Nancy Combs

Nancy Combs

Ernest W. Goodrich Professor of Law
Degrees: Ph.D., Leiden University; Certificate, Hague Academy of International Law; J.D., University of California at Boalt Hall School of Law; B.A., University of Portland
Email: [[ncombs]]
Office phone: (757) 221-3830
Office location: Room 212
Full resume: here (.pdf in new window)
Areas of Specialization

Human Rights Law; International Criminal Law; International Law; Post-Conflict Justice; Transitional Justice

Representative Professional Activities and Achievements

Nancy Combs joined the faculty in 2004. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, Professor Combs was awarded the Thelen Marrin prize for graduating first in her class, and she served as an Articles Editor on the California Law Review. Professor Combs received her B.A., in philosophy, summa cum laude, from the University of Portland and her Ph.D. from Leiden University in December 2005. After law school, Professor Combs served as a law clerk to Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and to Justice Anthony Kennedy on the United States Supreme Court.

Prior to joining the faculty, Professor Combs served as legal advisor at the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in The Hague, The Netherlands. Since joining the faculty, she has written extensively on topics in international law and international criminal justice, publishing two books and dozens of articles and essays appearing in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the Vanderbilt Law Review, the Hastings Law Journal, the Washington & Lee Law Review, the Arizona Law Review, the Harvard International Law Journal, the Yale Journal of International Law, the Virginia Journal of International Law, and the Chicago Journal of International Law, among others.

In 2022, Professor Combs received the 1L Professor of the Year Award from the Class of 2022. Professor Combs is a 2009 recipient of William and Mary's Alumni Award Fellowship Award for teaching excellence and a 2009 and 2016 recipient of the Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence. She has participated as an expert witness in international criminal trials in Norway, Sweden and The Netherlands, and she was a member of the International Expert Framework on International Criminal Procedure. She is currently on the Steering Board of Rethinking SLIC, a global research project that explores secondary liability for international crimes and serious human rights violations. Before attending university, Professor Combs owned and operated a chimney sweeping business.

