HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

David Rudolf

Internationally Recognized Civil Rights and Criminal Defense Lawyer, Co-Host of the Webby-Award Winning Podcast Abuse of Power, and Author of American Injustice: Inside Stories from the Underbelly of the Criminal Justice System


  • The Role of Lawyers in a Democratic Society
  • Inside the Staircase: The Owl Theory
  • American Injustice: Wrongful Convictions and Unsolved
  • The Impact of Cognitive Bias on Decision-Making


North Carolina
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David S. Rudolf is one of the pre-eminent trial lawyers in the country, specializing in high- profile and complex criminal and civil rights cases, as well as representing individuals in civil rights litigation against law enforcement agencies arising from wrongful convictions. He has been recognized for his work with professional organizations, serving in various leadership positions in the ABA Criminal Justice Section, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers and Advocates for Justice. He is the co-host of the criminal justice podcast Abuse of Power.  American Injustice (Custom House) is his first book, which was published in January 2022.

Effortlessly blending gripping true crime reporting and searing observations on civil rights in America, American Injustice takes readers behind the scenes of a justice system in desperate need of reform. Rudolf draws from his years of experience in the American criminal legal system to shed light on the misconduct that exists at all levels of law enforcement and the tragic consequences that follow in its wake. Tracing these themes through the lens of some of his most important cases – including new details from the Michael Peterson trial made famous in The Staircase – Rudolf takes the reader inside crime scenes to examine forensic evidence left by perpetrators; revisits unsolved murders to detail how and why the true culprits were never prosecuted; reveals how confirmation bias leads police and prosecutors to employ tactics that make wrongful arrests and prosecutions more likely; and exposes how poverty and racism fundamentally distort the system. He gives a voice to those who have been the victim of wrongful accusations and shows in the starkest terms the human impact of legal wrongdoing.

A highly respected and informative voice to the legal world, Rudolf is the ideal speaker for universities and law schools, legal societies and conventions, and libertarian seminars or meetings.

Rudolf has taught Trial Advocacy at the UNC School of Law and the National

Institute for Trial Advocacy, and Criminal Litigation at Duke University School of Law. Most recently, he has received world-wide acclaim for his representation of Michael Peterson in the Netflix documentary, The Staircase documentary.  He currently resides in North Carolina.

Praise for American Injustice:

“Makes a fine companion to Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy and Emily Bazelon’s Charged. A stellar—and often shocking— report on a broken criminal justice system.”
--Kirkus Reviews (STARRED review)

“Defense attorney Rudolf debuts with a searing look at systemic failures in the U.S. justice system… Enriched by Rudolf’s firsthand experience and heartfelt compassion for his clients, this is a harrowing call for change.”
--Publishers Weekly

“By sharing first-hand accounts of people falsely accused and unjustifiably prosecuted, Rudolf vibrantly demonstrates just how quickly and how permanently an innocent person’s life can be destroyed. This is a sobering, infuriating, and essential examination of the flaws and failures of the country’s legal system.”

“I’ve known David Rudolf since 1975 when we began our careers as public defenders in the Bronx. He is a brilliant and passionate advocate whose searing critique of the way power is abused in America’s criminal legal system is based on firsthand experience in the trenches, sophisticated insight, and a willingness to speak truth to power.”
--Barry Scheck, Co-Founder of & Special Counsel to The Innocence Project; Professor of Law, Cardozo Law School

“David Rudolf has written a searing indictment of the American criminal justice system. This terrific book is neither a polemic nor an academic treatise. By describing the cases from his amazing career, Rudolf has written a very engaging and powerful first-person account of how justice and injustice are actually done in the United States.”
--Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law

“David Rudolf has been confronting injustice for decades. In this exciting book, his powerful voice for justice will inspire the new generation and inform us all.”
--Michael E. Tigar, lawyer, teacher, author of Sensing Injustice: A Lawyer’s Life in the Battle for Change