Robert William “Bill” Piatt
Professor of Law
- J.D., University of New Mexico, 1975
- B.A., Eastern New Mexico University, 1972
License to Practice
- New Mexico
- Kansas (inactive)
Specialties and Courses
- Constitutional Law
- Legal Ethics
- Catholic Legal Perspectives
- Human Trafficking
Robert William “Bill” Piatt was born in Santa Fe. He is Hispanic/Native American (Genizaro), Catholic, and fluent in Spanish. Prior to his arrival at St. Mary’s, he had taught at five law schools in the U.S., had engaged in private practice, and had helped to establish indigent criminal defense and civil legal assistance offices. Piatt had also taught in Mexico and Spain, and assisted Native American communities in this country.
His background has led him to continue his work with Indigenous communities, and to participate in religious and cultural ceremonies. Piatt’s writings are the first to discuss the legal rights of non-federally recognized Indians.
His background has also enabled him to expand on incorporating his Catholic faith into his teaching, research and service.
Piatt’s writings, including ten books and dozens of articles, focus on Human Rights. They have received numerous awards and have been cited in hundreds of publications.
His background in broadcasting has assisted him in participating as a commentator on law-related topics in English and in Spanish, on radio and tv.
Piatt served as Dean of St. Mary’s Law School from 1998 to 2007.
Honors and Awards
- Outstanding Alumni Award, Eastern New Mexico University, 1997
- Outstanding Book on the Subject of Human Rights in North America, Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in North America, 1998, for my book, Black and Brown in America.
- Outstanding Book on the Subject of Human Rights in North America, Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in North America, 1994, for my book, “Language on the Job,”
- Outstanding Academic Book of the Year, 1994, Choice Magazine, for my book, “Language on the Job”
- Outstanding article in the Houston Law Review in 1996, Houston Law Review Alumni Award, for my article, “Toward Domestic Recognition of a Human Right to Language.”
- Slavery in the Southwest: Genizaro Identity, Dignity and the Law (with Moises Gonzales, Carolina Academic Press, 2019)
- Human Trafficking (with Cheryl Taylor Page, Carolina Academic Press, 2016).
- Catholic Legal Perspectives, 3rd Edition (Carolina Academic Press, 2018).
- Black and Brown in America: The Case for Cooperation (New York University Press, 1997). The book was named, “Outstanding Book on the Subject of Human Rights in North America” in 1998 by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in North America.
- Immigration Law: Cases and Materials (Michie, 1994).
- Language on the Job: Balancing Business Needs and Employee Rights (University of New Mexico Press, 1993). The book was named, “Outstanding Book on the Subject of Human Rights in North America” in 1994 by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in North America, and was also selected as an Outstanding Academic Book of the Year by Choice Magazine in 1994.
- ¿Only English? Law and Language Policy in the United States. (University of New Mexico Press, Spring, 1990)
- A Layperson’s Guide to New Mexico Law, Center for Business Services, New Mexico State University, 1977.
Articles in a Periodical
- “Respecting the Identity and Dignity of All Indigenous Americans,” 6 Howard Human & Civil Rights Law Review 83 (2021).
- Commentary: Breyer’s Legacy One to Commend, San Antonio Express-News (Feb. 6, 2022).
- Law Schools Harm Genizaros and Other Indigenous People By Misunderstanding ABA Policy (with Moises Gonzales and Katja Wolf), 49 N.M.L. Rev. 236 (2019).
- Working toward a Fiesta of peace, Santa Fe New Mexican, Commentary, (July 29, 2018).
- Entrada: Slavery, Religion and Reconciliation, 13 Intercultural Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 1 (Fall 2018)
- State Bar Efforts to Deny Accreditation to Faith-Based CLE Ethics Programs Sponsored by Religiously-Affiliated Law Schools, 29 Regent U. L. Rev. 293 (2016-2017).
- Opting out in the Name of God: Will Lawyers be Compelled to Handle Same-Sex Divorces?, 79 Albany L.R. 683 (2016)
- If the Pope is Infallible, Why Does He Need Lawyers? 43 Cap U. L.R. 555 (2015)
- Prudence, Common Sense Best Tools to Stop Ebola, San Antonio Express-News, Op-Ed (November 9, 2014).
