When African-American Elmer Daniels gave a talk at a forum about his brutal life sentence and wrongful incarceration over alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl, Attorney Emeka Igwe was in the audience. The gravity of Daniels’ case would lead Igwe to dedicate his time and skill in battling his case on a pro bono basis which eventually led to his client’s freedom in 2018.
Igwe is a graduate of Widener University School of Law (2005). He also received his LLM (Masters of Law) in Trial Advocacy at Temple University Beasley School of Law (2007). He began his career as an Assistant District Attorney in the City of Philadelphia. As an ADA, he prosecuted major felony cases including rape, attempted murder, robbery, burglary, possession with the intent to deliver, and gun possession. In addition, he handled misdemeanor cases such as drug possession, DUI, and theft.
Before Widener, Igwe of Nigerian stock graduated from the University of Delaware in 2002, where he majored in English with a concentration in Business and Technical Writing. He was also a member of the Delaware Student African Association as well as a member of the University of Delaware Track Team.
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After leaving the District Attorney’s office, Attorney Igwe worked at Allstate Insurance Company quickly establishing his reputation as a premier trial attorney who never lost a jury trial case. Several of his winning verdicts are in the Verdict Search Magazine.
Years ago, he began working pro bono to get Daniels freed. On May 22, 1980, Daniels was convicted by an all-white jury and sentenced to life in prison for the rape of the 15-year-old white girl named G.S., despite several witnesses, including his mother, testifying that he was playing basketball at a community center when the assault occurred.
Despite Daniels’ protest, he spent 39 years in jail and was only released from the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution prison on December 13, 2018. Although his earlier appeals were unsuccessful, Daniels’ good fortune was attorney Igwe who rightfully said: “Without my involvement, Elmer would have died in jail.”
According to an account, in 2017, “Daniels hired a new lawyer, Emeka Igwe, who reviewed the case and contended that evidence suggesting his client’s innocence never saw the light of day — that included fingerprints that did not match Daniels’, and a psychiatrist’s testimony that the victim’s description of the assailant did not match Daniels’ appearance. A teenaged witness also provided false testimony that he and Daniels were in the same class, but Igwe found not only were the boys in different grades, but attended different schools.”
Igwe made it clear it was his legal team which initiated the work to get Daniels out of prison, a feat state prosecutors cannot take credit for despite their attempt.
“The attorney general wasn’t going to look at his case or review his case. They want to act like they were benevolent and cared that he already served 39 years … but he (the attorney general) only did what he did because they were forced to,” Igwe stressed.
As he left prison, Daniels praised Igwe for helping him get the charges dismissed. “To find someone that believed in me and having me trust them. It was very hard for me to trust, going through what I was going through at such a young age. For the most part, it felt like nobody cared, but he did.”
At the moment, Igwe, who owns a law practice, The Igwe Firm, serves as Managing Partner. He says The Igwe Firm is dedicated to representing people who have been injured or arrested, aggressively advocating for their rights to get justice.
He also is a member of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Trial Lawyer Association. “He is also licensed to appear before the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and the Supreme Court of the United States.”
He is also a Major in the Delaware National Guard, where he serves as a Judge Advocate General (Military Lawyer).
Igwe is a member of the Wilmington Rotary. He is also the President of the United Way of Delaware Young Impact Professionals Board. He is married to MaryJane and the two live in Middletown, Delaware.