Karen Daniel, Co-Director
Steve Drizin, Staff Attorney
Dolores Kennedy, Intern Coordinator
Andrea Lewis, Clinical Fellow
Jennifer Linzer, Assistant Director
Jane E. Raley, Co-Director
Judy Royal, Staff Attorney
A. Sage Smith, Client Services Coordinator
Sara Sommervold, Intake Attorney
Gregory Swygert, Staff Attorney
Rob Warden, Executive Director, Emeritus
Karen L. Daniel joined the Center on Wrongful Convictions in 2000. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and a former supervising attorney at the Illinois Office of the State Appellate Defender. During her tenure at Northwestern Law, Ms. Daniel has successfully represented numerous clients in state and federal court proceedings and before the Governor’s clemency board, achieving exonerations in both DNA and non-DNA cases. She also serves as Clinical Professor of Law and directs Center on Wrongful Convictions Women's Project. Her clients have included Michael Evans, exonerated of murder and child rape after serving 27 years in prison; Dana Holland, the victim of two separate wrongful convictions; former death row inmate Randy Steidl; Julie Rea Harper, acquitted on retrial of the murder of her beloved son; Robert Wilson, whose accuser recanted her identification of Wilson after a federal judge granted him a new trial; Alan Beaman, a college student whose wrongful conviction of his girlfriend was overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court; Maurice Patterson, freed after serving 8 years for a murder he did not commit; Kristine Bunch, an Indiana resident whose wrongful conviction of murdering her son resulted from bad fire science evidence; Daniel Taylor, who was falsely accused of a double murder at age 17 despite being in police custody at the time of the crime; and Christopher Coleman, who spent more than 19 years in prison before the the Illinois Supreme Court overturned his conviction based on new evidence of innocence.
Steven Drizin is a Clinical Professor at Northwestern Law School where he has been on the faculty since 1991. He is also the Assistant Dean of the Bluhm Legal Clinic, and since March 2004, he has been a member of the Center on Wrongful Convictions. At the Center, Professor Drizin's research interests involve the study of false confessions, and his policy work focuses on supporting efforts around the country to require law enforcement agencies to electronically record custodial interrogations.
Dolores Kennedy supervises the undergraduate intern/volunteer program at the Center on Wrongful Convictions. When she joined the Center in 2005, her primary responsibility was the organization of materials for a database, now known as the National Registry of Exonerations. In addition, she created a program designed to teach undergraduate students, both from Northwestern and other universities around the country (and, on occasion, the UK), about the causes and effects of wrongful convictions.
Prior to coming to the Center, Ms. Kennedy managed a law firm in Chicago. A graduate of the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, she was a newspaper reporter for many years. In 1985 she met William Heirens, incarcerated for 66 years before his recent death, and began to advocate for his release. This led to the publication of her first book, William Heirens: His Day in Court, and, the following year, On a Killing Day: The Bizarre Story of Convicted Murderer Aileen 'Lee' Wuornos.
In the late 1990s, Ms. Kennedy was a member of the steering committee for the National Conference on Wrongful Convictions and the Death Penalty, which led to the formation of the Center on Wrongful Convictions.
Andrea Lewis joined the Center on Wrongful Convictions in October 2013 as a Clinical Fellow. She focuses on the Women’s Project, assisting in the representation of incarcerated women with claims of actual innocence, research, and public education efforts. Prior to joining the Women’s Project, Ms Lewis was an associate in the Labor and Employment practice area at Vedder Price P.C. in Chicago, where she represented clients in state and federal matters as well as working on pro bono projects. Ms. Lewis is a 2011 graduate of Northwestern University School of Law and a former Center on Wrongful Convictions student.
Assistant Director Jennifer Linzer began her association with the Center as a volunteer in January 2001 and became the Assistant Director the following August. Her duties include various duties related to the Center's day-to-day operations.
Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Linzer worked as a freelance writer and photographer for 10 years. Her clients included various departments of Northwestern University, the Robert Lurie Cancer Center, Barat College, Lewis University, College of Lake County, and Time Life Books, where she researched and wrote the first draft of Paying For College, part of the series Your Money Matters.
Jane Raley represented hundreds of indigent felony defendants as an assistant Illinois appellate defender from 1982 until 1997, winning reversals in appellate courts throughout the state and in the Illinois Supreme Court.
From 1990 to 1994, Ms. Raley's practice was devoted entirely to capital cases at the Illinois Appellate Defender's Capital Resource Center, where, in addition to litigating cases herself, she recruited and trained attorneys to work on death penalty appeals in post-conviction and federal habeas proceedings. Ms. Raley's significant capital cases included those of Robert Kubat, whose death sentence was overturned in a federal habeas corpus proceeding, and Alejandro Hernandez, who was sentenced to death along with Rolando Cruz for a highly publicized DuPage County murder they did not commit.
