James Stratman PhD
Associate Professor Emeritus
Department of Communication

Mailing Address:
Department of Communication
Campus Box 176
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364

Retired 2016


PhD, CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY, Rhetoric
MA, UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI, English Literature and Literary Criticism
BA, OHIO UNIVERSITY, Literature and Philosophy (dual major, cum laude)


James F. Stratman is an Associate Professor Emeritus in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado Denver (UCD).  He earned a Ph.D. in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University in 1988 and his dissertation, which was funded by the American Bar Foundation (ABF), investigated the brief reading, brief writing, and rhetorical decision making processes of actual appellate court advocates and appellate court clerks in a Pennsylvania Supreme Court strip mining case. Before coming to UCD (in 1990), he served for four years as Director of Management Communication in Carnegie Mellon's Graduate School of Industrial Administration. For twelve of his 25+ years at UCD he served as Director of the Master of Science degree program in Technical Communication, a program in which he taught all of the core courses and several electives as well. His ground-breaking legal case reading and case reasoning research was supported by two successive funding grants from the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC); in particular, this research used an experimental test design to assess how well first and third year law students comprehend and draw conclusions from legal cases, and based upon the results explored the effectiveness of law school instruction in this area.  

His recently published book (December 2015) -- A Forensic Linguistic Approach to Legal Disclosures (Routledge Studies in Linguistics Series) – investigates the issue of deceptive language in federally required pension reduction notices under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The book is primarily based upon a decade of professional experience serving as an expert witness for plaintiffs in ERISA class action lawsuits. His previously published disclosure comprehension research relating to ERISA has since been cited in two federal circuit court decisions. In connection with this expert forensic work he has appeared as a presenter at both the International Association of Forensic Linguists (IAFL) and the Law and Society Association (LSA) .

Stratman, J. (2015). A forensic linguistic approach to legal disclosures: ERISA cash balance conversion cases and the contextual dynamics of deception. New York: Routledge/Taylor-Francis, Studies in Linguistics Series, 202 pages.

Stratman, J. (2011). Expert Report on US Bank Cash Balance Conversion: ERISA Section 204(h) Notices, Summary Plan Description, and Precursor Documents in Mezyk et. al. v. U.S. Bank Pension Plan and U.S. Bank Corp. and Pellett et. al. v. U.S. Bank Pension Plan, CV-384-JPG-DGW. (42 pages).

Stratman, J. (2008). Expert Report on El Paso Corporation Cash Balance Conversion: ERISA Section 204(h) Notices, Summary Plan Description and Precursor Documents. In Tomlinson, et. al. v. El Paso Corporation and El Paso Pension Plan, CV-04-2686 (50 pages).

Evensen, D., Stratman, J., Oates, L. & Zappe, S. (2008). Developing an assessment of first year law students’ critical case reading and reasoning ability: Phase 2. Final Research Report for Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), 2008. With Professor D. Evensen, L. Oates, and S. Zappe (74 pages). Available at:  http://www.lsac.org/lsacresources/research/all/gr/gr-08-02

Stratman, J. (2004). How legal analysts negotiate indeterminacy of meaning in common law rules: Toward a synthesis of linguistic and cognitive approaches to investigation. Language & Communication 24(1), 23 - 57.

Stratman, J. (2003). Expert Report on AT&T Cash Balance Pension Summary Plan Description And Precursor Documents. In Engers, et al. v. AT&T and AT&T Management Pension Plan, CV-98-3660 (JLL) (48 pages).

Stratman, J. (2003). Expert Report on CIGNA Cash Balance Pension Plan Summary Documents and Precursor Documents. In Amara et. al. v. CIGNA Corporation and CIGNA Pension Plan, C.A. 01-2361 (36 pages).

Stratman, J. (2002). When law students read cases: Exploring relationships between professional legal reasoning roles and problem detection. Discourse Processes 34(1), 57 - 90.

Stratman, J. (2000). Readers’ perception of bias in public education documents: The case of ballot booklets. Written Communication, 17(4), 520 - 578.

Stratman, J. & Dahl, P. (1996). Readers' comprehension of temporary restraining orders in domestic violence cases:  A missing link in abuse prevention?  Forensic Linguistics, 3(2), 211 - 231.

Stratman, J. (1996). Legal rhetoric.  In T. Enos, (Ed.), Encyclopedia of rhetoric and composition: communication from ancient times to the information age (pp. 383 - 385). New York, NY: Garland Publishing, Inc.

Stratman, J. & Thacker, B. (1995). Transmuting common substances: The cold fusion controversy and the rhetoric of science. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 9(4), 389 - 424.

(*Winner, 1995 NCTE Award for Excellence in Technical and Scientific Communication, Best Article Reporting Historical Research or Textual Study.)

Stratman, J., Boykin, C., Holmes, M., Laufer, M. J., & Breen M. (1995). Risk communication, meta-communication and rhetorical stases in the Aspen-EPA Superfund controversy.  Journal of Business and Technical Communication 9(1), 5 – 41. (Paper honored in the 20th anniversary issue of JBTC (2006) as one of the top six articles published in JBTC during that period).

Stratman, J. (1994). Investigating persuasive processes in legal discourse in real-time: Cognitive biases and rhetorical choices in briefs. Discourse Processes 17(1), 1 - 57.

Stratman, J. & Hamp-Lyons, L. (1992). Reactivity in concurrent think-aloud protocols: Issues for research.  In P. Smagorinsky (Ed.), Speaking about writing: Reflections on research methodology. (pp. 89 – 112). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Stratman, J. (1992). Teaching lawyers to revise legal documents: A role for reader protocols. Legal Writing 1(1), 35 - 78.

Stratman, J. (1990). The emergence of legal composition as a field of inquiry: Evaluating the prospects.  Review of Educational Research, 60(2), 153 - 235.

Stratman, J. (1990). Adversarial and scholarly theories of the appellate court brief: Implications for appeal court judges and their staff attorneys as audiences.  In D. Roen & G. Kirsch (Eds.), A sense of audience in written communication (pp. 115 - 139). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

Stratman, J. (1988). Contract disclaimers in ERISA summary plans: A deceptive practice? Industrial Relations Law Journal, 10(3), 350 - 380.  *Since publication, this research has been cited in two Federal circuit court decisions: Alexander v. Primerica Holdings, Inc., 967 F.2d 90, 93 (3rd Cir. 1992), and in Chiles v. Ceridian Corp., 95 F.3d. 1505, 1518-19 (10th Cir. 1996). 

Flower, L., Hayes, J., Schriver, K., Stratman, J., & Carey, L. (1987). Cognitive processes in revision.  In S. Rosenberg (Ed.), Advances in applied linguistics, volume II: Reading, writing and language processing (pp. 176 – 240). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. 

Flower. L. Hayes, J., Schriver, K., Stratman, J., & Carey, L. (1986). Detection, diagnosis, and the strategies of revision. College Composition and Communication 37, 16 - 55. *Winner, 1987, Braddock Memorial Award from the Conference on College Composition and Communication.

Stratman, J. (1982). Teaching written argument: The significance of Toulmin's layout for sentence-combining. College English, 44(7), 718 - 733.

COMM 3120: Technical Writing

COMM 4510/5510: Usability Testing

COMM 5505: Technical Editing

COMM 4405/5405: Technical Communication: Writing

COMM 4605/5605: Rhetorical Theory for Technical Communication

COMM 4620/5620: Health Risk Communication

COMM 4681/5681: Communication Issues in the Trial Court Process

COMM 4750/5750: Legal Reasoning and Writing

COMM 6205: Empirical Research Methods in Communication