Peter Henning, ex-federal prosecutor and legal scholar, dies at 65

Revered by colleagues and students, Henning left an indelible mark on the law
Peter Henning
Posted at 11:05 PM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-17 23:05:00-05

(WXYZ) — In courtrooms, in classrooms and on television, no one knew the law better than Peter Henning.

During a career that spanned four decades, he helped put away white collar criminals, pushed for stronger ethics in the legal field and helped train the next generation of lawyers.

Henning died Sunday following a battle with dementia. He was 65.

For the last 28 years, he was a fixture at Wayne State University’s School of Law, teaching courses on criminal law, white collar crime and securities litigation.

Henning has been a professor at WSU since 2002.

Widely regarded as a a brilliant legal scholar, he also had a knack for distilling complex legal concepts into soundbites.

Beginning in 2007, Henning appeared frequently on 7 Action News as a legal expert, tapped to explain the latest high-profile indictment, jury verdict or ethical quagmire involving a public official.

“Peter was such an amazing man,” said Channel 7’s Heather Catallo. “I loved every single interview I did with him, not just because he was so brilliant, but also because he was such a joy to spend time with.”

To say Henning wrote the book on criminal law would be an understatement; he helped author 13 of them throughout his career, focusing on everything from public corruption to criminal procedure.

“I never left an interview with Peter where I didn’t learn something,” said Channel 7’s Ross Jones. “He was generous with his wisdom and time. He was generous, period.”

Henning joined Wayne State’s law school following an impressive career in the federal government.

He first served as a senior attorney at the Division of Enforcement for the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, cracking down on insider trading and market manipulation. In 1991, he joined the Department of Justice where he specialized in investigating and prosecuting bank fraud.

He is survived by his wife Karen and daughters Molly, Alexandra and Grace.