Professor Emeritus Byron L. Warnken, who for decades colorfully personified the University of Baltimore School of Law, passed away on Sept. 5, 2022, after a valiant struggle with a neurological disorder. He was 76 years old.
A native Baltimorean, Warnken was a scholarship student at McDonogh School, where he won a school-wide oratory competition in high school and played the lead in the school production of “Billy Budd.” He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1968.
After being discharged from the Army, he attended the University of Baltimore School of Law as an evening student, graduating cum laude in 1977. While in law school, Warnken worked full-time as a law clerk, first with a law firm and then with the Hon. Basil A. Thomas, on the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. He was president of the Student Bar Association.
Soon after graduation he began to teach at the law school, first as an adjunct professor and eventually as a tenured professor. He was a member of the law faculty for more than 40 years before retiring in 2018, at which time we named the moot courtroom in his honor. A tribute video was made at the time, and Baltimore Law magazine published this article about him.
A memorial service was held at the law school on Sept. 17.
“Byron Warnken was a legendary teacher of criminal law and procedure, and author of the three-volume treatise Maryland Criminal Procedure,” says Baltimore Law Dean Ronald Weich. “He developed and led the school’s nationally known moot court program and established the EXPLOR program, which guarantees students the opportunity to work in judicial chambers and law offices after their first year of law school. Above all, Warnken was a devoted mentor to generations of UB Law students. Because he embodied the spirit of our law school, Byron Warnken was widely known as ‘Mr. UB.’”
Warnken won numerous awards throughout his career from organizations such as the Bar Association of Baltimore City, the Women’s Bar Association, the Maryland State Bar Association, the University of Baltimore and the University System of Maryland.
In addition to the countless law students he launched into the legal profession, Warnken’s legacy includes his wife Bonnie, a UB Law alumna; his son Byron B. Warnken, a UB Law alumnus; and his daughter Heather, who is the executive director of the school’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform.