Sean O'Brien

Sean O'Brien
Professor of Law
School of Law

Contact Info
criminal defense, capital punishment and Innocence Project


Sean O’Brien has been director of various criminal defense clinics at UMKC School of Law since 1983, including the Public Defender Appeals Clinic, the Public Defender Trial Clinic and the Death Penalty Representation Clinic.

Professor O’Brien served as the chief public defender in Kansas City, Mo., from 1985 through 1989, when he was appointed executive director of the Missouri Capital Punishment Resource Center, now the Public Interest Litigation Clinic, where he represents clients in capital trial, appeal and post-conviction cases.

He received his bachelor of arts in English with highest honors from Northwest Missouri State University in 1977, and his J.D. from UMKC School of Law, where he served on the Moot Court Board. In 2005, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Human Letters from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., for his pro bono work on behalf of condemned prisoners.

O’Brien teaches criminal law, criminal procedure and wrongful convictions. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Miracle of Innocence, a nonprofit organization that advocates for innocent prisoners and helps restore them to the community. He supervises clinics that provide pro bono legal assistance to innocent and condemned prisoners with the help of UMKC Law interns.