CCSAO Spotlight for Monday, August 1, 2022

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State's Attorney's Office


Last week the Chicago Tribune published an article discussing ASA departures during the pandemic. Please listen to my subsequent interview with WBEZ in which I discuss how we are addressing the staffing challenges.

Significant staff turnover is not unique to our office – prosecutorial offices across the country, such as St. Louis Baltimore, and New York City, are experiencing similar departures and overworked staff. This is a consistent topic of conversation with my counterparts across the country and during prosecutorial conferences, especially during the conference I attended last week.

The legal hiring market presents significant challenges, such as unprecedented law firm hiring, fewer law school students, fewer students passing the bar exam, a widening private sector pay gap, and decreased interest in law enforcement careers.  

Despite these challenges, the CCSAO remains a premiere employment opportunity for aspiring prosecutors seeking to make meaningful change in one of the largest and most complex court systems in the country.

Since the pandemic started we have worked hard to address departures. Bureau Chief and leadership meetings dedicate significant time developing initiatives to address staff turnover. 

These initiatives included streamlining the hiring process, expanding the hiring division, tracking more hiring data, developing a more meaningful onboarding experience, conducting voluntary exit interviews, creating a more inclusive culture with the employee resource groups, and investing in training and mentoring.

These efforts have helped us hire at least 100 new attorneys during 2022, with nearly 50 bar-takers starting in August.

I will be conducting listening sessions with supervisors in the coming weeks.

I also encourage any employee to share comments, questions, or suggestions through the anonymous suggestion box.

Thank you again.


Do you have any news to share about awards, recognitions, CCSAO events, criminal justice-related stories, or other personal news? Send them to us here.

Upcoming Events and Announcements

Come Join the Community Engagement Fun

Do you enjoy public speaking about a subject matter? Do you have a program or community service idea that we should do as an office? Are you interested in knowing about how we engage with the community? Tell us about it by filling out our Volunteer Interest Form

We are looking forward to engaging with you!

CCSAO Softball Tournament


The annual CCSAO tournament will be held on Saturday, August 27 at Waveland Park Softball Fields at 3650 N. Recreation Drive, Chicago IL 60613. It will be between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. The fee is $10 per player.

Please contact if you plan to attend and eat/drink, but do not intend to play so enough food and drinks can be ordered.

Staff Highlights


“I lost at my first hearing today. However, I did my very best despite the fact that the judge had already made up their mind as to the ruling —  before I even made my argument. 

The case was sent to me 1.5 days before, but I stayed up very late that night going over my argument, statutes, and corresponding case law. 

The point is — don’t ever stop working hard despite the odds against you. Persevere, continue to learn, and most importantly, be your best. 

I absolutely love working for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. I have already learned so much and have gained valuable experience. I will always seek justice and equity. 

Be the best version of yourself every single day. Hone your craft, develop your skill, and do not settle for less.”

Leah Kovtunenko, Real Estate Tax Litigation, Civil Actions Bureau


CODA Movie Discussion

On July 20, the Ability Alliance Network and the Office of Criminal Justice's Deaf/Hard Hearing Access team held a movie discussion with over 20 participants and had a very engaging and educational conversation regarding CODA (an Apple original film). 

Thank you to the host June Prusak and Ann Wohlmuth for the wealth of knowledge and information. 

National Intern Day

We want to recognize all the great work the interns have done during summer (including those who have been here as of the fall and winter). We have 150+ interns this summer, all ranging from high school students to Undergrads, Paralegal studies & Law students. Our interns are placed in various Divisions/Bureaus: Criminal Bureau, Civil Bureau, Special Prosecution, Financial Crimes, Communications, Data and much more. THANK YOU!


Death Before Life

John Gorman, former CCSAO Communications Director for SA Richard Devine is now a published author and wanted to share the news with his fellow colleagues.

State’s Attorney Foxx Highlights


Budget Hearing

On July 18, State’s Attorney Foxx outlined the office’s preliminary budget to the Cook County Board of Commissioners. She highlighted how the office is emerging from the pandemic and looking forward to how the office can better meet its mission. 

The State’s Attorney gave a broad overview on the office’s charging and approval rates, diversionary initiatives, hiring amidst a competitive legal market and technology transformations. Commissioners’ questions touched on topics such as the progress of diversion programs, how the SAO is collaborating with the police departments and the timeline for the new case management system. Several commissioners lauded the office and the work of its hard-working staff.   


