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May 9, 2014

Celebrating Rob Warden’s Extraordinary Work

by Dan Rodriguez

Many of you know Rob Warden. As Executive Director of the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, which he co-founded in the late 1990s, he has been immensely important in nationwide efforts to free the wrongfully convicted. His is a storied career, and one we will celebrate at a special symposium this afternoon: “Champion of Justice: A Symposium to Celebrate Rob Warden’s Quest to Free the Innocent.”

Under his leadership, the Center on Wrongful Convictions (CWC) has been instrumental in bringing about more than 40 individual exonerations. The CWC played a major role in Governor Ryan’s 2003 declaration of a moratorium on executions in Illinois, and his decision to commute all Illinois death sentences, which he announced in our own Lincoln Hall in January 2003. The Center is also co-creator of the National Registry of Exonerations, a database which provides detailed information on the more than 2,000 exonerations in the United States since 1989. 2011-2012 was an historic year. In just a few short months, the CWC played an important role in eleven exonerations—the largest number of exonerations in any three-month period since the innocence movement began. No doubt this work heavily influenced Governor Quinn’s (JD ’80) 2011 decision to abolish the death penalty in Illinois.

The event is co-hosted by the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, and features a remarkable lineup—notably, Barry Scheck will give the keynote.

I hope you can join us this afternoon for what is certain to be a noteworthy event.

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