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Criminal defense attorney Barry Scheck became famous in the '90s sitting at the defense table for O.J. Simpson. These days he's a law professor and runs the convict-clearing Innocence Project along with Peter Neufeld.


Bushy-haired Queens native Scheck spent his days at Yale protesting the war in Vietnam, and joined the Legal Aid Society in the Bronx after graduating from Berkeley Law. (It was at Legal Aid that he met his future partner, Peter Neufeld.) In the '80s, Scheck began teaching at Cardozo and maintained a criminal defense practice with Neufeld on the side, representing people like Hedda Nussbaum, whose husband Joel Steinberg was convicted of killing their daughter. (Scheck prevented the battered Nussbaum from also being charged in the case.)

Recognizing how scientific evidence like DNA would impact the practice of criminal law, in 1992 Scheck and Neufeld founded the Innocence Project, which works to exonerate the wrongfully convicted using DNA evidence. But Scheck and Neufeld's greatest fame was yet to come: In 1994, the pair was tapped to serve on O.J.'s "Dream Team" (alongside Robert Shapiro and the late Johnnie Cochran), in a case that ended up being something of a mixed blessing. While it boosted their public profile and helped bolster Scheck's criminal defense practice, it also tarnished their reputation as do-good civil rights advocates.

Of note

Since his headline-making O.J. days, Scheck has been involved in several high-profile cases. He defended British au pair Louise Woodward, who was accused of shaking a baby to death; Scheck and Neufeld also teamed up with Sanford Rubenstein and Johnnie Cochran to win an $8.7 million settlement on behalf of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. (Scheck, Neufeld and Cochran also briefly represented the family of Amadou Diallo until they were replaced with new counsel.)

Scheck continues to teach at Cardozo. But he spends most of his time on the privately-funded Innocence Project, which has helped exonerate more than 200 people to date, including more than a dozen who were scheduled to be executed. Innocence Project board members include Jason Flom (the son of legendary attorney Joe Flom), author John Grisham, geneticist Dr. Eric Lander, Janet Reno, Stephen Schulte (the partner of Paul Roth), Bonnie Seyngart, and Paul Verkuil (the partner of David Boies).

In print

Scheck, Neufeld, and New York Times reporter Jim Dwyer authored the 2003 book called Actual Innocence: When Justice Goes Wrong and How to Make it Right.


Scheck is married to Dorothy Rick, a psychiatric social worker. The couple has two children, Gabriel and Olivia. They live in Brooklyn Heights.