Since joining the Center on Wrongful Convictions in 2000, Ms. Raley has successfully represented numerous clients with innocence claims in state and federal courts.
Ms. Raley decided to devote her career to public interest law after interning at a public defender's office while a student at Indiana University School of Law, from which she graduated in 1982.
Judy Royal has been a staff attorney of the Center on Wrongful Convictions since 2002. A 1981 graduate of Northwestern University School of Law, Ms. Royal has been involved in the Center’s public education efforts as well as assisting in the representation of Center clients. The more significant cases she has worked on at the CWC include the exonerations of Julie Rea, Maurice Patterson, Jacques Rivera, Juan Rivera and, most recently, Daniel Taylor. Ms. Royal is Co-Director of the recently launched Women’s Project of the Center on Wrongful Convictions.
A. Sage Smith, the Center's coordinator of client services, was previously incarcerated. During his incarceration, Mr. Smith earned an associate degree in sociology from Lewis University and a paralegal certificate from Rend Lake Junior College.
In prison, Mr. Smith served for eight years as coordinator of legal services at Stateville Correctional Center and seven years as the law clerk for prisoners on death row at Menard Correctional Center.
After his release in May 2003, Mr. Smith received a Humanitarian Award from the Illinois Coalition Against the Death Penalty (ICADP) "for his enormous assistance to death row inmates." From his release until he joined the Center in January 2004, he was employed as a paralegal at the Illinois Institute for Community Law.
Mr. Smith is a member of the advisory boards of the John Howard Association, Positive Anti-Crime Thrust (PACT), and the ICADP. He also is a member of the Governor's Task Force on Re-Entry, a program under the auspices of the Illinois Department of Human Services.
Sara Sommervold joined the Center on Wrongful convictions in March 2014 as the Intake Attorney. She focuses on analyzing requests for representation, research, case support, and public events. She is a 2013 graduate of the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, MN, where she was a student attorney in the first federal commutations clinic in the United States. Ms. Sommervold comes to the CWC after clerking for public defenders in Cook County, IL, and Washington County, MN.
Gregory Swygert is a Staff Attorney at the CWC. He supervises second and third-year law students in the representation of criminal defendants in various stages of post-conviction proceedings (including direct appeal, state post-conviction, DNA and fingerprint testing, federal habeas, executive clemency, and expungement), focusing on the CWC's mission of identifying and rectifying wrongful convictions and other miscarriages of justice. Prior to joining the CWC, he co-founded and served as partner at Ryan & Swygert since 2012, specializing in criminal defense and commercial litigation. Prior to his time at his firm, Mr. Swygert was a staff attorney for Illinois’ Office of the State Appellate Defender’s Capital Post-Conviction Unit, a unit dedicated to representing individuals on Death Row during their state post-conviction appeals. Before joining the Office of the State Appellate Defender, Mr. Swygert practiced as a plaintiffs’ civil rights attorney at the law firm of Loevy & Loevy in Chicago where he represented numerous plaintiffs in a 1983 civil rights lawsuits and the federal court-appointed administrator of Cook County’s Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. Upon graduating from Northwestern School of Law where he actively participated in Northwestern’s Center on Wrongful Convictions Clinic, Mr. Swygert joined the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana in New Orleans where he defended Louisiana’s death row inmates during their state post-conviction and federal habeas corpus appeals. Mr. Swygert also was a two-year law clerk for the Honorable Arthur J. Tarnow of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit, Michigan.
Executive Director Rob Warden is an award winning legal affairs journalist who, as editor and publisher of Chicago Lawyer magazine during the 1980's, exposed more than a score of wrongful convictions in Illinois, including cases in which six innocent men had been sentenced to death.
Before founding Chicago Lawyer in 1978, Mr. Warden was an investigative reporter, foreign correspondent, and editor at the Chicago Daily News. In 1989, Mr. Warden sold Chicago Lawyer to the Law Bulletin Publishing Company, which has continued to publish it. After that, before co-founding the Center on Wrongful Convictions with Professor Lawrence C. Marshall in 1999, he worked as a political issues consultant, executive officer of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, and consultant to various law firms and the litigation department of General Electric Medical Systems.
Mr. Warden has won more than fifty journalism awards, including the Medill School of Journalism's John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Journalism, two American Civil Liberties Union James McGuire Awards, five Peter Lisagor Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Norval Morris Award from the Illinois Academy of Criminology. In 2003, he was inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame.