Richard Dvorak graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1993 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and history. In 1996, after a brief career in journalism, Mr. Dvorak began attending DePaul University College of Law. During law school, he took a year off to teach English in South Korea and Spain. After returning to DePaul in 1998, Mr. Dvorak was chosen to be a summer intern in Mexico City with an independent Mexican human rights organization. Having lived and worked in Spain and Mexico, Mr. Dvorak is fluent in Spanish.
After graduating from DePaul College of Law in 1999, Mr. Dvorak worked as an attorney with the Cook County Public Defender's Office in Chicago. While working for the Public Defender's Office, Mr. Dvorak successfully tried numerous bench and jury trials. Mr. Dvorak then went into private practice, concentrating his work in criminal defense, civil rights and personal-injury litigation.
Mr. Dvorak is an Adjunct Professor at the Northern Illinois University College of Law. He is Director of its Prisoners' Rights Project. Mr. Dvorak has extensive experience in Section 1983 civil rights litigation on behalf of prisoners and detainees in prisons and jails. Mr. Dvorak obtained a $4.75 Million settlement on behalf of an injured detainee at the Cook County Jail, and has obtained several six-figure settlements against the Cook County Jail, IDOC, and other jails and prisons. Mr. Dvorak has also been the class representative in class actions on behalf of prisoners and detainees seeking to improve their conditions of confinement.
Mr. Dvorak is the author of the "Confessions" and "Representing Clients in the Early Stages of a Criminal Action" Chapters of Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education's authoritative practitioner's guide, "Defending Illinois Criminal Cases." Mr. Dvorak is also the author of a law review article published in the Michigan Journal of Race & Law, 5 Mich. J. Race & L. 611 (2000), titled, Cracking the Code: "'De-Coding' Colorblind Slurs During the Congressional Crack Cocaine Debates." This article, which traces the racist history behind the passage of every major federal drug law, argues why the federal crack cocaine sentencing scheme violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. This article has been cited in dozens of published law review articles; by the American Civil Liberties Union in a March 19, 2002 speech before the United States Sentencing Commission; and was cited by a federal judge in New York in support of his published decision that reduced the sentence for an African-American man convicted of possessing crack cocaine. See Simon v. United States, 361 F.Supp.2d 35, 43, n.9 (E.D. N.Y. 2005). This article was also recently cited by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in support of an African-American man suing for racial discrimination, due to the fact that he was falsely accused of smoking crack cocaine, which the Court found had undertones of racism. See Harvard v. Cesnalis, 973 F.3d 190, 206 (3d Cir. 2020).
Mr. Dvorak also is a well-known authority on civil-rights litigation involving Brady violations, having litigated several cases wherein exculpatory evidence was withheld by government officials. He has also lectured on the subject, and wrote a cutting-edge article on a particularly controversial aspect of Brady litigation in a well-known civil-rights journal. See "Is your Federal Circuit 'Woke'?: An Evaluation of Each Circuit's Use of the Baseless Brady Defense Due Diligence Rule," Civil Rights Litigation and Attorney Fee Handbook, Volume 35 (2019).
Mr. Dvorak is a member of the Illinois Bar, the general and trial bars for the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, as well as a member of the bar for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. He is also a member of the following federal bars: Central District of Illinois, Southern District of Illinois, District of Colorado, the Northern District of Indiana, and the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
- Illinois, 1999
- U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois, 1999
- U.S. Supreme Court, 2004
- U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit, 2007
- Central District of Illinois
- Southern District of Illinois
- District of Colorado
- Northern District of Indiana
- Eastern District of Wisconsin
- DePaul University College of Law, Chicago, Illinois, J.D. - 1999
- University of Wisconsin - 1993
- Major: Journalism and History
- National Police Accountability Project, Member
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Member
- Federal Bar Association
- Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- Cook County Public Defender's Office, Attorney
- DiFranco & Associates, P.C., Associate Attorney
- Dvorak, Toppel & Barrino, LLC, Partner
- Dvorak & Toppel Law Office LLC
“Section 1983 Brady Claims in the Seventh Circuit – Fair Trial Denied by Concealment of Exculpatory Evidence.” National Police Accountability Project, 2019.
Civil Rights Settlements – Representing Multiple Plaintiffs in Non-Class Action Lawsuits.” National Police Accountability Project, 2016
Honors and Awards
Sullivan Award (Awarded International Human Rights Internship in Mexico City), 1998
Top Lawyers in Illinois, Criminal Defense, Superlawyers, 2015-2016” and “Nation’s Top One Percent of Lawyers, 2015-2019
Pro Bono Activities
Legal Services Volunteer/First Defense Legal Aid
Legal Services Volunteer/Lawndale Christian Legal Center