Ms. Zellner has won numerous awards for her legal work. Some of these awards are as follows:
- 2012 ABA "Pursuit of Justice" Award
- 2011 Trial Excellence Award for her verdict of $15.5 million on behalf of Kevin Fox
- The National Law Journal Selection as one of the Top 10 litigators in the United States in 2000
- Lawdragon selection as one of the top 500 plaintiff's attorneys in the United States
- National Law Journal selection as one of the top 50 female litigators in the United States
- American Trial Lawyer's Association top 100 trial lawyers
- Chiciago Tribune "The Year in Women" 2001
- Martindale Hubbel Bar Registry Preeminent Women Lawyers 2005-2012
- American Lawyer Media Ten Most Influential Female Lawyers in Illinois
- National Law Journal Pro Bono Attorney
- Leading Lawyers - Top 10 female consumer lawyers 2007-2012
- Leading Lawyers Top 10 female lawyer in all areas of law in Illinois 2007-2012
- AV Preeminent Lawyer 1995-2012
Her unique ability to discover and gather evidence has resulted in a number of significant legal victories. Some of her most well-known cases are as follows:
1. 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.
2. 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
3. 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.
4. Ronnie Bullock, Billy Wardell: Obtaining the release of these men after they served a combined total of twenty-five years in prisons.
5. Davon Jackson: Winning this Louisiana murder case by convincing the jury that the real murderer was the prosecution’s star witness.
6. 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.
7. 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
8. Martino v. Illinois Masonic: This remains the highest suicide verdict in the United States.
9. 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.
10. Williams v. Dr. Patel: A record verdict for an inmate’s civil rights case.
11. 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.
12. Lyons v. Cook County Hospital: This wrong medication case was a record verdict in Illinois.
13. Roscetti Four: Successfully obtaining DNA and hair testing after clients lost their pro se motion for such testing. Zellner also located the DNA evidence after clients were informed by a national organization that the forensic evidence had been destroyed. Additionally, Zellner used DNA analysis of crime laboratory work on numerous other cases to show that the same scientist had committed “scientific fraud” in their case. Zellner discovered the FBI profile that was generated before the confessions and used as a blueprint for the two false confessions. Next, Zellner persuaded all of the key witnesses to recant their previous testimony. Also, Zellner got the support of the local and national media to have the case re-examined. Finally, Zellner was able to use all of this new evidence as the basis for the civil rights case.
Zellner’s cases have been profiled in the LA Times, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Chicago Sun Times, ABA Journal, Legal Times, Chicago Reader, Boston Herald, Orlando Sentinel and dozens of other publications. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, the Today Show, 60 Minutes, A&E, 20/20, Dateline and Day One. She has been interviewed by German and Brazilian television programs.
Zellner has given speeches to law schools, businesses, civil
organizations, hospitals, high schools and writers groups. She has been
a presenter for the Illinois State Bar Association as well as the
DuPage County Bar Association.