By Kelsie Stanhope and Rachel Paulus
At the Chicago Innocence Center, we are eager to recognize prosecutors who buck the trend of convict-at-all-costs; those who take risks to transform the culture and infrastructure that creates wrongful convictions. Here we highlight four prosecutors who say they are committed to transforming the culture, beginning with Michael Nerheim.
Micheal Nerheim: Lake County IL State's Attorney
To learn more about Mr.Nerheim, explore the links below:
Meet Michael Nerheim - The Lake County website introduces Mr. Nerheim to the public and discusses his experiences and goals for the county.
Lake County State's Attorney Revs Up Wrongful Convictions Reform, Better Government Association - Michael Nerheim's goal when taking office was to reform the the office that had been responsibly for four highly publicized wrongful convictions that had been subsequently overturned. He created a case review panel, which is composed of volunteer attorneys and former prosecutors and judges whose job is to examine cases in which the prosecution is questionable.
Lake County Wrongful-Conviction Review Panel Sworn In, Daily Herald - The review panel volunteer members were sworn is as special assistant states attorneys. This measure was taken to legally protect the members of the panel. Nerheim wants the board to expand their focus from DNA-related wrongful convictions to wrongful convictions as a whole.
Nerheim Forms Review Panel in Lake County, Chicago Tribune - The review panel created in Lake County consists of Robert Baizer, a private attorney and former Lake County prosecutor; Judge Peter Dockery, a retired DuPage County Circuit Court Associate Judge; Nicholas Ivarone, a private attorney and former Cook County prosecutor; Ennedy Rivera, a civil litigator; Emilio Santi, a private attorney and former 19th Judicial Circuit judge; and Frank Zera, chairman of the Department for Criminal Justice at the College of Lake County.
State's Attorney Mike Nerheim Announces Restructure of State's Attorney's Office, Gazebo News - Nerheim reorganized the structure of the office so attorneys were working in departments with which they had interest. He has created specialty felony units so the attorneys can be more focused on their cases. Nerheim also created a training division, which will serve to conduct in-house training, train new employees, and implement a mentoring program within the office.
Lake County's Justice Reform Bid Has a Twist to It: New Prosecutor to Review Cases That Don't Rely on DNA, Chicago Tribune - The first cases Nerheim chose for review did not have DNA evidence to show innocence. The cases chosen were picked because the defendants had contacted Nerheim proclaiming their innocence, rather than saying they should be released based on technicalities.
Lake County Prosecutor Looks Back at 1st Year, Chicago Tribune - Nerheim reminisces about his first year in office. Some criticize Nerheim for not prosecuting law enforcement offices and not firing prosecutors who helped contribute to wrongful convictions.