James A. Shellenberger

Professor of Law

Professor Shellenberger joined the Temple Law School faculty in Fall 1983. His teaching and scholarship focus on Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure.  Currently, he is teaching Criminal Law I, Criminal Procedure I and II, Federal Criminal Law, Litigation Basics and, often, a small section of the first year Introduction to Transactional Skills course. Professor Shellenberger has also taught in past years, Legal Decision Making (also called Legal Process), Torts, and Civil Procedure. In Spring 1999, he taught Comparative (US-Japan) Criminal Procedure and East-West Negotiation in the Temple Law (Tokyo) Japan program. Professor Shellenberger is also one of several law faculty members who direct the Temple Law School summer program in Rome, Italy, and when in Rome he teaches International Criminal Law.

Professor Shellenberger’s distinguished law teaching career includes numerous teaching awards. In April 2013, he received the highest honor available to any faculty member throughout Temple University, when the University presented him with the Great Teacher Award.  Only a very small number of university professors (only two in 2013 and only one in 2014) are honored with this award in any given year.  Earlier, in October 2011, the University also named Professor Shellenberger the Law School’s recipient of the University Outstanding Faculty Service Award.  In 1996, Professor Shellenberger received Temple University’s Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching (1996).

In addition, the Temple Law School Alumni Association awarded Professor Shellenberger the Murray H. Shusterman Award for Excellence in Teaching in April 2012.  The Temple Law School graduating classes have awarded him the Williams Award (for making the most outstanding contribution to their law school careers) five times (1986, 1995, 2004, 2007, and 2012).

In addition to his faculty position, Professor Shellenberger created (in 2007) and continues to direct the Law School’s Academic Core Enrichment (ACE) program.  This academic success program (also staffed by upper level students and other faculty) helps first year law students transition to legal studies and to develop successful learning and study skills.  Professor Shellenberger also works closely with the Office of Student Affairs to help individual students with their law school work and in preparing to pass the bar exam.  He served two years as Assistant Dean for Student Affairs (1987-89), and in that position was twice recognized by the law school student body as the Administrator of the Year.  Professor Shellenberger also served for three years as Director of the Temple Law School Writing Program (1991-93, 1995-96).

Outside the Law School, Professor Shellenberger is one of two Co-Reporters for the Model Criminal Jury Instruction Committee of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. In this capacity, he worked with the Committee for several years creating the Model Criminal Jury Instructions for criminal cases tried within the Trial Circuit’s district courts, and continues to make annual updates to and revisions of the instructions.  The Model Instructions are published on the Third Circuit’s web site and appear in book form, published by West Publishing Co.

Professor Shellenberger grew up in Bucks County, PA. He graduated from the Solebury School, in New Hope, and later served four terms on Solebury’s Board of Trustees. He graduated from Lafayette College in 1969 (BA, History; Honors in Studies) and Villanova University School of Law (magna cum laude) in 1972. At Villanova, he served as a Case and Comment Editor of the Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif.

Immediately after law school, Shellenberger prosecuted criminal cases as an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia (1972-77), including service as Chief of the Motions Unit. He then practiced in the litigation department of the Philadelphia firm Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis. Three years later, he moved to a position as Chief Staff Counsel for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Criminal Procedural Rules Committee. His initial teaching experience at Temple came in 1980-82 as a Legal Writing and Research Instructor, then as an adjunct professor teaching Criminal Procedure in Spring 1983, before starting as a full-time Assistant Professor of Law in Fall 1983.

Professor Shellenberger and his wife, Darlene Chan, live in Kunkletown, Pennsylvania, in the lower Pocono Mountains. During the work week, he has an apartment in Roxborough (Philadelphia).  He has two sons, a daughter, two grandchildren, a step-daughter, two step-sons, and numerous pets.


J.D., Villanova Law School
B.A., Lafayette College

Research & Teaching Areas

Areas of Expertise

Selected Publications

Publications and Media Appearances

Awards and Recognition

  • Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching (1996)
  • George P. Williams, III, Memorial Award for the Outstanding Professor of the Year (1986, 1995, 2004, 2007, 2019)
  • Administrator of the Year (1987-1988, 1988-1989)
  • Outstanding Faculty Service Award (2011)