Jane E. Raley


Maurer School of Law Academy of Law Alumni Fellows (2018)
Indiana University Bloomington
Maurer School of Law
J.D. 1982
Maurer School of Law Distinguished Service Award (2007)
Indiana University Bloomington
J.D., 1982


Before her death in 2014, Jane E. Raley devoted her legal career to representing the poor. An experienced criminal defense attorney, Raley worked at the Office of the State Appellate Defender for 15 years representing indigent felony defendants on appeal. She handled hundreds of appeals, winning reversals in appellate courts throughout Illinois and in the Illinois Supreme Court.

She served as an assistant clinical professor of law at Northwestern and as senior staff attorney at the Bluhm Legal Clinic's Center on Wrongful Convictions. The Center's mission is to identify and rectify wrongful convictions, raise public awareness of the prevalence, causes, and social cost of wrongful convictions, and to promote substantive reform of the criminal justice system. Some of her cases garnered national media attention, including A&E's "Countdown to an Execution." The documentary told the story of Darnell Williams, an Indiana death-row inmate whose sentence was commuted to natural life by Governor Joseph Kernan. It was the first clemency granted by an Indiana governor in 50 years.

Her legacy lives on through her exceptional work with Northwestern University Law School's Center on Wrongful Convictions, where she served as co-director for 14 years. Raley helped overturn 12 convictions of innocent women and men. One of them, Juan Rivera, was released from prison after nearly 20 years after DNA evidence proved his innocence. She will most be remembered for her tireless commitment to justice and for mentoring countless students and young attorneys who have followed in her path.