Skip to main content

Dalton Roberson Papers

Identifier: UP001840

Scope and Content

The papers of Judge Roberson deal primarily with felony cases he was involved in, his election campaigns, clippings concerning him and some correspondence.

Subjects: African American judges African American judges-Biography African American lawyers African American lawyers-History


  • 1970 - 1999


Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


Dalton Roberson came to Michigan in 1953 to find work after graduating from high school. He was a boom operator for the U.S. Air Force before earning his bachelor’s degree at Michigan State University in 1967. He then worked for the Department of Social Services before attending the Detroit College of Law. After graduating, he worked on criminal cases for the Wayne County Prosecuter’s Office and eventually opened up a law firm with Robert Harrison and Bernard Friedman. He has also served as an assistant Wayne County prosecutor and an assistant U.S. attorney. Other accomplishments include being elected to Recorder’s Court in 1974 and eventually being elected Chief Judge of Recorder’s Court in 1987. He has also been a lecturer at several Detroit area law institutes. He has been praised and criticized in his career: in 1992 he earned accolades from the National Conference of Black Lawyers as judge of the year, but Reader’s Digest cited him as one of the country’s worst judges in 1999. Roberson never had any regrets about his actions, however, and always stood firm in his beliefs of justice. He retired in 1999.


.5 Linear Feet (1 MB)


Upon graduating from the Detroit College of Law, Roberson went into private practice, and later worked as an assistant Wayne County prosecutor and as an assistant U.S. attorney. He also served as a member and then chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. Roberson was elected to the Detroit Recorders Court in 1974 and eventually became its chief judge in 1987. The Roberson Collection includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, his retirement speech and photos, amongst other material, largely from the period in which he served as a judge.


Materials arranged alphabetically.


The papers of Dalton Roberson were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs by Judge Roberson in October 1999.

Related Materials

Damon Keith collections

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in January 2004.
Guide to the Dalton Roberson Papers
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA