Joshua Tepfer is a partner at Loevy & Loevy. He has been representing the criminally accused since 2004, first as an attorney with the Chicago Office of the State Appellate Defender (2004-2008) and then as an Assistant Clinical Professor with Northwestern University School of Law, where he served as the Project Director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth (2008-2015). Josh graduated magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2004 and with a B.A. in Sociology from Grinnell in 1997.
Josh joined Loevy & Loevy is May 2015. He dedicates most of his time to representing the wrongfully convicted pro bono with the Exoneration Project. His civil rights practice focuses on wrongful convictions and police misconduct. Josh is also a Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School, where he teaches a clinical course.
Josh has been involved in the exoneration of roughly 50 men and women, and he litigates wrongful conviction cases all over the country. He is the lead attorney for the only mass exoneration in the history of Cook County, Illinois, which is ongoing.
Josh has published and presented frequently on issues related to wrongful convictions, false confessions, police misconduct, and juvenile justice. He has appeared on many national and local news outlets discussing issues related to criminal justice.
University of Minnesota Law School
• J.D. (magna cum laude) – 2004
• Dean’s list
• B.A. – 1997
• Assistant Clinical Professor, Project Co-Director, Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, Attorney, Center on Wrongful Convictions, Northwestern University School of Law, 2008-2015
• Assistant Defender, Illinois State Appellate Defender, 2004-2008
• Anand Swaminathan and Joshua Tepfer, Why police shooting cases need outside prosecutors, Ch. Sun Times (Feb. 3, 2016)
• Joshua Tepfer, Opinion: No one should be in prison based on debunked science, Ch. Sun. Times (Oct. 14, 2015).
• Steven A. Drizin, Laura H. Nirider, and Joshua A. Tepfer, Juvenile Justice and Wrongful Convictions, in Examining Wrongful Convictions: Stepping Back, Moving Forward, Allison Redlich et al., ed. (2014)
• Joshua A. Tepfer, Defending Juvenile Confessions After J.D.B. v. North Carolina, The Champion Magazine (March 2014)
• Joshua A. Tepfer, Laura H. Nirider, & Steven A. Drizin, Scrutinizing Confessions In a New Era of Juvenile Jurisprudence, Court Review (Judicial Magazine) (January 2014).
• Joshua Tepfer, Opinion Editorial: Interrogators run amok in Tennessee, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Dec. 21, 2013.
• Joshua Tepfer, Opinion Editorial: False Confessions Not a Relic of the Past, Chicago Sun Times, Dec. 26, 2012.
• Steven A. Drizin, Joshua A. Tepfer, Laura H. Nirider, & James Nawoichyk, Reducing Risk: An Executive Guide to Effective Juvenile Interview and Interrogation, Publication of International Association of Chiefs of Police in partnership with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (September 2012).
• Joshua A. Tepfer & Laura H. Nirider, Adjudicated Juveniles and Post-Conviction Litigation, 64 Maine L. Rev. 554 (2012).
• Joshua A. Tepfer & Craig Cooley, Convenient Scapegoats: Juvenile Confessions and Exculpatory DNA in Cook County, IL, 18 Cardozo J. L. & Gend. 631 (2012).
• Laura H. Nirider, Joshua A. Tepfer, & Steven A. Drizin, Combating Contamination in Confession Cases: A Review of Brandon L. Garrett’s Convicting the Innocent, 79 Univ. Chi. L. Rev. 837 (2012).
• Joshua A. Tepfer, Laura H. Nirider, & Lynda M. Tricarico, Arresting Development: Convictions of Innocent Youth, 62 Rutg. L. Rev. 891 (2010).
• Joshua Tepfer, Untrue Confessions: Why Confess to a Crime You Didn’t Commit? Playboy Magazine (Nov. 2009)
• In re Corruption of Former Chicago Police Sergeant Ronald Watts (Circuit Court of Cook County, IL) Lead counsel in Cook County’s first ever mass exoneration, which remains ongoing. To date, 56 convictions of 42 individuals have been overturned as a result of a decade of misconduct by disgraced Sergeant Ronald Watts and his tactical team. Fifteen officers disciplined by the City and State’s Attorney as a result of the litigation.
