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Andrea Lyon
Andrea D. Lyon, author of Angel of Death Row: My Life as a Death Penalty Defense Lawyer, is the Dean of Valparaiso University Law School. Previously she wasa Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Center for Justice in Capital Cases, and Associate Dean for Clinical Programs at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, and before that she was an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Michigan Law School. . She began her career at the cook County Public Defender's Office, working her way up to Chief of the Homicide Task Force, a 22-lawyer unit that represents people accused of homicide. Lyon has tried more than 130 homicide cases, both within the public defender's office and elsewhere. She has defended more than 40 potential capital cases at the trial level. Of these, she has taken 19 through the penalty phase, and won them all. For more information please visit

Entries by Andrea Lyon

Lost in Translation: The Hammond, Indiana, Police Brutality Case

(224) Comments | Posted October 15, 2014 | 9:56 AM

During a stop for what should have been a routine seatbelt ticket, things turned violent. On September 24, 2014, midafternoon, Hammond police pulled over Lisa Mahone because she and Jamal Jones, who was riding in the front passenger seat, were not wearing seatbelts as required by state law,...

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Prosecutorial Misconduct and the "P" word

(3) Comments | Posted September 8, 2014 | 4:35 PM

Henry McCollum and Leon Brown spent three decades behind bars for a 1983 rape and murder they did not commit. As chronicled this week in the New York Times, those "two convictions were obtained on the basis of inconsistent, soon recanted, confessions from two mentally impaired teenagers who...

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Incursion: Effects of Militarization of the Police in the United States

(1) Comments | Posted August 21, 2014 | 6:13 PM

The tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri have brought to the nation's attention a number of issues, not the least of which is the militarization of our domestic police force.

While I am certainly not alone in the opinion that arming...

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Sensible Drug Sentencing Reform

(0) Comments | Posted July 24, 2014 | 3:08 PM

I have written before about the prison industrial complex and the failed war on drugs. I do not intend to repeat those arguments, but rather to applaud the acknowledgement this week by the bipartisan United States Sentencing Commission that our tough drug...

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Through the Looking Glass

(4) Comments | Posted July 25, 2013 | 6:04 PM

The prosecution didn't understand what they faced when they prosecuted George Zimmerman. Please don't misunderstand me; I am not saying they were incompetent. Far from it. They are just used to being on the side of the case where the prejudices work for them.

As our country is trying...

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The Boiler Room

(2) Comments | Posted May 1, 2013 | 4:20 PM

By now many people know of the shameful legacy of police torture here in Chicago. Thus far only one of the perpetrators, Jon Burge, has been held to account. Recently, a Court of Inquiry in Texas found probable cause to arrest former prosecutor for deliberately hiding exculpatory evidence...

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Blind Justice

(17) Comments | Posted February 22, 2013 | 9:40 AM

The state of Texas is seeking to execute Andre Thomas, a Texas death row inmate who hears voices, has gouged out both his eyes, first one and then some years later the other -- which he ate. Mr. Thomas is currently awaiting a ruling that will pave the way for...

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Election Protection 2012

(1) Comments | Posted November 13, 2012 | 3:38 PM

On Tuesday November 6, 2012 I did what many supporters of President Obama did; election protection. We were sent mostly to battleground states (if we weren't already living in one) to make sure the rules were followed and every voter got to vote. It may not sound glamorous, but I...

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Dying to Win

(3) Comments | Posted October 11, 2012 | 12:55 PM

On September 28, 2012 Judge Sarmina granted a stay of execution for Terry William in Pennsylvania. In doing so she found that the prosecution had known that the man Williams was sentenced to death for killing had been sexually abusing him. In fact the deceased had a provable...

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Undue Burden

(7) Comments | Posted July 18, 2012 | 3:49 PM

Monday, July 23 2012, Warren Hill is scheduled to be executed in Georgia. He was convicted of killing another inmate while serving a life sentence for killing his girlfriend, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This is despite the fact that Warren Hill is mentally retarded. Georgia...

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Perspective Is Everything

(9) Comments | Posted April 5, 2012 | 4:43 PM

A lot has been written about the Trayvon Martin killing, George Zimmerman, the "stand your ground" laws and the intersection between race and the criminal justice system. Believe me, race is a big part of what happens in the criminal justice system, what color you are is an enormous determinative...

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Texas Court of Inquiry Into Prosecutorial Misconduct Is Big News

(7) Comments | Posted February 21, 2012 | 5:33 PM

In Texas, something unusual is happening. A special investigation, headed by a judge, has been convened to decide whether former prosecutor Ken Anders, who is now a judge, hid evidence in a trial in which William Morton was wrongly convicted of his wife's murder and sent to prison...

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Victims Support Death Penalty Repeal in Connecticut

(9) Comments | Posted February 9, 2012 | 2:20 PM

A recent study by former Yale Law School Professor Donohue has shown that the death penalty is given in Connecticut far more based on race and location of the victim than any other factor. "There is no way to distinguish the few that are singled out for death...

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For-Profit Criminal Prosecutions

(7) Comments | Posted January 13, 2012 | 12:46 PM

In a court in Ft. Lauderdale, a beleaguered, hard working and assiduous Assistant Chief Public Defender Gordon Weekes Jr. filed motions to dismiss six criminal cases because, he argued in a motion filed for one case last week, arrests made by deputies during episodes of the TLC/Discovery Channel

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Sometimes the Other Person Has a Point

(6) Comments | Posted November 29, 2011 | 12:32 PM

This weekend, the New York Times magazine published an article chronicling prosecutors' resistance to changing their minds. It told the story of Juan Rivera, among others, where DNA exonerated both men, but the prosecution chose to go forward anyway, in Rivera's case -- arguing if you can...

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Brilliance and Humanity

(0) Comments | Posted October 27, 2011 | 11:31 AM

What happens when judges who interpret the laws of the land face criticism from people who feel wronged by those interpretations? Is the effectiveness of judges premised on the notion that they will not face retaliation for judicial acts? Issues of judicial independence like these were what we all explored...

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Reversal of Spin

(4) Comments | Posted October 6, 2011 | 12:44 PM

Much has already been written about the reversal of Amanda Knox's murder conviction in Italy on Monday. There certainly is reason to be interested -- the Italian legal system is, after all, so different from our own. An appeal here in the United States from a conviction does...

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The Clock Is Ticking

(0) Comments | Posted September 19, 2011 | 10:19 PM

In two days, unless the parole board acts, Troy Davis will be executed.

This case has garnered a huge amount of attention, and millions of people are worried that an innocent man will be executed. According to the Davis supporters, nearly a million people...

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Hypocrisy, Vice-Presidential Style

(0) Comments | Posted August 30, 2011 | 2:30 PM

In the process of promoting his book, former Vice President Dick Cheney has said that he supports waterboarding of suspects, just as long as they are not American.

Really? It is exactly this kind of thinking that allows police officers to feel it is okay to torture...

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Whose Prosecution Is it Anyway?

(13) Comments | Posted August 10, 2011 | 11:53 AM

There is a battle for state's rights in an unusual locale -- Rhode Island. It has to do with a man, Jason Pleau, who is charged with murder for gunning down a gas station manager outside a Woonsocket bank in that state. At issue is this; Rhode Island...

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