Improving the Life-Mind-Body Connection

It’s important to recognize the vital connection between your body andmind if you want to live a balanced, healthy life. To improve your mind-body health:

  • Relax your mind and body regularly: This helps you ward off stress, anxiety, depression, sleep problems and more. Try deep breathing (which helps your brain calm down and relax), guided imagery (imagining yourself in a serene setting), progressive muscle relaxation (which can alleviate sleeping problems), mindfulness meditation (awareness and acceptance of moment-to-moment experiences) or yoga
  • Laugh: Laughter increases creativity, reduces pain and speeds healing
  • Get enough sleep: Not getting quality sleep can increase your risk of accidents, high blood pressure and feeling depressed. Adequate sleep helps repair cells overnight that have been damaged by stress, fatigue and muscle strain
  • Find a physical activity that you enjoy.: Most people are happier, less stressed and sleep better when they’re active.

Staff Updates

Welcome to the CCSAO! We are happy to have you!

New Hires

Ileano Cano

Sheena Marin



Justin Higginbotham was promoted to Administrative Supervisor of the Felony Review Unit.

Gilberto Izaguirre was promoted to Administrative Supervisor of the Leads Unit. 




Congratulations to Gino Betts on his new position as Director of Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability.

External SAO Resources


The Illinois Department of Human Services/Division of Mental Health (IDHS/DMH) was awarded a grant from Vibrant, operator of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) to plan for the implementation of 9-8-8, a national three-digit dialing code for the Lifeline and for calls from individuals experiencing mental health crises.

9-8-8 is a direct line to trained call takers available to anyone experiencing a mental health crisis or suicidal thoughts, anywhere in the US, at any time to help find the support and help they need. It will serve as a core component of crisis care in the country, consistent with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's SAMHSA Crisis Services: Meeting Needs, Saving Lives initiative.


2023 Civic Leadership Academy

The application for the 2023 Civic Leadership Academy has officially launched! Are you a high-performing government or non-profit leader in Chicago or Cook County seeking rigorous leadership development at the University of Chicago? Apply today.

Applications are due by Monday, October 3, 2022.

Internal SAO Resources

Join an Employee Resource Group

Interested in joining one of the SAO’s employee resource groups? All are welcome to participate. Click here to fill out the digital ERG signup form or contact the group leaders below.

Immigration Services

Have a question about immigration? Feel free to contact Immigration Policy & Legal Advisor Michael Kasprzynski who is available to answer questions relating to collateral immigration consequences and victim services. More information about SAO immigration services can be found on the SAO website.

SAO Speaker’s Bureau

Did you know the SAO has a Speaker’s Bureau? If you know of a school, religious institution, community group, or organization that needs an overview, the SAO can provide a speaker to the group.

Speakers can speak on the below topics:

  • Youth Programs: Choose Not to Lose (Gang Awareness/Prevention), Conflict Resolution, Cyber Safety/Teen Dating Violence, Gang/Drug Awareness/Prevention, Hate Crimes, Identity Theft/ Consumer Fraud, Law for Life, and Youth Empowerment
  • Adult Programs: Consumer Fraud, Crimes Against Seniors, Cyber Safety for Parents, Domestic Violence, Identity Theft, Hate Crimes, Mortgage Fraud/ Troubled Buildings, and Senior Safety

Please have any interested person or group submit the attached request form to Christine Chan.

If you have been asked to speak at an event, please reach out to Christine who can also make sure you have the resources you need.

Suggestion Box

The anonymous suggestion box is open. Please share any comments, questions, or suggestions with the SAO executive team.

Ethics Questions

Have an ethics question? Please email Meriel Coleman for assistance. Attorneys can also call the ARDC Ethics Inquiry Hotline between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, at 312-565-2600 or 800-826-8625.


Please don’t forget that free counseling is available through the Cook County Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Call 800-327-7451 (TTY 711) to speak to someone confidentially.

Equal Employment Officer

Anyone experiencing or witnessing unlawful harassment, discrimination, or workplace bullying should email Donyelle Gray or call her at 312-603-3645. A copy of the SAO EEO Policy and an EEO Complaint Form can be found on the EEO Officer’s page on the SAO website.

Have any news to share about awards, recognitions, SAO events, criminal justice-related stories, or other personal news? Send the information by clicking here.