David Coombs

Photo of David Coombs
David CoombsVisiting Professor of Law

Contact Information

401-254-4582dcoombs@rwu.eduCurriculum Vitae


LL.M, U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s School
J.D., University of Idaho School of Law
B.A., University of Idaho

Visiting Professor of Law David Coombs joined the RWU Law faculty in 2014.  He teaches criminal procedure and coaches the RWU Trial Team.  Professor Coombs also serves as the faculty advisor to the Military Law Society, a student-run organization dedicated to raising visibility and promoting knowledge and awareness of military law issues affecting students, law professionals and member of America’s Armed Forces.

Professor Coombs is an internationally respected trial attorney and expert on military law.  He served as the lead defense counsel in the highly publicized case of United States v. Manning, the Soldier who provided classified information to Wikileaks.  Professor Coombs continued to represent PFC Manning until her release from military prison in 2017, after President Obama commuted her sentence (that commutation order now hangs in Coombs' home office). Coombs had argued passionately for that commutation.

He has spoken on topics of national security law, classified information, military courts-martial, freedom of the press, and gender dysphoria rights at universities and on national and international media programs. 

Prior to joining the RWU faculty, Professor Coombs served for over 13 years on active duty in the U.S. Army JAG Corps.  Professor Coombs prosecuted and defended over 130 cases while on active duty.  As a defense counsel, he achieved numerous acquittals and tried several high profile cases for the Army.  He served as the Army’s first senior capital defense counsel and tried the death penalty case of United States v. SGT Hasan K. Akbar.

In 2006, he became a professor at the U.S. Army JAG Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Virginia.  He taught evidence, capital litigation, high profile cases, trial advocacy, criminal procedure and criminal law.  While on faculty, Professor Coombs was selected to deploy to Iraq in support of the Law and Order Task Force in Baghdad as a judicial advisor in 2008.  He mentored and assisted 16 Iraqi prosecutors and 27 investigative judges to help build essential Iraqi capacity for independent, evidence-based and transparent adjudication of cases.  He also developed and implemented a case management system that allowed the Baghdad court to track, monitor and manage its caseload of over 1,600 criminal cases. 

Following his return to the U.S., Professor Coombs transitioned from the active duty military to the reserves, serving for five years as a reserve judge advocate. He also established a successful military criminal defense practice, representing U.S. Army soldiers around the world. Having served in the Army for 22 years, he retired in 2018 as a Lieutenant Colonel. . 

Over the course of his military career, Professor Coombs received seven Meritorious Service Medals, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, and the Overseas Service Ribbon.


United States v. Blazier – So Exactly Who Needs an Invitation to the Dance, The Army Lawyer, July 2010, at 15

Pass Go, Collect $200.00, and Hire Yourself an Expert – Article 46 and the Right to Expert Assistance, The Army Lawyer, June 2008, at 28

Uncharged Misconduct - The Edge is Never Dull, The Army Lawyer, May 2007, at 18

Close Course Type Descriptions

Course Types

We have classified RWU Law classes under the following headers. One of the following course types will be attached to each course which will allow students to narrow down their search while looking for classes.

Core Course

Students in the first and second year are required to take classes covering the following aspects of the law—contracts, torts, property, criminal law, civil procedure, and constitutional law, evidence, and professional responsibility.  Along with these aspects, the core curriculum will develop legal reasoning skills.


After finishing the core curriculum the remaining coursework toward the degree is completed through upper level elective courses.  Students can choose courses that peak their interests or courses that go along with the track they are following.


Seminars are classes where teachers and small groups of students focus on a specific topic and the students complete a substantial research paper.


Inhouse Clinics and Clinical Externships legal education is law school training in which students participate in client representation under the supervision of a practicing attorney or law professor.  RWU Law's Clinical Programs offer unique and effective learning opportunities and the opportunity for practical experience while still in law school.