Robert R. Bryan

Selected events

Mar. 27, 2019  Filed Appellant's Reply Brief which further developed arguments regarding juror misconduct, prosecution racism in jury selection, perjured testimony against Mr. Ervin, & failure of defense to present a viable defense. Ervin v. Davis, U.S. Court of Appeals (9th. Cir.) No. 16-99010 (ECF 63). 

Aug. 26, 2018 Filed 118-page Opening Brief raising issues of abuse by prosecution, racism, ineffectiveness of defense counsel. Ervin v. Davis, U.S. Court of Appeals (9th. Cir.) No. 16-99010 (ECF 44). 

Feb. 22, 2018 Order granting review of issues of prosecutorial abuse, racism. Order, Ervin v. Davis, U.S. Court of Appeals (9th. Cir.) No. 16-99010 (ECF 33).

Feb. 18, 2018 French TV is introducing a new film regarding the denial of a fair trial to Keith Doolin and his innocence. "California Death-Row Inmate's Story of Innocence Will Be Shown In An Unlikely Place," Fresno Bee.;(see also "San Quentin Death Row Inmate Featured On French TV, Marin Independent Journal," Feb. 18, 2018.

July 10, 2017 Reply To Opposition relating to racism, etc. Ervin v. Davis (ECF 32), U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. 

Dec. 3, 2016 We filed a 197-page Motion for Certificate of Appealability in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Ervin v. Davis, No. 16-99010 (ECF 13). This capital case has strong constitutional issues, e.g., ineffective assistance of trial counsel, jury error, prosecutorial misconduct.

Nov. 16, 2016  This is a piece published in Europe concerning a documentary film being developed on the innocence of Keith Z. Doolin, a death-row client.

Oct. 27, 2016 Filed an unusual motion in Doolin v. Davis, U.S. Dist. Ct. (E.D. Cal.) No. 1:09-CV-01353 (ECF 187), seeking evidence of innocence (Motion for Order Permitting Former Counsel for Josefina Saldana, Deceased, To (1) Disclose To Petitioner’s Attorneys the Information In His Possession Bearing On Their Client’s Innocence, and (2) Be Deposed). 

March 25, 2016 An article regarding the innocence of one of our clients, Keith Z. Doolin, is in the Fresno Bee: "Fresno Lawyer's Secret Could Lead To New Trial for Death Row Inmate." Pamala Sayasane, co-counsel, & I have discovered evidence of his innocence. This issue is now pending before the California Supreme Court.

June 9, 2015 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reversed the death penalty in the case of Terry D. Bemore whom I have represented since 1998. He languished on death row for 26 years because of the failings of his lawyers at the San Diego trial. That included a false defense concocted by one of the attorneys & a poor investigation. This was a great victory. Bemore v. Chappell, ___ F.3d ___, 2015 WL 3559153 (June 9, 2015).

Jan. 20, 2015 Press conference, Kamenz, Germany, on the presentation of the book Das Jahrhundertverbrechen: Die Entführung des Lindbergh-Babys. It contains the death-row memoir of Richard Hauptmann: Mutter, Ich Bin Unschuldig! (Mother, I Am Innocent). He was executed in 1936 in New Jersey for the Lindbergh kidnap-murder. I wrote a lengthy contribution to the book regarding his innocence, having uncovered over 100,000 pages of exculpatory evidence suppressed by the NJ State Police & FBI. I represented Anna Hauptmann, Mr. Hauptmann's widow, for the last 15 years of her life, in federal & state litigation in New Jersey. Officials knew Mr. Hauptmann was innocent when they put him in the electric chair.

Sept. 10, 2014 Bemore v. Chappell, No. 12-99005 (death penalty) - My associate, Cheryl J. Cotterill, & I presented oral argument in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, San Francisco. The issues include the fraud of trial counsel, presenting a false defense, & failure to investigate & present evidence of the client's debilitating mental illness. The video is at

Aug. 4, 2014 People v. Carrasco, 59 Cal.4th 924 (2014) (death penalty) - In this double-homicide case that originated in Los Angeles, the California Supreme Court reversed two special circumstances but let the convictions stand.  The related habeas corpus petition in litigation concerns the client's innocence.

May 29, 2014 People v. Carrasco, 59 Cal.4th 924 (2014) (death penalty) - My associate, Cheryl J. Cotterill, & I presented oral argument in the California Supreme Court. The evidence we have developed establishes that our client is innocent.

Jan. 22, 2014 ABC TV News.

Jan. 30, 2013 The Recorder newspaper re judicial misconduct.

Jan. 10, 2013 Killer's Wish Led To Landmark Ruling, San Francisco Chronicle.