- The Future of Legal Education, Texas Lawyer (three-part series, 2013).
- Border Wars & The New Texas Navy: International Treaties, Waterways, and State Sovereignty After Arizona v. U.S. (with Rachel Ambler) 15 Scholar 535, n.3, 2013).
- Reinventing the Wheel: Constructing Ethical Approaches to State Indigent Legal Defense Systems, St. Mary’s L. J. Legal Mal. & Ethics 372 (2012).
- Catholicism and Constitutional Law: More than Privacy in the Penumbras, 7 Vill. J. Cath. Soc. Thought 337 (2010).
- Gender Segregation in the Public Schools: Opportunity, Inequality, or Both?, 11 Scholar 561 (2009).
- Loose Lips Sink Attorney/Client Ships: Unintended Technological disclosure of Confidential Communications (with Dr. Paula deWitte), 39 St. Mary’s Law Journal 781 (2008).
- A Glass Half Full: A Rational/Radical Approach to Immigration Reform, 13 Nexus 3 (2008).
- New Legal Rights in the Legal System of the United States of America (with Professor Roberto Rosas), 23 Juris Tantum 19, Universidad Anahuac, Mexico (2008).
- Immigration Reform from the Outside In, 10 The Scholar: St. Mary’s Law Review on Minority Issues 269 (2008).
- Los Nuevos Derechos en el Sistema Jurídico de Estados Unidos (with Roberto Rosas), 20 Juris Tantum 16, Universidad Anáhuac, México (2005).
- México y los Estados Unidos: Idioma Común, Futuro Común, 9-10 Derecho y Cultura Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (2003).
- One View to Add to the Many, 34 TOL. L. REV. 143, 144 (2002).
- Training Lawyers for a Global Economy, Renmin University of China, (Mandarin and English), (2000).
- Appellate Law in the New Millennium: Bridging Theoretical Foundations with Practical Application, 31 St. Mary’s Law Journal 987, (1999).
- Of Pigeonholes and Prospective Jurors, 14 Chicano-Latino L. Rev. 61 (1994).
- Attorney as Interpreter: A Return to Babble, 20 N.M. L. Rev. 1 (1990) (lead article).
- Born as Second-Class Citizens in the USA: Children of Undocumented Parents, 63 Notre Dame L. Rev. 35 (1988).
- Toward Domestic Recognition of a Human Right to Language, 23 Hous. L. Rev. 885 (1986). Recipient of the Houston Law Review Alumni award as the outstanding article published in the Houston Law Review in 1996.
- Spanish on the Job: Business Needs and Employee Rights, published in La Voz del Llano, Kansas Advisory Committee on Hispanic Affairs, Vol. 5, No. 4 (July, 1986).
- Awaiting the Rebirth (paper presented to 1986 Minority Law Teacher’s Conference, Houston).
- Equal Access to Law (School), published in The Alliance, Kansas State University, May 1985. Discusses theoretical considerations regarding attracting women and minority students to law school.
- Linguistic Diversity on the Airwaves: Spanish-Language Broadcasting and the FCC, 2 La Raza L.J. 101 (1984) (lead article).
- Orgullo Hispano en El Maratón de Nueva York, El Hispano, Albuquerque, New Mexico, November 5, 1982.
- Hasta Luego, Papá, Salsa Literary Magazine, Espanola, New Mexico, 8/2/90. A “cuento” (short story).
Chapters in Books
- “Catholic Perspectives on Family Law”, in Through a Clear Lens: American Law From a Catholic Perspective (Scarecrow Press, a division of Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Group, Inc., 2015).
- “Attorney As Interpreter”, in The Latino Condition: A Critical Reader (Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, eds. N.Y.U. Press 1998, and in the second ed., 2011).
- “The Confusing State of Minority Language Rights”, in Language Loyalties: A Source Book on the Official English Controversy (James Crawford, ed., U. of Chicago Press 1992)