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Celebrating Professor Byron Warnken and his new treatise

It’s clear that Professor Byron Warnken, J.D. ’77, imbued his daughter, Heather, with a love of the law. It’s also clear that Heather Warnken absolutely adores her dad.

At an evening celebration at the law center on Oct. 22, Heather Warnken—a UC Berkeley School of Law graduate who specializes in criminal and juvenile justice reform in California—was master of ceremonies for a celebration of her father’s latest work, the three-volume Maryland Criminal Procedure.

In her opening remarks, Heather Warnken shared a quote from retired Court of Appeals Judge Joseph F. Murphy, who said of Professor Warnken’s new treatise: “There are two rules that you should follow when you need to find the correct answer to a question about Maryland criminal procedure. Rule 1: Begin your research by consulting Professor Warnken’s treatise. Rule 2: Never fail to obey Rule 1.”

Heather Warnken also gave the more than 150 guests gathered in the moot courtroom a peek at the professor at home.

“My father was a born teacher,” she said. “We think one of the reasons he was most excited to be a dad was that he gained two captive pupils in my brother and me. Starting from age 2, we got nightly lessons—literally, folks—on words, history, the law and the world.”

Heather Warnken said it was impossible for her to set foot in the state of Maryland without being pulled aside—“at ballgames, bars, professional events, restroom lines”—by former students of her father’s eager to share stories about him.

Sure, some tell tales of terror specific to Professor Warnken’s first-year crim class, she acknowledged. But most of the stories, she said, illustrated Warnken’s devotion to his students and to the University of Baltimore School of Law, where he has taught for 36 years.

“Most are desperate to share tales of my father going to bat for them,” Heather Warnken said. “Demanding more from them. … Changing their whole professional trajectory because he wanted to hear from them and because he gave them a chance.

“My father captivates and inspires,” she continued. “He cannot contain his enthusiasm for or knowledge of the law, nor his passion for sharing it with others. He is the epitome of where intellect meets passion.”

In conclusion, Heather Warnken—who said she speaks to her dad almost every day—said: “My father loves his students. .. [N]ot one conversation goes by without him wanting to talk about his current and former students, what they are doing, what is going on at the law school and how excited he is about it.”

School of Law Dean Ronald Weich introduced Professor Warnken, and G. Adam Ruther, J.D. ’07, and Timothy Maloney, J.D. '85, offered remarks as well.