Valerie R. Newman has been an attorney with the State Appellate Defender Office for 20 years. She has argued hundreds of cases before the Michigan appellate courts and has been a regularly featured speaker at Michigan appellate bench-bar conferences. She has taught as an adjunct professor of law at Michigan Law since 2000. She has advocated for improvements to the criminal justice system, women's rights, and the professional development of women throughout her career.
On Oct. 31, 2011, Newman argued the case of Lafler v. Cooper in the U.S. Supreme Court. On March 21, 2012, the Court ruled in her client's favor in a 5-4 decision. The New York Times heralded the decision as the most important right–to-counsel case since Gideon v. Wainwright, while legal rights groups and scholars alike cite it as one of the most important cases of that Supreme Court term. She returned to the Supreme Court in October 2013 to argue the case of Burt v. Titlow. She also litigated the highly publicized case of People v. Thomas (and Raymond) Highers, which resulted in the release of two men who had each served 25 years of incarceration for crimes they did not commit. The story was featured on Dateline in 2014 and included courtroom footage and interviews with Newman.
Newman is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2014 Richard J. Barber Alumni Achievement Award from the Wayne Law Review, the State Bar of Michigan's 2013 Champion of Justice Award, the 2013 Woman of Wayne Headliner Award, the Justice Caucus's 2012 Spirit of Millie Jeffrey Award, and the 2009 Volunteer of the Year Award from the Women Lawyer’s Association of Michigan Foundation. In 2012, Lawyers USA named Newman a Lawyer of the Year (one of only seven lawyers from across the country) and Michigan Lawyer's Weekly named her one of the top-20 woman lawyers in the state. In 2010, she was elected a fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation. Newman received her BA from the University of Michigan and her JD from Wayne State University Law School.