Center on Wrongful Convictions
CWC client featured in Making a Murderer
The Netflix ten-part documentary series, Making a Murderer, is receiving rave reviews, with comparisons to such recent classic true crime dramas as The Jinx and Serial. The story centers on the “truth is stranger than fiction” tale of Steven Avery, who spent 18 years behind bars for rape before DNA testing exonerated him in 2003. A few years later, and after he filed a lawsuit against local authorities in Wisconsin, Avery became the chief suspect in the disappearance of a female photographer. Avery was eventually convicted of her murder and he is now once again in prison. Center on Wrongful Convictions attorneys Steve Drizin and Laura Nirider are featured prominently in Episode 10 of the series, which contains courtroom footage of their efforts to win a new trial for Avery’s 16-year-old nephew, Brendan Dassey, who was convicted as Avery’s accomplice. Bluhm Legal Clinic Director Thomas Geraghty also makes a courtroom cameo conducting a cross-examination.
The friendship of two CWC clients is front-page news
Dana Holland and Christopher Coleman shared more than a cell in prison; they shared claims of innocence and dreams of freedom. Eventually, they also shared an attorney: Karen Daniel, now Director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions. Chicago Tribune investigative reporter Steve Mills details their friendship and their eventual exonerations, a decade apart, in this incredible story: Innocent prisoners jailed in same call forge friendship, and freedom.
Daniel Andersen is officially declared innocent
On December 18, 2015, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Alfredo Maldonado granted our client Daniel Andersen a certificate of innocence: a judicial certification that he is actually innocent of the crime for which he spent 27.5 years in prison. More...
A huge thank-you to all who attended our benefit in celebration of Jane Raley! Photos will be available soon.
Jason Strong goes home after 15 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit
Jason Strong was released from Menard Correctional Center on May 28, 2015, after 15 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit. His release came after the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim that agreed they had no objection to the granting of Strong’s federal habeas petition. More...
In Memoriam: Our Beloved Jane Raley
It is with the greatest sadness that we announce the passing of Co-Director Jane Raley, a member of our legal staff since 2000 and truly the heart of the Center on Wrongful Convictions. She died peacefully at home on Christmas morning 2014, surrounded by her loving family.
The cause of criminal justice lost one of our greatest and most compassionate warriors. Jane was an incredible lawyer, a tenacious advocate for her clients, a revered mentor of law students and young lawyers, and an exceptionally loving and caring person. All who knew her will miss her beyond measure. Many innocent men and women are free from their convictions due to Jane’s work, and many young lawyers are out doing good in the world—and understand the good that attorneys can accomplish—due to Jane’s magnificent example during her 14 years as a law professor at Northwestern University School of Law.
A sampling of online tributes to Jane:
- Chicago Tribune obituary
- Chicago Daily Law Bulletin obituary
- NPR "All Things Considered" radio story
- Jeanne Bishop's Huffington Post reflection
- Daily Northwestern story
Rest in peace, our dear Jane.
(In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in her memory to the Jane Raley Memorial Fund at Northwestern University School of Law. Please contact email@example.com for more information.)