John J. Hanlon is the Executive Director and Legal Director of the Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS). As Legal Director, his primary duty is to locate and work on cases where there is a reasonable possibility that DNA testing will lead to the exoneration of a wrongfully convicted prisoner. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois College Of Law in the Criminal Law Program, with duties of instructing the Innocence Project Course.
At UIS, John has served as Adjunct Faculty for the Legal Studies and/or Criminal Justice departments since 2004. He presently teaches a class on Wrongful Convictions.
Previously, John was employed for many years by the Illinois State Appellate Defender's office in Springfield. During his years there, he worked almost exclusively on the appellate defense of death penalty cases, during which he represented 4 of the 21 wrongfully convicted individuals who were ultimately released to freedom from Illinois’ death row.
Mr. Hanlon was awarded, in May of 2002, the “Richard E. Cunningham Award” by the Illinois Public Defender Association, for “Distinguished Service as a Death Penalty Defense Advocate”.
Mr. Hanlon received his B.A. in History and Education in 1979 from the University of Illinois. He received his J.D. from Wake Forest University in 1983. He has guest lectured at numerous colleges and Universities across the state, and has presented at dozens of continuing legal education seminars.