis: Federal Courts in a Psychological Wilderness Carolina Academic Press, 2001.

Civil Procedure Anthology. With Professors David I. Levine and Melissa Nelken. Anderson Press, 1998.


"Resoling International Shoe, 2 Texas A&M L. Rev. 247 (2014)

"Horton the Elephant Interprets the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure: How the Federal Courts Sometimes Do and Always Should Understand Them," 42 Hofstra L. Rev. 799 (2014)

"Taking Supremacy Seriously: The Contrariety of Official Immunities," 80 Fordham L. Rev. 443 (2011).

"'The Tempest': Shady Grove Orthopedic Associates, P.A. v. Allstate Insurance Co.: The Rules Enabling Act Decision That Added to the Confusion—But Should Not Have," 44 Akron L. Rev. 1147 (2011)

"Sovereignty in the Age of Twitter," 55 Villanova L. Rev. 833 (2010).

"The Unseen Track of Erie Railroad: Why History and Jurisprudence Suggest a More Straightforward Form of Erie Analysis," 109 West Virginia L. Rev. 611 (2007).

"Can You Hear Me Now? Expectations of Privacy, False Friends, and the Perils of Speaking Under the Supreme Court's Fourth Amendment Jurisprudence," 39 Indiana L. Rev. 253 (2006).

"A Quiet Life of Service," 4 Books on Law No. 5 (May 2001), available at (also on file with the author) [reviewing Willis P. Whichard, Justice James Iredell (2000)].

"What's Wrong with this Picture? Rule Interpleader, the Anti-Injuction Act, In Personam Jurisdiction, and M.C. Escher," 67 University of Colorado L. Rev. 551 (1996).

"Juridical Chameleons in the 'New Erie' Canal," 1990 Utah L. Rev. 759 (1990).

"'You Can Lead a Horse to Water...': The Supreme Court's Refusal to Allow the Exercise of Original Jurisdiction Conferred by Congress," 40 Case W. Res. L. Rev. 999 (1990).

"History Comes Calling: Dean Griswold Offers New Evidence About the Jurisdictional Debate Surrounding the Enactment of the Declaratory Judgment Act," 37 U.C.L.A. L. Rev. 139 (1989) (with Professor Michael Mushlin).

"The Trojan Horse: How the Declaratory Judgment Act Created a Cause of Action and Expanded Federal Jurisdiction While the Supreme Court Wasn't Looking," 36 U.C.L.A. L. Rev. 529 (1989) (with Professor Michael Mushlin).

"There's No Reason for It; It's Just Our Policy: Why the Well-Pleaded Complaint Rule Sabotages the Purposes of Federal Question Jurisdiction," 38 Hastings L.J. 597 (1987).

"'We the People': John Locke, Collective Constitutional Rights, and Standing to Challenge Government Action," 73 California L. Rev. 52 (1985).

"'The Right of the People': Reconciling Collective and Individual Interests under the Fourth Amendment," 58 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 259 (1983).

"Pass in Review: Due Process and Judicial Scrutiny of Classification Decisions of the Selective Service System," 33 Hastings L.J. 871 (1982).

"Due Process Versus Data Processing: An Analysis of Computerized Criminal History Information Systems," 55 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 1110 (1980) (with Professor Donald H. Zeigler).