A 1963 Hobart graduate, Robert J. Castellani is retiring from his post as DeKalb County Superior Court Judge after more than 26 years of service. He plans to join Emory University’s Center of Law and Religion (CSLR) as Spruill Family Senior Fellow in Law and Religion. Castellani plans to research how the U.S. legal system can better handle the influence of religious and spiritual values on criminal and civil law decisions. He also will teach legal ethics to second- and third-year law students.
“For many years I have admired the work of CSLR, which studies how the interaction of law and religion shapes our society,” says Castellani. “The prevailing notion in our country that religion has no place in law can be, in my opinion, an impediment to real justice. In most difficult cases, recognition of core values will assist in resolving the dispute. I wish to consider more deeply how that recognition can occur in today’s legal system.”
Castellani will continue to serve DeKalb County as a senior judge and assist in the county’s drug court, a program he started in 2002 that has helped more than 300 people reclaim their lives from drug addiction. His legal career includes trying cases and arguing appeals in all levels of state and federal courts, including oral argument in the U.S. Supreme Court; serving as both prosecutor and defense counsel in criminal cases; and trying a variety of civil cases, including personal injury, domestic relations and business disputes. He also has coached boys’ and girls’ basketball and soccer, served as a church elder and volunteers for service projects in his community.
An Emory Law adjunct professor of ethics who has spent the large part of 45 years in a courtroom, hopes to prepare Emory Law students for the “landmines that lie ahead” in their legal careers.
“Anyone can read the rules and pass the tests, but in a real-life situation when there are competing interests and the rules are in conflict, they won’t know what to do and can make mistakes. I want to prepare them to make the best choices,” he says.
The CSLR is home to international scholars and forums on the religious foundations of law, politics, and society. It offers expertise on how the teachings and practices of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have shaped and can continue to transform the fundamental ideas and institutions of our public and private lives.
While at Hobart, Castellani majored in political science and sociology, was a member of Kappa Sigma, the Debate Team, and Newman Club. He also played lacrosse and soccer.