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Professor Kevin Washburn

Kevin K. Washburn

Regents Professor of Law

B.A. 1989, University of Oklahoma
J.D. 1993, Yale Law School
Member of the New Mexico and Minnesota Bars

 Curriculum Vitae SSRN

Contact Information

 Ph.: 505-277-3304
 Office: 1113


Kevin Washburn served the UNM School of Law as dean from June 2009 – October 2012, bringing a strong background in Indian law, criminal law and gambling law and a prolific portfolio of books, book chapters, articles and congressional testimony. Through his writings and testimony, he has influenced public policy in both criminal law in Indian country and gaming. Washburn was on leave serving the Obama Administration in Washington, D.C. from October 2012 through December 2015.

Washburn, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, came to the UNM School of Law from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, where he was the Rosenstiel Distinguished Professor of Law. He was on the faculty of the University of Minnesota Law School from 2002-2008, during which he spent a year as the Visiting Oneida Nation Professor at Harvard Law School, during the 2007-2008 academic year.

Prior to entering academia, he was a federal prosecutor in New Mexico, serving in the Violent Crimes Section of the U.S. Attorney's Office. He was a trial attorney with the U.S. Justice Department and later served as general counsel of the National Indian Gaming Commission, an independent federal regulatory agency in Washington, D.C.

At Yale Law School, he served as editor-in-chief of the Yale Journal on Regulation. Following law school, he clerked for Judge William C. Canby Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He then joined the Honors Program at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.

Washburn began his legal education at UNM as a student at the American Indian Law Center’s Pre-law Summer Institute and later he taught at UNM as an adjunct professor, during his time as a federal prosecutor.

Administrative Law

The Administrative Law course reviews administrative law practice and procedure, primarily at the federal level. The course begins with materials on the nature and function of administrative agencies. The course then reviews agency rulemaking power, emphasizing federal and state Administrative Procedure Act (APA) requirements. The course then considers the adjudicative powers of administrative agencies, including an agency's obligation to afford persons due process of law. Finally, the course examines judicial review of administrative agency decisions.

Contracts I

In an industrial society characterized by a "free enterprise" system and notions of individual freedom, "contract" is one of the primary means by which private individuals order their affairs. The contracts course inquires into why promises are enforced as contracts, which promises are enforced, and how they are enforced. The course places emphasis on close and critical analyses of court decisions.

Criminal Law I

This course considers the general principles of substantive criminal law and evaluates them in terms of the various purposes that justify a system of criminal punishment. It will include an analysis of the doctrines of mens rea attempt, complicity, and conspiracy as well as certain crimes such as homicide and certain defenses such as self-defense.

Gaming and Gambling Law

This course covers the law and policy of prohibiting or regulating gambling, which in its lawful form, has recently been one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. The course examines why and how jurisdictions regulate (or prohibit) gambling. The course examines why and how jurisdictions regulate (or prohibit) gambling. Numerous interesting questions arise: are there important distinctions between gambling in the stock market and in a casino? How do we tax an activity that for some is considered entertainment, and for others, a business enterprise? Which order of government should be involved in this work? Which regulatory model works best? How do we effectively limit a commercial activity that may have serious social harms? In addressing these questions, the course is in some ways, an applied course in criminal law, contracts, due process, constitutional federalism, and regulation, as well as commerce and internet.

Federal Jurisdiction

Federal courts play a limited but powerful role in the American legal system. This course explores the role of the federal courts, the nature of federal judicial power, the relationship between the courts and Congress, and its relationship with state and tribal legislative and judicial systems.

Indian Gaming

This course examines the various legal and political issues facing the enterprise of Indian gaming. The course materials will include the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, applicable regulations, selected gaming compacts, and the leading cases.


American Indian Law: Native Nations and the Federal System (6th ed. 2010). Author/editor with Carole Goldberg, Rebecca Tsosie, and Elizabeth Rodke Washburn.

Indian Law Stories (2010) (co-editor, with Carole Goldberg and Phil Frickey).

The Law of Gaming and Gambling (2011).

Felix Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law (2012 edition) (co-editor with editor-in-chief Nell Jessup Newton and other editors).

