Bio: Andrea Lyon

Andrea Lyon - Hope’s Warrior

By Mike Morrissey
Director of Suburban Operations, Cook County Public Defender’s Office

For over thirty years Andrea Lyon has been a leader in the arena of criminal justice. Her dedication to the craft and cause of advocacy has placed her in the forefront of leading criminal defense lawyers.

As a trial lawyer and chief of the Cook County Public Defender Homicide Task Force, Andrea successfully waged war in the trial by combat courtrooms of the Chicago criminal courthouse. She exposed the unscrupulous tactics of law enforcement; she confronted judges who looked the other way; she fought for the lives and liberty of her clients.

Andrea became the last best hope for inmates on Illinois’ death row as the director of the Capital Case Post Conviction Office of the State Appellate Defender. She founded the division and worked tirelessly with staff attorneys and outside counsel. It was a job that led Andrea to become an outspoken critic of the legal machinery of death. She fought the death penalty in the courtrooms and in the court of public opinion. Probably surprising herself, she became a skilled politician and her work resulted in the Illinois moratorium on executions, the commutations of all Illinois death sentences, and the eventual repeal of the Illinois death penalty statute.

Throughout her career Andrea has always been a sought after speaker at national seminars. Combining her advocacy and educational skills, for the past several years Andrea has been a professor of law at DePaul University. Currently she is the director of clinical programs. Her work at DePaul insures that the next generation of lawyers are equipped and inspired to fight for justice.

The passion Andrea brings to her work is in part fueled by the belief that the Sixth Amendment guarantee of right to counsel must be vigorously asserted or it will be crushed by the weight of overzealous law and order advocates. The real source of her strength comes from her commitment to her clients - people whose lives are determined by poverty and the overwhelming problems of society. Andrea brings them hope. She carries them through the emotional nightmare of prosecution. She restores their dignity. For Andrea a legal victory means redemption for her client - the opportunity to live, another chance at liberty, the ability to restore a broken dream.

Andrea Lyon’s career as a trial lawyer, death penalty opponent and educator has been a source of inspiration for the entire Illinois criminal defense community. For her clients Andrea has been a courageous champion providing excellent representation and unconditional personal support.