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For law professor, life’s work becomes a treatise

For Byron L. Warnken, 32 years of work has come down to 1,940 pages, 34 chapters and 8.4 pounds.

The attorney and University of Baltimore School of Law professor has published a three-volume treatise, Maryland Criminal Procedure, starting with the materials he created over the years for his classes.

The book, which contains 10,000 cases, statutes and rules, is the only compilation of its kind to break down criminal procedure in Maryland.

Photo of Byron L. Warnken

‘Criminal law is the accident by the side of the road of life,’ Byron L. Warnken says. ‘We all slow down and look.’

“It’s not just a book of pages and letters,” Warnken said. “There’s a story there.”

Warnken said he had already sold 200 pre-order copies before the work became available on Amazon.com last Friday.

He will use the book as class material for his Constitutional Criminal Procedure I and II courses starting in the spring 2014 semester.

“I try to teach the real world,” Warnken said. “I always tell students if I can’t teach you to practice law, God knows what they’re wasting taxpayer money on me for.”

Warnken started creating his own course materials a few years after he began teaching in 1977.

“Even from day one I was not satisfied with the materials that were out there,” Warnken said.

He decided to combine and publish the materials in 2009.

“I was naïve enough to think that if I got all the things and poured it into a pan, I would have a treatise,” Warnken said.

Warnken then started converting more than 65 lessons from his two main courses “and used that as a starting point” for what would become the 34 chapters.

“Then I had to go back and do additional research,” he said.

Writing the book, teaching classes and practicing at Warnken LLC in Towson is “a constant juggling act,” he said. Although the third volume is finished, he will be updating it and supplementing it annually, until there is enough new material for a new edition.

He credits his son, Byron B. Warnken, for helping him set and meet deadlines over the course of about four years.

“I was playing the academic,” Warnken said. “[My son] really became a tough taskmaster so we could get this published while I was still alive.”

The younger Warnken, also a lawyer, owns the treatise’s publishing company, 27Legal LLC. Warnken said that gave him more creative freedom in choosing the font, the cover design and style of the book.

The three-volume set is available on Amazon.com for $289, but students enrolled in Warnken’s criminal procedure courses will only have to pay $199, he said.

“Criminal law is the accident by the side of the road of life,” Warnken said. “We all slow down and look. My area is an area everyone has an interest in and is always changing.”