Lynn D’Orio – Warrior For The Downtrodden

By |2018-01-16T04:37:13-05:00September 22nd, 2005|Uncategorized|

Lynn D’Orio has been a member of CDAM since she graduated from Wayne State University Law School and is currently a member of the Board of Directors. Lynn has worked tirelessly on many CDAM issues, but most recently, against great odds and sheer force of will, she won a much coveted $10,000 grant from the Michigan Bar Foundation for the Trial College. Lynn was successful in this mission, as she is in everything she sets out to do, in spite of the travails of life and work responsibilities – she is the epitome of grace under fire and one class act!
In 1989, Ms. D’Orio left behind a ten-year career in sales and marketing for a large chemical and pharmaceutical company to study law at Wayne. At the time, she believed she would use her degree in organic chemistry to be a patent attorney. Her plan was terminally derailed when she took criminal and constitutional law as a first year law student. Suddenly, her choices became clear: Die of boredom arguing issues like the unique chemical attributes of a Nerf Ball as compared to the common kitchen sponge or live a life litigating on behalf of criminal defendants. The latter was embraced.
While at Wayne, Ms. D’Orio joined the Battered Women’s Clemency Project. Attorneys with the Project (many of whom were CDAM members and/or SADO attorneys) reviewed the cases of women who were incarcerated for killing their abusive partners. Cases were selected and student volunteers were sent to the prisons to interview the incarcerated women. Ms. D’Orio was assigned the case of Violet Allen, a woman who was serving mandatory life without parole for shooting her abusive husband in October of 1977. Before Ms. D’Orio graduated from Wayne State, the Clemency Project disbanded. Petitions for clemency were not filed for any of the incarcerated women.
Ms. D’Orio met UM Professor Carol Jacobsen in 1994. With the help of the Michigan ACLU, the two women re-established the Michigan Battered Women’s Clemency Project (http://www.umich.edu/~clemency/). Soon, petitions for clemency were filed on behalf of several women, including Violet Allen. Then-Governor Engler summarily denied each petition.
In 1997, Ms. D’Orio filed a motion for relief from judgment on Ms. Allen’s behalf asking Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Michael G. Harrison to right the horrible wrong that was Ms. Allen’s conviction. Judge Harrison vacated Ms. Allen’s conviction. She pled to a lesser offense and was freed a few months later. Ms. Allen’s freedom took a turn for the worst in July of 2001 when she was in a car crash. The accident left Ms. Allen severely handicapped and her family, which was still dysfunctional, could not decide what to do or who should do it. After deliberation, Ms. D’Orio was appointed conservator and co-guardian for Ms. Allen. She visits with Ms. Allen regularly and has witnessed her tremendous progress in learning how to eat, walk and talk all over again.
Ms. D’Orio is still a co-coordinator for the Battered Women’s Clemency Project and is working to convince Governor Granholm to free the women the Project represents.
Over the years, and now, Ms. D’Orio gained valuable knowledge and support from CDAM and its members. She recalled attending her first CDAM meeting and how she was immediately hooked (again) on criminal defense. (Despite John Minock’s laissez-faire query, “So, how long have you had a problem with authority?”) She has regularly attended CDAM’s bi-annual trainings commenting, “CDAM’s trainings helped me in my solo practice. Without CDAM and the kindness of several local attorneys, I would not have survived on my own.”
In 1999, Ms. D’Orio was appointed to the Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission. During her three-year term, she chaired the Police Community Relations Committee and was influential in implementing the collection of data on traffic stops by the Ann Arbor Police Department and retaining nationally known racial profiling expert, John Lamberth, to conduct the survey.
Ms. D’Orio attended the National Criminal Defense College in Macon, Georgia in 2001. She returned to Michigan believing that CDAM should have a trial practice training similar to the one in Macon. In late 2002, she joined CDAM’s Education Committee where she found like minds on subject of training for criminal defense attorneys. August 2004 saw the first annual CDAM Trial Practice College. This year, Ms. D’Orio obtained a $10,000.00 grant from the Michigan Bar Foundation for the 2005 Trial College.
In addition to her solo practice, Ms. D’Orio teaches criminal justice courses at Baker College in Flint. “I do my best to present the material I teach in different ways: Tell them, show them and let them do it. That is the philosophy of the Trial College as well. Tell-show-do. The grants CDAM has received should allow several attorneys to attend the College on full or partial scholarships. Check out the website and don’t miss a great opportunity.”

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BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.