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Barry Scheck
Co-Founder, The Innocence Project
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Barry Scheck
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Attorney, DNA expert, and co-founder of The Innocence Project Barry Scheck is known for years of landmark litigation that set the standards for using DNA evidence in courts throughout the country. He has spearheaded a nationwide movement to re-examine the fairness and efficacy of our criminal justice system.

The Innocence Project started in 1992, a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to reforming the criminal justice system to prevent injustice. Scheck and the organization have used DNA evidence to exonerate almost 300 wrongfully imprisoned people, many of whom were on death row or had been incarcerated for decades. Scheck and and his work with The Innocence Project were the basis for the TV drama The Divide.

In Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution and Other Dispatches from the Wrongly Convicted, Scheck exposed the mishandled evidence and coercive interrogations that plague the legal process. Publisher’s Weekly called the book “an alarming wake-up call.”

In October 2010 Scheck and The Innocence Project were featured in the feature film Conviction. The film retold the true story of a Betty Anne Waters (played by Hilary Swank) and her quest to free her innocent brother from prison. After putting herself through college and law school, Waters joined with the Innocence Project to seek the DNA testing that would free her brother. Peter Gallagher played the role of Scheck.

A DNA expert with the O.J. Simpson defense team, Scheck has represented notable clients including Hedda Nussbaum, Louise Woodward and Abner Louima. More recently, Scheck served as counsel to wrongly accused Duke University lacrosse player Reade Seligmann in a civil lawsuit filed against the city of Durham, North Carolina. He has covered the Oklahoma City bombing and other trials for NBC News.

A Commissioner for the New York State Forensic Science Review Board and Professor at the Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, Scheck is considered to be on the of 100 most influential lawyers in America. His honors include the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Robert C. Heeney Award for recognition of outstanding contributions, and the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers—Thurgood Marshall Award.

Full Bio >
  • Scheck on Fighting Wrongful Conviction (2012)
  • Barry Scheck talks to Big Think about why some jurisdictions are more likely to wrongfully convict
  • Barry Scheck talks to Big Think about overturning wrongful convictions
  • Barry Scheck on The Colbert Report (2006)
  • Conviction: Official trailer (2010)
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Speaking Topics
The Innocence Project: DNA & the Wrongly Convicted
Genetics & Privacy
Actual Innocence & the Death Penalty
Media Coverage of the Criminal Justice System
Special Programs: Available for debates.
Books & Other Works
  • Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution and Other Dispatches from the Wrongly Convicted
“He concluded the series for the year, his information was so powerful, what a remarkable man...he was brilliant.”
Grand Rapids Community College
“The program was fantastic and a big success. The Dean said it was the best speaker program we have had at the school since he has been here.”
Dickinson School of Law of the Penn State University
“The capacity audience was an indication of your stature, and, as you can tell, our community was looking forward to your presentation. The discussion about capital punishment and your personal views provided insights that have not been explored by previous speakers. You certainly "won" the audience over that evening with your humor and intellect.”
The Dowmel Foundation
“The debate with Barry Scheck and Susan Estrich was great! They were both delightful and easy to work with. Many compliments rolling in.”
Amarillo College
“A brilliant mind...”
Southwestern University
“The program was a huge success. We had the largest attendance since Dr. Ruth was here several years ago. We also got some wonderful compliments from students, faculty and staff. The Bookstore was sold out of every single copy of his book (they had ordered several cases) and people were special ordering more copies. Mr. Scheck was a pleasure to work with.”
University of Colorado at Denver
“He's extremely charismatic, personable and knowledgeable.”
University of Rhode Island
Civic Engagement
Death Penalty
Social Justice
Supreme Court