Sept. 24, 2012 Death Row Inmates Oppose Prop. 34

Aug. 27, 2012 In re Bacigalupo, 55 Cal.4th 312, 283 P.3d 613 (death penalty) - This reversal by the California Supreme Court concerned a prosecutor & DA investigator who lied to the court & jury. As a consequence of their wrongdoing, the defendant spent over 25 years on death row. I established through an extensive investigation that evidence was concealed which would have changed the outcome of the trial. The prosecutor later became a judge based in part on the fraud she & her investigator committed in the case. Ex-Prosecutor, Now Judge, Hid Evidence

Jan. 2012 Berlin GermanyCuba Si (Cuba 5) video interview during annual Rosa Luxemburg memorial (2011).

Jan. 9-12, 2012 Kamenz (near Dresden), Germany - TV interview, speeches, & meetings, with Nicole Gibier Bryan, on the 1935 Trial of the Century & 1936 execution of Richard Hauptmann. A book is being written.

Dec. 8, 2011 Berlin, Germany - Speech on death penalty, Junge Welt newspaper.

Oct. 24, 2011 Berlin, Germany - Speech by Nicole Bryan on human rights.

Sept. 6, 2011 Leonard Peltier given human-rights award.

Aug. 2011 Book release, The Grace of Everyday Saints, featuring Robert R. Bryan.;

July 7, 2011 Native News Network - "Leonard Peltier In 'the Hole' at Lewisburg Prison."

June 12, 2011 Reims, France - Speech, Human Rights League Congress, joined by Geo. Aguilar, Amer. Indian actor (Paris).

May 24-28, 2011 Berlin, Germany - Meetings & speeches for Leonard Peltier, AIM, joined by Nicole Bryan, Int'l Legal Liaison.

May 11, 2011 AIM-West, Oakland - Speech on Leonard Peltier.

April 30, 2011 Paris - Speech on behalf of Leonard Peltier.

April 26, 2011 Abu-Jamal's death penalty reversed - The brief Bryan filed July 28, 2010 as then-lead counsel in the U.S. Court of Appeals, Philadelphia, established that the trial judge unconstitutionally instructed the jury.

April 3, 2011 Lewisburg, PA - Bryan named lead counsel for Leonard Peltier, the AIM activist who has been imprisoned 35 years for the killing of two FBI agents, Pine Ridge Reservation, So. Dakota.

Feb. 7, 2011 Private meeting on human rights & the death penalty with Markus Löning, German Commissioner for Human Rights, Peter Rothen, Consul General, & associate Nicole Bryan; attended a reception in the Consul General residence.

Jan. 25, 2011 Univ. of Calif. at Davis School of Law - Speech on the death penalty.

Jan. 8, 2011 Rosa Luxemburg Conf., Berlin - Speech on the death penalty & the need for all to work together to free political prisoners, citing the words of Bertolt Brecht.

Oct. 22, 2010 Int'l Conf. for the Defense & Struggle for Political Prisoners, Copenhagen - Speech & meetings with Nicole Bryan.

Oct. 21, 2010 Int'l Bar Ass'n, Human Rights Institute, London - Roundtable discussion on the death penalty & racial discrimination in the U.S. 

Oct. 6, 2010 European Parliament, Brussels - Bryan, Sabine Kebir, German author & PEN member, Barbara Lochbihler, MP (Germany), & Amnesty Int'l in debate sponsored by Heinrich Böll-Stiftung ("What role the EU should play in the fight against the death penalty?"). Bryan gave an afternoon speech before a Plenary Session of Parliament, European United Left/Nordic Green Left, & TV interviews with MPs Sabine Lösing (Germany) & Ms. Lochbihler in appeals for Parliament to vote against death penalty.

Oct. 5, 2010 European Parliament, Brussels - Showing of the award-winning movie "In Prison My Whole Life" with discussion by Bryan & Sabine Lösing, Member of Parliament (Germany).

June 10, 2010 Karibu Education Centre, London - Press conference on racism & campaign to end executions.

Mar. 2, 2010 European Parliament, Brussels - Parliament members Søren Søndergaard (Denmark) & Sabine Lösing (Germany) announced a campaign to end executions. They were joined by Sabine Kebir, German author & PEN member, Nicole Bryan, & Bryan.

Feb. 24-26, 2010 World Congress Against the Death Penalty, Geneva - During a panel discussion spoke of racism in capital cases. On the final night Mumia Abu-Jamal made a surprise call to Bryan & spoke on behalf of the 20,000 men, women & children on death rows globally.

Feb. 23, 2010 Int'l Film Festival & Forum on Human Rights, Geneva - Following the showing of "Manners of Dying", Bryan talked about the importance of films in fight for human rights & against death penalty.

