Winter 2022

In Memoriam

Professor Yale Kamisar

Yale Kamisar

Yale Kamisar, a towering, beloved figure in the Law Quad and a nationally renowned scholar of constitutional law, died on January 30, 2022, in Ann Arbor. He was 92.

Kamisar, the Clarence Darrow Distinguished University Professor of Law Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Law, was raised in the Bronx, New York, and attended New York University and Columbia Law School as a first-generation college graduate. (His time at Columbia was interrupted by service in the Korean War, for which he was awarded a Purple Heart.) After law school, he joined Covington and Burling as an associate. 

He went on to teach at the University of Minnesota Law School before joining the Michigan Law faculty in 1965, where he taught and mentored Michigan Law students for more than a half century.

“Yale was larger than life in so many ways. If you read through the many tributes that were written when he retired, you will learn stories about Yale the brilliant scholar; Yale the teacher; and Yale the loud, intimidating, auto provocative violator of personal space,” says Eve Primus, ’01, the Yale Kamisar Collegiate Professor of Law. 

“And you will also learn that Yale was so much more than all of those things,” she continues. 

“He was an incredibly kind and generous soul. He read every draft someone sent him, responded to every phone call or email, and regularly gave of his time to help others. I remember when I first learned about his service in the Korean War and asked him about it. He downplayed it and said he was just doing his part because that is how he thought about public service—as just doing his part. The world is a better place because Yale was in it,” says Primus. “I will always cherish my memories of him. He meant so much to the criminal procedure world, to this institution, and to me.”

Often referred to as the “father of Miranda” for the influence his writing had on the landmark Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona, his scholarship was cited in more than 30 Supreme Court rulings and has shaped generations of scholars in the fields of constitutional law and criminal procedure. 

“The term ‘giant’ is often overused even if kindly meant,” says Ted St. Antoine, ’54, the James E. and Sarah A. Degan Professor Emeritus of Law. “But Yale was indeed a giant, the country’s foremost constitutional criminal law proceduralist.”

Kamisar is the author of Police Interrogation and Confessions: Essays in Law and Policy and co-author of Criminal Justice in Our Time and The Supreme Court: Trends and Developments (five annual volumes). He also co-authored two widely used casebooks: Modern Criminal Procedure: Cases, Comments & Questions, 10 editions; and Constitutional Law: Cases, Comments & Questions, 12 editions. 

In addition, he wrote numerous articles on police interrogation and confessions, right to counsel, search and seizure, and euthanasia and assisted suicide, and he was widely quoted on these subjects. 

Kamisar is survived by his wife, Joan; his sons, David, Gordon, and Jonathan; his daughters-in-law, Denise, Karen, and Stacy; four grandchildren; and two sisters.

Read more about the life of Yale Kamisar in “The Warrior Scholar,” part of the Michigan Heritage Project.