Scholarly Publications
  • Factfinding Without Facts: The Uncertain Evidentiary Foundations of International Criminal Convictions (Cambridge U. Press 2010).
  • Guilty Pleas in International Criminal Law: Constructing a Restorative Justice Approach (Stanford U. Press 2007).
Articles and Book Chapters
  • Fairness Writ Large or Writ Small in International Criminal Justice, Florida Int'l U. L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2025) (invited symposium).
  • Redressing Judicial Misbehavior: An Integrated Approach to Judicial Immunity, 58 U.C. Davis L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2025).
  • Aggressor Status and its Impact on International Criminal Law Case Selection, 35 Pace Int'l L. Rev. 101 (2024) (Invited contributions). SSRN.
  • Holding Aggressors Responsible for International Crimes: Implementing the Unequal Enforcement Doctrine, 57 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 2383 (2024).
  • The Facts of Transitional Justice, in The Oxford Handbook of Transitional Justice (2024) (Lawrence Douglas et al., eds.).
  • Judicial Immunity and its Limits: The Anglo-American Approach, in Transitional Justice and the Criminal Responsibility of Judges (Jaime Couso Salas et al. eds. (forthcoming 2024)).
  • Admissions of Guilt, in Evidence in International Criminal Procedure (Kai Ambos et al., eds., forthcoming 2025).
  • Dissent and Legitimacy in International Criminal Law, 57 Wake Forest L. Rev. 1061 (2023). SSRN.
  • Evidentiary Deficiencies in International Criminal Law: Tracing the Trajectory from Ignored to Integral to Irrelevant, 22 Int'l Crim. L. Rev. 835 (2022). SSRN.
  • International Criminal Justice after Atrocities, in The Oxford Handbook of Mass Atrocities (Barbora Hola et al., eds., Oxford U. Press 2022).
  • Rehabilitating Charge Bargaining, 96 Indiana L.J. 804 (2021). SSRN.
  • The Impact of Separate Opinions on International Criminal Law, 62 Va. J. Int’l L. 1 (2021). SSRN.
  • The Challenge of Witness Protection, in The President on Trial: Prosecuting Hissène Habré 381 (Sharon Weill et al., eds., 2020). SSRN.
  • Unequal Enforcement of the Law: Targeting Aggressors for Mass Atrocity Prosecutions, 61 Arizona L. Rev. 155 (2019). SSRN.
  • Investigative Delegations: Predictable Predicaments, Symposium on Non-State Actors and New Technologies in Atrocity Prevention, 113 Am. J. Int'l L. Unbound 267 (2019).
  • Deconstructing the Epistemic Challenges to Mass Atrocity Prosecutions, 75 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 233 (2018). SSRN.
  • Grave Crimes and Weak Evidence: A Fact-Finding Evolution in International Criminal Law, 58 Harvard Int'l L.J. 47 (2017). SSRN.
  • Seeking Inconsistency: Advancing Pluralism in International Criminal Sentencing, 41 Yale J. Int'l L. 1 (2016). SSRN.
  • The ICTR's Evidentiary System, in Elgar Companion to the ICTR (2016).
  • A New Look at Fact-finding at the ICTR: Advances in Judicial Acknowledgement, 26 Crim. L.F. 387 (2015).
  • Fraudulent Evidence Before Public International Tribunals: The Dirty Stories of International Law, 109 Am. J. Int'l L. 697 (2015) (reviewing W. Michael Reisman & Christina Skinner (2014) (book review).
  • From Prosecutorial to Reparatory: A Valuable Post-Conflict Change of Focus, 36 Mich. J. Int'l L. 219 (2015). SSRN.
  • Legitimizing International Criminal Justice, 33 Mich. J. Int'l L. 321 (2012). SSRN.
  • Obtaining Guilty Pleas for International Crimes: Prosecutorial Difficulties, in The Prosecutor in Transnational Perspective (Erik Luna & Marianne Wade eds., Oxford U. Press 2012).
  • Regulation of Defense Counsel: An Evolution Toward Restriction and Legitimacy, in The Legacy of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (Bert Swart, Goran Sluiter & Alexander Zahar eds., Oxford U. Press 2011).
  • Evidence in International Criminal Law, in Handbook of International Criminal Law 323 (William Schabas & Nadia Bernaz eds., Routledge Press 2010).
  • Testimonial Deficiencies and Evidentiary Uncertainties in International Criminal Trials , 14 UCLA J. Int'l L. & Foreign Aff. 235 (2009) (solicited). SSRN.
  • Plea Bargaining, in International Criminal Law 561 (M. Cherif Bassiouni ed.,Transnat'l Pub. 3d ed. 2008).
  • International Courts and Tribunals, 41 Int'l. Law. 291 (2007) (with Lee M. Caplan et al.).
  • International Courts and Tribunals, in Transnational Dispute Management 1 (2006) (with L. M. Caplan et al.).
  • Procuring Guilty Pleas for International Crimes: The Limited Influence of Sentencing Discounts, 59 Vand. L. Rev. 67 (2006). SSRN.
  • International Courts and Tribunals, 39 Int'l Law. 259 (2005) (with Carl Magnus Nesser et al.).
  • Profile: Judge George H. Aldrich, 7 Int'l L.F. D. Int'l 47 (2005).
  • The International Criminal Court: An Analysis, in The Hague: Legal Capital of the World (Peter J. van Krieken & David McKay eds., Asser Press 2005).
  • International Courts and Tribunals, 38 Int'l Law. 451 (2004) (with Ucheora O. Onwuamaegbu, Mark B. Rees & Jacqueline Weisman).
  • Establishing the International Court, 5 Int'l L. F. 77 (2003).
  • International Courts and Tribunals, 37 Int'l Law. 523 (2003) (with Daryl A. Mundis et al.).
  • International Decisions: Prosecutor v. Plavsic, 97 Am. J. Int'l L. 929 (2003).
  • Copping A Plea to Genocide: The Plea Bargaining of International Crimes, 151 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1 (2002). SSRN.
  • Carter, Reagan, and Khomeini: Presidential Transitions and International Law, 52 Hastings L.J. 303 (2001). SSRN.
  • Diplomatic Adjudication, 3 Chi. J. Int'l L. 267 (2001).
  • International Criminal Jurisprudence Comes of Age: The Substance and Procedure of an Emerging Discipline, 42 Harv. Int'l. L.J. 555 (2001).
  • On Children and Dual Nationality: Sabet and The Islamic Republic of Iran, 13 Leiden J. Int'l L. 173 (2000).
  • Toward a New Understanding of Abuse of Nationality in Claims Before the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, 10 Am. Rev. Int'l Arb. 27 (1999).
  • Words Not War: A Letter from The Netherlands, Portland, Spring 1998.
  • Understanding Kaye Scholer: The Autonomous Citizen, the Managed Subject and the Role of the Lawyer, 82 Cal. L. Rev. 663 (1994) (comment). SSRN.
  • Introduction and Summary of Awards and Decisions, Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, in 25 Yearbook on Commercial Arbitration (2000) (co-author).

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