Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wrongfully Convicted Man, Now a Paralegal, Appointed to Prison Board

Illinois paralegal Wilder “Ken” Berry has gone from experiencing prison firsthand, as the victim of a wrongful conviction, to now being appointed by Governor Quinn to the Adult Advisory Board of the Illinois Department of Corrections.

In a 2004 article by The Chicago Tribune, Berry is described as a well-respected paralegal for Winston & Strawn, the same firm that helped him win a new trial “after serving more than eight years in prison for a sexual assault that the evidence shows he did not commit.”

Since his release and employment at Winston, Berry has won awards for working pro bono--without charge--from the Center for Disability and Elder Law, the Northern District of Illinois Federal Bar Association and from the law firm itself.

His work was cited by the Federal Bar Association for playing an important role in helping a former inmate at the Cook County Jail obtain a $175,000 damage award against the county because guards failed to protect the inmate from violence from other inmates.

Per the Northwestern Law Center on Wrongful Convictions, Berry’s request for a pardon was denied in 2006 by former Governor Rod Blagojevich, “a former prosecutor unsympathetic to such requests” but his police and court records have since been expunged.

Congratulations to Berry, not only for his prestigious appointment to the advisory board, but for his contributions to the legal field and for his emphasis on the importance of pro bono work.

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