Lenora Popken joined the Notre Dame Exoneration Justice Clinic in June 2023. Prior to working at the Clinic, Lenora spent three years as a staff attorney for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta. In that role, she served as a peer leader for the motions unit, handling a broad array of complex motions and assisting in the training of new attorneys.
Popken graduated from Notre Dame Law School magna cum laude in 2020 and was a recipient of both the Peter A.R. Lardy Scholarship and the Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Program of Study in Criminal Law for the Class of 2020. During law school, she was actively involved with both the Notre Dame Exoneration Project student group and the Wrongful Conviction Externship, the predecessor to the Exoneration Justice Clinic.
Through the Wrongful Conviction Externship, she was one of two licensed legal interns who had the opportunity to participate in a post-conviction evidentiary hearing on behalf of Andrew Royer. Royer had been wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to 55 years in prison. Based on the evidence presented at that hearing, his conviction was vacated and he was ultimately exonerated after serving approximately 17 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.