Professor of Law and Harvey A. Feldman Distinguished Faculty Scholar
Dermot Groome is a former national and international prosecutor who currently teaches related subjects and researches emerging areas of human rights and international criminal law.
Professor Groome began his career in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office where he was a member of the Sex Crimes Unit. He tried over 60 cases and presented many indictments to the New York County Grand Jury. Following his time at the District Attorney’s office, Groome spent over five years in Jamaica, W.I. working on issues of community development, human rights, and children’s rights.
Upon leaving Jamaica, he became a Legal Advisor to the International Human Rights Law Group and worked in Cambodia. Groome was in Phnom Penh during the grenade attack of garment workers on March 30, 1997, that killed 15 women and seriously injured dozens more. He helped lead the investigation into that attack for the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and drafted the report presented to the UN Security Council. Groome returned to Cambodia after the coup-d’état in July 1997 to work with the Cambodia Defender’s Project and Legal Aid of Cambodia helping investigate deaths in police custody and working on issues related to the incarceration of children suspected of petty crimes. He wrote a draft juvenile criminal procedure code for consideration by the Cambodian Minister of Youth.
Groome spent over 11 years as a senior war crimes prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He investigated and drafted the first genocide indictment against a sitting head of state, Slobodan Milošević, and was the Senior Trial Attorney for the Bosnia indictment. In total, Groome led the prosecution of five international criminal trials including the case against Ratko Mladić, who was convicted of genocide for the murder of over 7,000 men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995. He led eight large complex international investigations of senior military, political, and police officials. Groome’s cases all included crimes of sexual violence against women, men, and children. He was instrumental in the development of Joint Criminal Enterprise, a theory of criminal responsibility often used to assess the culpability of senior officials for the crimes committed by their subordinates. Two documentaries have been made about Professor Groome’s cases: The Trial of Ratko Mladić (PBS/Frontline 2019) and Crimes Before the ICTY: Višegrad (UN TV 2017). His work has also been featured in BC Law Magazine (2020).
Groome is the author of the Handbook of Human Rights Investigation (2nd ed. 2011, foreword by Richard J. Goldstone). The Humanitarian Law Center considers it a “cornerstone text” in human rights and Amnesty International calls it “an invaluable tool for those committed to documenting human rights abuses.” In 2017, HHRI was translated into Arabic for distribution to human rights advocates in Iraq and Syria.
In 2014, Groome served on a panel of experts with a mandate to study the effectiveness of the International Criminal Court (ICC). He presented the report and its findings at UN Headquarters to the Assembly of State Parties (the ICC treaty body) during its annual meeting. The report included over 190 recommendations for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the court.
Groome has written several chapters in books published by Oxford and Cambridge university presses and several articles in U.S. law journals. He is currently working on two current issues in international law and building on his earlier work on the Right to Truth and Right to Know to expand the right to allow the families of disappeared persons to seek access to information in the possession of international organizations. Groome is also studying the issue of child soldiers, and he is exploring changes to international law that would preserve the civilian status of children unlawfully incorporated into combat formations vis-à-vis those who unlawfully conscripted them.
In addition to teaching Criminal Law, International Criminal Law, and Human Rights, Groome oversees the International Justice Program, which offers Dickinson Law students an opportunity to pursue advanced international study and gain legal experience during a semester in The Hague working in one of the international courts. He also oversees the Law School’s Center for International Trial Advocacy, which provides specialized training to successful trial lawyers appearing before international tribunals. In 2017 and 2018, Groome, Professor of Law Gary S. Gildin, and Dickinson Law students worked together to develop and execute a first-of-its-kind international trial advocacy program for foreign lawyers using courtrooms at the ICC.
Groome also advises governments and victims groups with matters pending before the ICC and international human rights bodies. He is the recipient of several awards, including the New York State Bar Association’s Elihu Root/Henry L. Stimpson Award for Public Service.
Groome, D. (2014) Evidences in Cases of Mass Criminality. Featured in: I. Bantekas & E. Mylonaki (Eds.), Criminological Approaches to International Criminal Law (pp. 117-158). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Handbook of Human Rights Investigation, 1st ed., Human Rights Press, 2001; 2nd ed. Humanitarian Law Centre (in conjunction with OSCE)