2019 Network Awards

Karen Daniel

2019 Champion of Justice Award

Karen L. Daniel graduated from Harvard Law School in 1981 and devoted her legal career to indigent criminal defense and legal education. She started as a staff attorney for the Illinois Office of the State Appellate Defender, where she handled hundreds of criminal appeals and became a supervisor.

Karen joined the Center on Wrongful Convictions in 2000 and served on Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s clinical faculty until 2019, when she retired and was named Clinical Professor of Law Emerita. During her time at the CWC Karen helped exonerate more than 20 clients, taught a generation of clinical law students, and spoke widely to outside groups and the media about causes of wrongful convictions.

In 2012 Karen co-founded the CWC’s Women’s Project, the first and only legal project focused on wrongfully convicted women. From 2013 to 2018 she co-directed and then solely directed the CWC. In that capacity she worked closely with the CWC’s Advisory Board and Justice Council to broaden the CWC’s reach and achieve its goals. Karen served for five years on the Executive Board of the Innocence Network, an international affiliation of innocence-focused legal organizations.

Maddy deLone

Ever Better Award

Maddy deLone has been a central figure in the Innocence Network since its foundation; she is one of the main reason it is what it is today. When Maddy became Executive Director of the Innocence Project in 2004, the Innocence Network was still organizing through an ad hoc steering committee. When the Network formally constituted itself a year later, she was there as a founding member of the Executive Board. She has been a member of the Board, and a voice of vision and reason on the Board, ever since. Based on her belief that the success of the Network and each of its member organizations was essential to the fulfillment of the Innocence Project’s and the Network’s shared mission, Maddy actively worked to ensure the Network’s viability. While she worked to vastly expand the size and impact of the Innocence Project, she simultaneously worked to build the Network from a wholly volunteer organization to the fully staffed and highly professional organization it is today, ensuring each step of the way that the successes and influence of the Innocence Project redounded to the benefit of the Network as a whole. When continued funding for the Network Support Unit was in doubt, for example, she stepped in and offered a home for the Network staff and agreed to take on responsibility for ensuring stable funding for the Network. To protect the brand name for the benefit of all Network members, she licensed the name “Innocence Project” and made it available to all Innocence Network member organizations upon one condition—that they remain members in good standing of the Network. Day in and day out she advised and encouraged Network members. It is not overstating it to say that, to a large extent, the Innocence Network is her legacy. And it is a legacy that reflects that, in all things, Maddy was guided by the principle of “ever better”—for all of us.

Brian Dugger

2019 Innocence Network Journalism Award

Brian Dugger is an investigative reporter for WTOL 11, using what he learned from a line of talented Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists while working at the Toledo Blade for more than 20 years.

During his first year at WTOL, Brian conducted a months-long investigation into the wrongful conviction claims of two inmates. His investigation resulted in two key witnesses recanting, on camera, their original stories to police. The case also revealed the wide-disparity in appointed counsel ”caps”  between counties. As a result of his story, multiple counties adjusted their schedules. He also received multiple awards for his coverage of residents’ battles with a nuisance landfall, a cold case involving the disappearance of a single mother on a cruise, and the dangers of pedicle screws in spinal surgeries. At The Blade, he investigated a potential cancer cluster and uncovered the history of a veteran’s ashes abandoned in a storage unit. As a result, the ashes were buried with honors and after a community parade to the cemetery. He was also an editorial board member, where he wrote extensively about the opioid epidemic and championed the need for universal preschool. Journalism has been a passion for him since learning to read by poring over newspaper stories about his beloved Cleveland Indians as a child. He graduated from Bowling Green State University after interning at the BG News and El Pais in Madrid. Some may consider Toledo, Ohio, a small market, but there are always personal stories to tell and politicians who will need to be held accountable for their actions. To see “Guilty Without Proof,” please see here. 




Due to concerns around the coronavirus (COVID-19), and in accordance with health guidance from the CDC and WHO, we regret to inform you that the 2020 Innocence Network Conference, scheduled to take place at the Hyatt Regency Chicago March 27-28, has been cancelled. 


We know how much this gathering means to all of us, and a tremendous amount of thought and preparation has gone into planning the event. Deciding to cancel this year’s conference was an incredibly difficult decision that we have agonized over at length. However, the health and safety of our community is of the utmost importance and we are operating out of an abundance of caution. We are so very sorry for the disappointment that we know this announcement will cause. 


All conference registrations will be cancelled by the Network Support Unit and registration fees will all be refunded automatically. Once your registration is cancelled, you will receive an email confirming that it’s been done and any fees refunded. Currently, all tickets have been cancelled and all refunds have been processed. Please reach out to the Network Support Unit if otherwise. 


 We urge you to cancel your hotel rooms directly through the Hyatt Regency in Chicago and request a flight change/refund at your earliest convenience. Hotel and flight reservations must be cancelled directly by you; the Network Support Unit cannot cancel these on your behalf. Please keep an eye on our website for any additional information and please feel free to reach out with any specific questions or concerns. Though I know how tough it will be to not be together at the conference this year, my hope is that it will make next year’s conference (April 16-17, 2021 in Phoenix, AZ) all the more special.


Please note that the NACDL conference, taking place on Thursday, March 26, has also been cancelled. For more information regarding this, please visit the NACDL website. For specific questions in concerns pertaining NACDL, please connect with Vanessa Antoun. 

#INConf2019 Highlights on Twitter

In 2019…

More than


including over


participated in

sessions & workshops.

The 2019 Innocence Network Conference took place on April 12-13 in Atlanta, GA.

Over 950 guests attended, including exonerees, exonerees’ family and friends, staff from Innocence Network member organizations, students, public interest lawyers and others.

2019 Sessions & Speakers

Click here to read about the sessions and speakers featured at the 2019 Conference.

2019 Conference Venue

This year our conference venue was the Westin Peachtree Plaza. Click here to check out the hotel!

The annual Innocence Network Conference is a national event that brings together members of the innocence movement and others for two days of powerful plenary and breakout sessions. The theme of this year’s conference was The Presumption of Innocence and featured a keynote presentation by the Central Park 5 and actress Niecy Nash, moderated by Karol Mason, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

A sneak peek of pictures from the 2019 conference

gI_81256_Topi-logo Looking for 2019 conference session materials and information? Head over to our topi page where you can access that and much more!