Chapters in Books

Criminal Jurisdiction (Chapter 9), Indian Gaming (Chapter 12) and Economic Development (Chapter 21) in 2007 and 2009 update of Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law (2005 ed.). Member of the Executive Board of Editors.

Tribal Voting Rights and Election Law, Section 4.06, Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law (3d ed. 2005).

Restoring the Grand Jury (Chapter 9), in Grand Jury 2.0: Modern Perspectives on the Grand Jury, Roger Fairfax, Ed. (Carolina Academic Press) (2010).

Legal Scholarship

Elena Kagan and the Miracle at Harvard, 61 Journal of Legal Education 67 (2011).
Available at: SSRN

The Next Great Generation of Indian Law Judges, 81 University of Colorado Law Review 959 (2010).
Available at: SSRN

Conflict and Culture: Federal Implementation of IGRA by the National Indian Gaming Commission, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Department of Justice, 42 Arizona State Law Journal 303 (2010).
Available at: SSRN

Felix Cohen, Anti-Semitism and American Indian Law, 33 Am. Indian L. Rev. (2009) (reviewing Dalia Tsuk Mitchell, Architect of Justice: Felix S. Cohen and the Founding of American Legal Pluralism (2007)).
Available at: SSRN

Paternalism or Protection?: Federal Review of Tribal Economic Decisions in Indian Gaming, 12 Gaming L. Rev. & Econ. 435 (2008) (co-author, with Barry W. Brandon, Philip N. Hogen and Vanya S. Hogen).
Available at: SSRN

American Indians, Crime and The Law: Five Years of Scholarship on Criminal Justice in Indian Country, 40 Ariz. St. L.J. 1003 (2008).
Available at: SSRN

Sex Offender Registration in Indian Country, 6 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 3 (2008) (co-author, with Virginia Davis).
Available at: SSRN

Remembering DeGiacomo, 38 N.M. L. Rev. 235 (2008).
Available at: SSRN

The Legacy of Bryan v. Itasca County: How an Erroneous $147 County Tax Notice Helped Bring Tribes $200 Billion in Indian Gaming Revenue, 92 Minn. L. Rev. 919 (2008).
Available at: SSRN | Hein Online | Other Link

Restoring the Grand Jury, 76 Fordham L. Rev. 2333 (2008).
Available at: SSRN | Hein Online

American Indians, Crime, and the Law, 104 Mich. L. Rev. 709 (2006).
Available at: SSRN | Hein Online

Federal Criminal Law and Tribal Self-Determination, 84 N.C. L. Rev. 779 (2006).
Available at: SSRN | Hein Online

Tribal Self-Determination at the Crossroads, 38 Conn. L. Rev. 777 (2006).
Available at: SSRN | Hein Online

Reconsidering the Commission’s Treatment of Tribal Courts, 17 Fed. Sent. R. 209 (Feb. 2005).
Available at: SSRN

The Federal Criminal Justice System in Indian Country and the Legacy of Colonialism, 52 Fed. Law. 40 (March/April 2005).

A Legacy of Public Law 280: Comparing and Contrasting Minnesota's New Rule for the Recognition of Tribal Court Judgments with the Recent Arizona Rule, 31 Wm. Mitchell L. Rev. 479 (2004) (co-author, with Chloe Thompson).
Available at: Hein Online

Federal Law, State Policy, and Indian Gaming, 4 Nev. L.J. 285 (2004).
Available at: Hein Online

A Different Kind of Symmetry, 34 N.M. L. Rev. 263 (2004).
Available at: SSRN | Hein Online

Tribal Courts and Federal Sentencing, 36 Ariz. St. L.J. 403 (2004).
Available at: Hein Online

Lara, Lawrence, Supreme Court Litigation, and Lessons from Social Movements, 40 Tulsa L. Rev. 25 (2004).
Available at: Hein Online

The Mechanics of Indian Gaming Management Contract Approval, 8 Gaming L. Rev. 333 (2004).
Available at: SSRN

Recurring Problems in Indian Gaming, 1 Wyo. L. Rev. 427 (2001), excerpted in Robert N. Clinton, et al., American Indian Law: Native Nations and the Federal System: Cases and Materials 954 (4th ed. 2003).
Available at: Hein Online

