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Kathleen T. Zellner

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Civil Rights Attorney in Downers Grove, IL

Kathleen T. Zellner & Associates
1901 Butterfield Road, Suite 650
Downers Grove, IL 60515
Phone: 630-955-1212
Fax: 630-955-1111
Selected to Super Lawyers: 2005 - 2022
Licensed in Illinois Since: 1983
Practice Areas: Civil Rights (50%), Criminal Defense (20%), Personal Injury - Medical Malpractice: Plaintiff (20%), Appellate (10%)
Attorney Profile

The National Law Journal selected Kathleen T. Zellner as a top ten trial lawyer in the United States in 2000 for a suicide malpractice verdict of $13 million. Zellner obtained the release of ten wrongfully convicted men from prison with DNA testing. In 2005, with DNA, she obtained the release of Kevin Fox, a man falsely accused of murdering his 3-year-old daughter, and, in 2007, won a $15.5 million verdict for the violation of his civil rights. In 2014, she won a $9 million civil rights verdict for Ray Spencer in Washington. In 2017, she won an $11 million verdict for Ryan Ferguson in Missouri. Zellner was selected as Chicago Lawyer of the Year in 2014, and was profiled in Super Lawyer Magazine in 2018. Zellner has been featured in the documentaries Making a Murderer 2 and Dream/Killer. 

About Kathleen T. Zellner

First Admitted: 1983, Illinois

Professional Webpage:

Representative Clients

  • Kevin Fox: Winning this civil rights case resulted in obtaining the highest verdict of its kind in the United States. Recognizing that a state laboratory finding of "inconclusive saliva" meant that there was a possibility there was DNA to be tested. She persuaded the State’s Attorney to allow a private lab to test the samples which excluded Kevin Fox with 100% certainty. She also successfully filed a civil rights case six weeks after Kevin Fox’s incarceration, and before the DNA exoneration, that survived all motions to dismiss
  • Ronnie Bullock, Billy Wardell: Obtaining the release of these men after they served a combined total of twenty-five years in prisons
  • Dan Young, Jr. and Harold Hill: Using experts to discover new bite mark evidence and DNA that exonerated both men after a combined total of twenty-seven (27) years of incarceration
  • Williams v. Dr. Patel: A record verdict for an inmate's civil rights case
  • Joseph Burrows: Obtaining the release of Joseph Burrows after six and a half years on Death Row and within months of his execution. Zellner persuaded the real murderer to confess during her courtroom testimony. This case is one of the leading Illinois cases on post-conviction confessions
  • Beanie Baby Bandit: Winning a directed verdict for her 79 year old client and arranging to have the alleged proceeds of the robbery donated to charity
  • Green v. Plymouth Court Partners: A record verdict in a sexual assault case in the Chicago Bar Association building. Zellner had the rapist testify as to the lack of security in the building
  • Lyons v. Cook County Hospital: This wrong medication case was a record verdict in Illinois
  • Larry Eyler: Obtaining twenty-one confessions from Larry Eyler that allowed law enforcement to close all twenty-one murder cases in three states. A movie is being made by a major Hollywood producer on Zellner's work in this case
  • Davon Jackson: Winning this Louisiana murder case by convincing the jury that the real murderer was the prosecution's star witness
  • Martino v. Illinois Masonic: This remains the highest suicide verdict in the United States
  • Toney v. Cook County Hospital: This medical malpractice case was a record verdict in Illinois. This case was the first Cook County case where the jury was allowed to compare videos of the injured three year old to a normal three year old


  • Won a $15,500,000.00 civil rights verdict on behalf of her clients Kevin and Melissa Fox


  • One of Top 50 Female Lawyers in Illinois, 2007
  • One of the Top 100 Lawyers in Illinois in All Areas of Law, 2007 - 2008
  • Champion of Justice Award, Illinois State Crime Commission
  • One of the Top 10 Litigators in the United States, National Law Journal, 2000
  • Leading Lawyer in Illinois
  • Top 500 Plaintiff's Lawyers in United States by Lawdragons
  • Awarded Highest United States Verdict for Medical Malpractice Suicide Verdict
  • One of the Top 50 Women Litigators in the United States, 2001
  • One of the Top 10 Female Lawyers in Illinois
  • One of the Top 100 Lawyers in Illinois in All Areas of Law, American Academy of Trial Attorneys, 2008
  • Obtains Record for Largest Award Ever Made in Illinois for a Sexual Assault Case

Articles about Kathleen T. Zellner appearing in Super Lawyers

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Office Location for Kathleen T. Zellner

1901 Butterfield Road
Suite 650
Downers Grove, IL 60515

Last Updated: 8/27/2020

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