Jan. 9, 2010 Rosa Luxemburg Conf., Berlin - Speech on human-rights abuses around the world & announced the launching of petition Mumia Abu-Jamal and the Global Abolition of the Death Penalty.

Profiles - Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan

Robert R. Bryan

Robert Bryan specializes globally in human-rights litigation with an emphasis on defending people facing the death penalty. In 2008 he received the Bronze Medal from the City of Lyon, France for his work against executions and in 2007 was honored with the Civil Rights Courage Award. Bryan is featured in the book The Grace of Everyday Saints (2011 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing) by Julian Guthrie, San Francisco Chronicle.

He has litigated numerous murder cases, and is a member of the bars of California, New York, Alabama, various federal courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Bryan served on the Steering Committee, World Coalition To Abolish the Death Penalty, Paris, a member of PEN, the global human-rights organization for writers, and was formerly Chair and a Board member of the Washington-based National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Bryan’s first murder case resulted in a jury acquittal in Alabama when the lawyer was 26. He represented the late Anna Hauptmann for the last 15 years of her life. She was the widow of Bruno Richard Hauptmann, also a German immigrant, who was executed in 1936 in New Jersey for the kidnap-murder of Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. Bryan uncovered evidence establishing that the authorities knowingly prosecuted an innocent man and that the Trial of the Century was one of the greatest frauds in American legal history. Bryan, The Execution of the Innocent: The Tragedy of the Hauptmann-Lindbergh and Bigelow Cases, 18 N.Y.U. Rev. L. and Soc. Change 831 (1991). His findings became the subject of books and a movie. Most recently he wrote a significant part of the 2015 German book Das Jahrhundertverbrechen: Die Entführung des Lindbergh-BabysIt (The Crime of the Century: the Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping) which contains the death-row memoir of Richard Hauptmann: Mutter, Ich Bin Unschuldig! (Mother, I Am Innocent). Bryan is writing a book on the Hauptmanns and the case.

For 10 years Bryan was lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal who is now off Pennsylvania’s death row. The briefs Bryan filed resulted in reversal of the death penalty in 2011, having previously won the case in Abu-Jamal v. Horn, 520 F.3d 272 (2008). Bryan represented Leonard Peltier, the American Indian activist wronglfully imprisoned for the 1975 murder of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Earlier Bryan cleared Jimmy Eagle who was the initial person indicted for the killings. He has represented other Indian activists including Gladys Bissonette, one of the tribal leaders in the 1973 Wounded Knee occupation. He won a reversal for the only Peruvian on death row (In re Bacigalupo, 55 Cal.4th 312 (2012)), and for years was lead counsel for the only Iranian citizen facing execution in America. He was lead counsel in a case reversal in which the trial lawyer was proven ineffective for not investigating and presenting an available defense. (Bemore v. Chappell, 788 F.3d 1151 (9th Cir. 2015).)

The activities of Bryan have also included: Chopin Foundation, Board (2004-present); Third Degree Freemason, Phoenix Lodge No. 144 F&AM (Board of Trustees); 32nd degree Scottish Rite; elected Fellow, Amer. Board of Criminal Lawyers (1979); Coalition of Concerned Legal Professionals, Board (2000-present); Lycée Français La Pérouse, Board (1997-98); No. California Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Board and Chair (1985-92).

Bryan's daughter, Auda Mai, is a classical pianist and a graduate of Rugby School, England. She is a student at the University of London’s Royal Holloway College after having spent a sabbatical in Lebanon, and studied at Göttingen University, Germany.

Cheryl Joy Cotterill


U.S. Court of Appeals – Ninth Circuit
U.S. District Court – Northern District of California
U.S. District Court – Southern District of California


John F. Kennedy University School of Law, J.D., Dean’s List, Witkin Award Recipient, & Constitutional Law T.A., 2010

Criminal Defender Clinic – wrote reply brief on Fourth Amendment grounds in successful appeal of denied Motion to Suppress, People v Rios, (San Francisco Super. Ct.) Appellate Dept. No. 6857

San Francisco State University, Paralegal Certificate (with honors) 2004

The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Hopkins-Nanjing Center, Chinese Studies, 1998-1999

Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies, UC Berkeley, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, 1997-1998

University of Washington, M.A., International Studies, China Studies, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, 1997

Washington State University, B.A., Political Science & Anthropology, Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Golden Key Honor Society, & President’s Honor Roll, 1994


Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan, Associate Attorney, 2010-present, San Francisco, California
Researching legal issues and writing briefs for various stages of post-conviction capital proceedings and other habeas corpus related proceed-ings. Meeting and corresponding with clients on death row at San Quentin State Prison.
Cases include: Bemore v. Chappell, U.S. Ct. of Appeals No. 12-99005 [death penalty], as second counsel draft-ed portions of the opening brief, reply brief, and compiled the excerpts of record with guidance from lead counsel; Bemore v. Chappell, U.S. Dist. (S.D. Cal.) No. 08-CV-0311-LAB [death penalty], as associate counsel drafted successful motion and reply briefs for expansion of record [Doc. Nos. 89 & 95-96]; Bemore v. Martel, 2011 WL 2650337; motion and reply brief for leave to take depositions [Doc. Nos. 110 & 113]; and participated inoral argument as second chair addressing the impact of Pinholster and Richter on Petitioner’s pending motions and petition. See Bemore v. Chappell, 2012 WL 4338799; Stevens v. Chappell, U.S. Dist. (N.D. Cal.) No. 09-CV-00137-WHA [death penalty], as associate counsel drafted successful motion and reply brief for equitable tolling. (Doc. Nos. 17 & 20.) See Stevens v. Chappell, 2012 WL 3638547; In re Carrasco, Calif. Sup. Ct. No. S191869 [death penalty], as supervised counsel drafted Claims 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 of the pending Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, Apr. 1, 2011; drafted successful motion and reply brief for discovery in the Los Angeles Superior Court; drafted successful Pitchess motion and reply brief; and arranged for transcription of video and audio record-ings of impeachment witnesses for use in support of Informal Reply Brief; In re Bacigalupo, Calif. Sup. Ct. No. S079656 [death penalty], as supervised counsel drafted pp. 30-45 & 58-72 of Petitioner’s Response to Respondent’s Exceptions, Dec. 17, 2010; and attended oral argument as second chair; In re Lightsey, Calif. Sup. Ct. No. S176414 [death penalty], as supervised counsel drafted Claims 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 (but not section B regarding Karen Lehman), and 12 of Petitioner’s Reply to In-formal Response, Feb. 3, 2011.

Alexander Anolik Law Offices, Attorney/Law Clerk, 2007-2012
San Francisco, California
Successfully argued and won judgment for client in amount of $331,510, including attorney fees; researching and writing various pleadings in civil matters including motions, oppositions, complaints, answers; conducting investigation & discovery; communicating with and interviewing wit-nesses; and drafting settlements & other contracts.

Law Offices of Paul J. Steiner, Paralegal, 2004-2006
San Francisco, California
Researching and drafting complaints, motions, oppositions to summary judgment, conducting investigation & discovery; preparing exhibits and other documentary evidence for presentation at trial; and organizing files in preparation for litigation

Mount St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth, Counselor 2000
San Francisco, California

Worked as an overnight counselor at a center for adolescent girls and their children.

Bossart LLC, Research Assistant Sept. 1997-June 1998
Beijing, China
Researched and wrote reports on China’s emerging market for envi-ronmental products, such as large scale water purifiers, and assisted with the development and investment of foreign companies.

University of Washington, Teaching Assistant,1996-1997
Seattle, Washington
Led class discussions and graded work in courses involving the origins of the global market and the effects of economic interdependence on nationality, culture, and religion.

U.S. State Department, Intern,1997
Washington, D.C.
Worked in the Office of the Under Secretary of State for Global Af-fairs, assisting the Senior Coordinator for International Women’s Issues.

U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women, Conference Assistant, 1995
Beijing, China
Reviewed speeches, provided logistical support, and basic trans-lation services to the U.S. Delegation.

U.S. State Department, Intern, 1995
Beijing, China
Worked in the American Embassy’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs conducting background checks on visa applicants and researching China’s policy on international education.


Capital Case Defense Seminar, Feb. 14-17, 2014
Monterey, California
CAP’s Ninth Annual Capital Appellate Training Sept. 30, 2013

Litigating Habeas Issues in Light of Recent Legal Developments June 17, 2013

Capital Mitigation Skills Workshop* Feb. 21-24, 2013
*Recipient of the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project Scholarship

We’ll Win the War: Evolving Habeas Practice in Light of Recent Legal Developments Dec. 7, 2012

Capital Case Defense Seminar* Feb. 17-20, 2012 Provider: 
*Recipient of the 2011 Joyce O. Yoshioka Scholarship

CACJ Annual Fall Criminal Defense Seminar* Dec. 10, 2011
Wisdom for the Defense

*Recipient of the 2011 Joyce O. Yoshioka Scholarship
CAP’s Seventh Annual Capital Appellate Training Sept. 26, 2011

Sixteenth Annual National Federal Habeas Corpus Seminar Aug. 18-21, 2011
Charlotte, North Carolina

Litigating Habeas Issues in Light of Recent Legal Developments June 13, 2011

Deepening Our Understanding of Recurring Mitigation & Mental Health Themes May 13, 2011