Recent Developments, 21 Am. Indian L. Rev. 183 (1997).
Available at: Hein Online

Congressional and Invited Testimony

Prepared Statement (and live testimony), Natural Gas as a Transportation Fuel: Response to House Memorial 41 Requesting a Study” (with co-authors Kevin Boberg and Jeffrey Kendall), Hearing before the State of New Mexico 51st Legislature, Science, Technology and Communication Interim Committee,  Santa Fe, New Mexico (November 28, 2011).
Available at: SSRN

Prepared Statement (and live testimony), “The Implications of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 for Sentencing Reform,” Field Hearing, United States Sentencing Commission (Chief Judge William K. Sessions, III, Chair), Phoenix, Arizona (January 21, 2010).
Available at: SSRN

Prepared Statement (and live testimony), Oversight Hearing on the Department of the Interior’s New Guidance on Land-Into-Trust for Gaming for Indian Tribes, United States House of Representatives, Committee on Natural Resources (Nick. J. Rahall, Jr., Chairman), 110th Congress, 2d Session (February 27, 2008).
Available at: SSRN

Prepared Statement (and live testimony), Oversight Hearing on Law Enforcement In Indian Country,  United States Senate, Committee on Indian Affairs (Byron Dorgan, Chairman), 110th Congress, 1st Session (June 21, 2007).
Available at: SSRN

Prepared Statement (and live testimony), Oversight Hearing on the Minimum Internal Control Standards in Indian Gaming, United States House of Representatives, Committee on Resources (Richard Pombo, Chairman), 109th Congress, 2d Session (May 11, 2006).
Available at: SSRN

Prepared Statement (and live testimony), Oversight Hearing on the Regulation of Class III Indian Gaming following the Decision by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in Colorado River Indian Tribe v. NIGC, United States Senate, Committee on Indian Affairs (John McCain, Chairman), 109th Congress, 1st Session (September 21, 2005).
Available at: SSRN

Prepared Statement (and live testimony), Oversight Hearing on the Regulation of Indian Gaming, United States Senate, Committee on Indian Affairs (John McCain, Chairman), 109th Congress, 1st Session (April 27, 2005).
Available at: SSRN

In Re Minnesota General Rules of Practice, Minnesota Supreme Court.  Provided oral and written testimony to the Minnesota Supreme Court in October 2002 on the need for a rule recognizing tribal court judgments in state courts.  The court adopted such a rule in December 2003.

Other Writings

Executive's Desk: Law school a wellspring of future U.S. leaders, Albuquerque Journal, July 9, 2012

Op-Ed, No One Size Fits All in Judicial Selection, Albuquerque Journal, September 19, 2011.

Op-Ed, Hoping for a Smooth [Redistricting] Process This Time, Albuquerque Journal, August 14, 2011.

Op-Ed, Judicial System Rises to Challenges of Times, Albuquerque Journal, December 17, 2010.

Op-Ed, Dean Transformed UNM Law School Into Success, Albuquerque Journal, December 4, 2010.

Op-Ed, UNM Law School's Legacy Rich in Accomplishments, Albuquerque Journal, November 11, 2010.

We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution (2009) (contributing writer) (a textbook for use in secondary education).

Published Lecture, American Indians, Crime and the Law: Five Years of Scholarship on Criminal Justice in Indian Country, Inaugural William C. Canby, Jr., Distinguished Lecture, 40 ARIZONA STATE LAW JOURNAL 1003 (2008).

The New Realism: The Next Generation of Scholarship in Federal Indian Law, Public Safety and Criminal Justice, 32 Am. Indian L. Rev. 60 (2007) (Conference transcript, National Congress of American Indians Conference, Berkeley, Cal., Nov. 17, 2006).

Op-Ed, Iowa Credited for Step to Enforce Tribal Judgments, Des Moines Register (May 29, 2007).

Bryan v. Itasca County - Changing the Stakes for Minnesota Indians, in Minnesota 150: The People, Places and Things That Shape Our State (Kate Roberts ed., Minnesota Historical Society, 2007).

Op-Ed, Don’t Overestimate Gaming Industry Revenues, (Minneapolis) Star Tribune (Oct. 1, 2004).

Indian Gaming: A Primer on the Development of Indian Gaming, The NIGC and Several Important Unresolved Issues, N02GENB ABA-LGLED D-1 (Feb. 2002).

Law School News