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Mark Rabil, J.D. - Wake Forest University. Winston-Salem, NC, US

Mark Rabil, J.D. Mark Rabil, J.D.

Director of Innocence and Justice Clinic | Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, NC, UNITED STATES

Rabil is an experienced advocate for the wrongfully convicted whose work led to the release and exoneration of Darryl Hunt.


Mark Rabil is a social justice leader who has dedicated his legal career to the wrongfully convicted. He most notably represented Darryl Hunt for twenty years until he was exonerated for the rape and murder of Deborah Sykes in 2004. Rabil’s efforts eventually led to the arrest of the true killer and, in doing so, exposed significant flaws in the prosecution and investigation of the crime. After Hunt’s release and exoneration, Rabil became an assistant capital defender in North Carolina, where he spent ten years representing individuals charged with first-degree murder facing the death penalty. In addition to his role as professor of law, Rabil is the director of the Wake Forest Innocence and Justice Clinic, a position that allows him to involve law students in wrongful conviction and death penalty cases at the trial level.

Areas of Expertise (12)

Trial Advocacy

Criminal Procedure


Criminal Law

Wrongful Convictions

Innocence and Justice

Criminal Justice


Social Justice

Capital Defender

Racial Justice

Criminal Investigation



Mark Rabil, J.D. Publication



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Education (2)

University of North Carolina School of Law: J.D., Law 1980

Davidson College: B.A., English 1977

Affiliations (2)

  • North Carolina Prisoner’s Legal Services
  • N.C. Indigent Services Forensic Resource Counsel

Media Appearances (5)

Oral arguments set for December in case of Winston-Salem man claiming wrongful conviction for fatal shooting outside illegal drink house

Winston-Salem Journal  


Mark Rabil, Hayes’ current attorney, filed a petition with the 4th Circuit after U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder denied Hayes’ appeal.

The 4th Circuit has tentatively scheduled oral arguments in Hayes’ case to happen between Dec. 11 and Dec. 13, according to online court records. The appeals court is located in Richmond, Va.

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Robert Jason Owens to appear in court on Zebb Quinn murder charge

USA Today - Citizen Times  


"Anytime a prosecutor has a case that's this old, it's much more difficult than a usual case," Rabil said. "That's always going to be a factor — the district attorney must consider the evidence that is available to him, both physical evidence and the availability of witnesses. And on the physical evidence, the reliability of that evidence."

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Legal Experts Advocate Change in Mindset Toward Policing, Incarceration

Diverse Issues in Higher Education  


“We need to change the whole view of the world in the U.S. that [says] we need to be locking people up,” said Wake Forest University School of Law professor Mark Rabil. “You might think that we don’t have slavery in this country anymore … but if you look at the 13th Amendment, slavery was never really abolished.”

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3 North Carolinians receive death sentence in 2014



Former defense attorney Mark Rabil tells the Winston-Salem Journal that he believes juries are hesitant to impose the death penalty. Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O'Neill says North Carolinians support the death penalty for the most egregious crimes.

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Attorney says Forsyth prosecutors failed to turn over evidence in 1993 fatal shooting

Winston-Salem Journal  


In a motion filed last year, Hayes’ attorney, Mark Rabil, the director of the Innocence and Justice Clinic at Wake Forest University School of Law, alleges that Forsyth County prosecutors failed to turn over favorable evidence in the case, including eyewitnesses who pointed to other suspects, information about a third shooting victim who survived and additional shell casings that were reportedly found at the crime scene.

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