CWC staff and volunteers

(CWC staff and volunteers)


Current Staff

Steve Drizin, Co-Director/Clinical Professor
Laura Nirider, Co-Director/Clinical Associate Professor
Andrea Lewis, Staff Attorney/Clinical Assistant Professor
Judy Royal, Staff Attorney/Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor
Sara Sommervold, Associate Director
Gregory Swygert, Staff Attorney/Clinical Associate Professor


Karen Daniel, Director Emerita
Rob Warden, Executive Director Emeritus

In Memoriam

Jane E. Raley, Co-Director
A. Sage Smith, Client Services Coordinator

Karen Daniel, Director Emerita

Karen DanielKaren Daniel was a member of the Center on Wrongful Convictions teaching faculty from 2000 to 2019, and she directed or co-directed the CWC from 2013 through 2018. Professor Daniel 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 the CWC she has represented over 20 clients in legal proceedings leading to their release from prison and/or exoneration, including in state and federal courts and in executive clemency proceedings. In September 2019 she was appointed Clinical Professor of Law Emerita. In this capacity Professor Daniel continues to represent clients and address criminal justice issues.

Steve Drizin, Co-Director

Steve DrizinSteven Drizin is a Clinical Professor at Northwestern Law where he has been on the faculty since 1991. 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.

Andrea Lewis, Staff Attorney and Women's Project Co-Director

Andrea Lewis

Andrea Lewis joined the Center on Wrongful Convictions in 2013. She served as Clinical Fellow for the Women's Project until September 2015, when she was appointed Clinical Assistant Professor of Law and became a permanent member of the Center's staff. Ms. Lewis’ research interests include the various factors contributing to women’s wrongful convictions, and she supports the Women’s Project’s mission to educate the public on these factors and on the issues that wrongfully convicted women face upon reentering society. Prior to working at the Center, Ms. Lewis was an associate in the Labor and Employment group 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 graduate of Northwestern University School of Law and a former Center on Wrongful Convictions student.

Judy Royal, Staff Attorney and Women's Project Co-Director

Judy Royal

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, Daniel Taylor, and Jason Strong. Ms. Royal is Co-Director of the Women’s Project of the Center on Wrongful Convictions.

Sara Sommervold, Associate Director

Sara Sommervold

Sara Sommervold joined the Center on Wrongful convictions in March 2014 as the Intake Attorney. She focuses on analyzing requests for representation, research, assisting with representation, and public events. Her research has focused on the issues and factors that contribute to the wrongful conviction of women. 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, Staff Attorney

Gregory Swygert

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 beginning in 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.

Rob Warden, Executive Director Emeritus

Rob Warden Executive Director Rob Warden is an award winning legal affairs journalist who, as editor and publisher of Chicago Lawyer magazine during the 1980s, 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. (He began his journalism career in 1960 at the Joplin Globe in Missouri, and worked as a reporter at the Columbia Tribune in Missouri and Kalamazoo Gazette in Michigan before joining the Daily News in 1965.) In 1989, Mr. Warden sold Chicago Lawyer to the Law Bulletin Publishing Company, which has continued to publish it. 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 and received the Thomas and Eleanor Wright Award from the Chicago Commission on Human Relations “for outstanding achievements in improving human relations.” In 2014, he received the Innocence Network’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2015, he received the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Promotion of Social Justice Award.

In Memoriam

In Memoriam: Our Beloved Jane Raley

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 has 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:

Rest in peace, our dear Jane.

In Memoriam: Sage Smith

Sage Smith In another sad loss for the Center on Wrongful Convictions, Sage Smith, our Client Services Coordinator since 2004, passed away on January 11, 2015, after an extended illness. Sage's contributions to our clients and to the community cannot be overstated, and he is greatly missed by all of us at the Center on Wrongful Convictions and the Bluhm Legal Clinic.

For more information about Sage's remarkable life:

Rest in peace, our warrior.