James M. Binnall is an Associate Professor of Law, Criminology, and Criminal Justice at California State University, Long Beach, where he is also the Executive Director of Project Rebound. Dr. Binnall is a formerly incarcerated person who spent just over four years in prison for a DUI Homicide that claimed the life of his close friend. While incarcerated, he took his LSAT’s and was accepted to law school. Once released, Dr. Binnall earned his JD and LL.M., was admitted to the State Bar of California, and received his Ph.D. in Criminology, Law and Society from University of California, Irvine. A practicing attorney, he represents law students and attorneys in the State Bar of California’s moral character and fitness determination process and is the Co-Founder/Co-Executive Director of the California System-Involved Bar Association, a bar association comprised entirely of formerly incarcerated and system-involved law students and lawyers. His research explores the civic marginalization of those with criminal convictions, access to the legal profession for those with prior carceral involvement, parole and post-release restrictions, and conditions of confinement.
Dr. Binnall’s primary research focus examines the exclusion of individuals with a felony conviction from the jury process. One of the nation’s leading scholars on the topic, he has testified for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the California Senate and Assembly, and presented his research to the American Bar Association Jury Commission. Funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the American Bar Association, his work has also appeared in Law 360, CALmatters, Mother Jones, Truthout, ABA Journal, and The Appeal. In 2020, Dr. Binnall’s research helped to facilitate the passage of Senate Bill 310, which restored juror eligibility to most Californians with a felony criminal history. His new book, Twenty Million Angry Men: The Case for Including Convicted Felons in Our Jury Process (University of California Press, 2021), is the first devoted exclusively to the issue of record-based juror exclusion.
As a Fellow with the Institute to End Mass Incarceration, Dr. Binnall continues to study and speak about the exclusion of individuals with a felony conviction from American juries. His ongoing research evaluates how jurors with a conviction history contribute in mock jury settings to jury deliberations, the jury selection process for newly juror-eligible Californians with a prior felony conviction, and public opinion regarding record-based exclusion in the civil jury context. During his research fellowship, Dr. Binnall will also launch a new project focused on access to the legal profession for those with prior convictions that will draw on his personal story, empirical research, and years of professional experience representing formerly incarcerated state bar applicants.