Renowned criminal law expert, appellate attorney, media presence, and beloved professor Byron L. Warnken died September 5, 2022, after a long illness. He was 76.
Warnken was the first male in his family to earn a high school diploma, attending the McDonogh school on a scholarship. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1968, and was drafted and served four years as an enlisted man in the U.S. Army. Warnken attended the University of Baltimore School of Law as a night student while working full-time as a law clerk, first with a law firm and then with the Honorable Basil A. Thomas on the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.
Warnken joined the UBLaw faculty as an adjunct professor in 1977 and became a full-time faculty member in 1978. He taught primarily criminal law and constitutional criminal procedure. For 33 years, he served as Director of the Judicial Internship Program and Judicial “EXPLOR” Program, placing more than 3,000 law students with judges. Warnken, fondly referred to as “Mr. UB,” retired from teaching in 2018, after 45 years.
Outside the classroom, Warnken founded his namesake law firm, Warnken, LLC, which concentrates in appellate litigation and practices in the areas of sophisticated criminal litigation, law enforcement, personal injury, and workers’ compensation.
Warnken shared his legal expertise on many platforms, testifying before Congress and serving as an expert in legislative and judicial arenas. He was a familiar face on local television; as a legal correspondent for four of Baltimore’s local television stations, he did more than 1,500 media appearances and interviews.
Warnken was a longtime member of the Maryland State Bar Association. His contributions included serving on the Criminal Subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Maryland Pattern Jury Instructions and presenting at continuing legal education seminars as faculty for the MSBA Criminal Law Update.
In 2013, Warnken published the first edition of his treatise on Maryland Criminal Law & Procedure. MSBA is honored to be working with a team of criminal attorneys, including former students of Professor Warnken who are now experts in the field, to carry on his legacy with the release of the Second Edition of Maryland Criminal Procedure this fall.
Warnken is survived by his wife, Bonnie Lee Warnken, son Byron Brandon Warnken and his wife Mandy Warnken, daughter Heather Warnken and her husband Andrew Grinberg; grandchildren Decker Warnken, Gibson Warnken, Moses Grinberg, and Cleo Grinberg; and sister Renee Brooks. He will be missed and remembered by the MSBA and the legions of former students—or “Warnkenites”—who carry on the lessons learned in his classroom.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 17 at the University of Baltimore Law School in the Byron L. Warnken Moot Courtroom, 1420 N. Charles St. In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to the V. Renee Warnken Scholarship at the University of Baltimore School of Law. 1401 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201.