• People v. Corey Batchelor (Circuit Court of Cook County, IL) Lead post-conviction counsel for man tortured into false confession by Chicago detectives tied to Jon Burge. Murder conviction of Mr. Batchelor and Kevin Bailey overturned nearly 30 years after their arrest.
• People v. Thomas Sierra (Circuit Court of Cook County, IL) Post-conviction counsel for man framed by disgraced former Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara. Mr. Sierra spent 22 years in prison prior to exoneration.
• People v. Robert Hill, (Circuit Court of Cook County) Post-conviction counsel for man whose charges were dismissed 10 years after illegal arrest and interrogation.
• People v. John Horton (Circuit Court of Winnebago County, IL & Illinois Appellate Court) Lead post-conviction counsel involving 17-year-old false confessor in Rockford, IL. Conviction vacated by Illinois Appellate Court in what a concurring judge called an “extraordinary and possibly unprecedented remedy.” Mr. Horton spent nearly 23 years in prison before being exonerated.
• People v. Charles Johnson, et al. (“Marquette Park Four”) (Circuit Court of Cook County, IL and Illinois Appellate Court) – Post-conviction counsel in quadruple exoneration. Mr. Johnson and his co-defendants were all teenagers when they falsely confessed to double murder. Illinois appellate court reversed lower court decision and State’s Attorney later drops charges as a result of new fingerprint results and Brady v. Maryland violations.
• People v. Daniel Andersen (Circuit Court of Cook County, IL) Post-conviction counsel for Mr. Andersen, who falsely confessed, spent over 27 years in prison, and was exonerated 35 years after his arrest.
• People v. Jamie Lee Peterson (Circuit Court of Kalkaska County, MI and MI Court of Claims) Post-conviction counsel for Mr. Peterson, who falsely confessed and was wrongfully imprisoned for 17 years. Mr. Peterson was later adjudged innocent.
• People v. Terrill Swift et. al. (“Englewood Four”) (Circuit Court of Cook County, IL) Post-conviction counsel for Mr. Swift in case involving false confessions and wrongful convictions of four teenagers. Mr. Swift and his co-defendants were certified innocent in 2012 after they spent roughly 60 years in prison combined. Case profiled on CBS 60 Minutes where Chicago was coined The False Confession Capital.
• People v. Robert Taylor et. al. (“Dixmoor Five”) (Circuit Court of Cook County, IL) Quintuple Exoneration of five convicted teenagers, aged 14-16. Mr. Taylor and two others falsely confessed, leading to the five men spending nearly 80 years in prison wrongfully. Mr. Taylor and others were certified innocent.
• J.D.B. v. North Carolina, 131 S.Ct. 2394 (2011) Counsel amicus curiae for Center on Wrongful Conviction of Youth (CWCY) in support of prevailing party J.D.B. Justice Sotomayor, for the majority, held that a child’s age must be included as part of the Miranda custody calculus. Justice Sotomayor noted the risk of false confession is “all the more acute” when the suspect is a juvenile, specifically citing CWCY amicus brief.
• State v. Daniel Villegas (El Paso County Circuit Court, TX) Post-conviction counsel for Mr. Villegas on habeas petition and appeals through the Texas high courts. Mr. Villegas was 16 years old when he falsely confessed to double murder and spent more than two decades in prison for a crime he did not commit. He was acquitted at a re-trial in September 2018.
• In re Elias V. (Court of Appeal, First District, Division 2, CA) Counsel amicus curiae in support of prevailing party. The Appellate Court’s unanimous decision reversed outright the wrongful conviction of a 13-year-old boy.
• In re Samantha V. (Illinois Supreme Court) 234 Ill. 2d 359 (2009) Counsel on appeal for juvenile resulting in a unanimous favorable decision by Illinois Supreme Court reversing lower appellate court and holding that state one-act, one-crime rule applies to juvenile proceedings.