A courageous defender in the courts, Tom Breen was a pioneer in using DNA evidence to exonerate the innocent. Breen defended Gary Dotson in 1987, which was the first time DNA evidence was used to exonerate an innocent man in Illinois; it was the second DNA-exoneration case in the nation.
Working with Northwestern University School of Law’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, Breen also helped clear a man who had twice been convicted and sentenced to death for a rape he did not commit. Mr. Breen’s work prompted a former Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney to reconsider one of his own cases, from his early years as a prosecutor. As a result, two innocent men were cleared and released from prison after Breen helped initiate a DNA review of their case.
On being named one of FDLA’s 20 for 20:
“It’s an honor to be recognized by the First Defenders, but it is the First Defenders who quietly bring individual rights to the most frightened and vulnerable.Â They are the first, and the most important lawyers in the criminal justice system.”Â Â Â —-Â Tom Breen
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