Three Democratic candidates vie for state’s attorney
Updated: April 2, 2012 8:04AM
Restricting plea deal negotiations for repeat offenders, restoring public faith in the office and creating a Conviction Integrity Unit Panel are among the goals the three Democrat candidates vying for the Lake County State’s Attorney post professed.
Chris Kennedy of Libertyville is a civil litigation attorney who worked as an assistant state’s attorney for four years.
Reginald Mathews of Lindenhurst is an assistant state’s attorney who also worked as a probation officer.
Karen Williams of Mundelein practices family, real estate and bankruptcy law since 2007.
Each outlined a specific vision for the State’s Attorney’s Office that includes policies on handling cases that involve DNA.
Kennedy wants to create a Conviction Integrity Unit to review DNA evidence and prevent wrongful convictions.
“The unit would oversee internal procedures, dealings with police agencies and training assistant state’s attorneys ... this is not just a panel. My idea is that you’re going to be looking at not just some post-conviction cases, but draw lessons and apply them going forward,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy, married and father of three, said he would want a senior prosecutor and investigator with no ties to a case to review cases with claims of innocence with DNA evidence. A panel would review procedures, protocol and training in the handling of DNA evidence.
Mathews said he wants to make sure all assistant state’s attorneys are properly trained to handle cases with DNA and to ensure that all police departments are using every available tool to use and test DNA.
“As far as the office itself, if a case involves DNA, I want to implement vertical prosecution and assign (one) prosecutor to the case all the way through,” Mathews said.
It is not uncommon for more than one prosecutor to handle a case at different stages in the case.
Like Mathews, Williams said she wanted to ensure proper procedures and technology were being utilized in DNA cases.
“I don’t think that a special task force should be assigned. It should be standard policy,” Williams said.
Williams, a mother of five, said she wants to restrict negotiations for repeat offenders.
“The No. 1 priority right now, considering what’s been going on, is making sure we’re prosecuting the real criminals,” Williams said. “If the people of Lake County vote for me, they would get someone who is passionate about justice and someone who is passionate about the people.”
Kennedy said creating the Conviction Integrity Unit would be his top priority. He also wants to establish a special unit to handle sex crimes.
“Offenders have high recidivism rates and these can be hard cases to prove. The danger of re offense means you to spend special attention,” Kennedy said.
He has been a prosecutor and civil trial attorney as well as worked as an advocate for children with disabilities.
“I think I’ve got the best background for making the kinds of changes that are needed in this office,” Kennedy said.
Mathews has more than 13 years of service between his prosecution and probation officer experience.
“My No. 1 (priority) if elected would be to restore the public faith in the state’s attorney’s office,” Mathews said. “Being visible and accessible and communicating to the public will go a long way in restoring the public faith.”
Mathews is married and the father of four.
“The No. 1 thing people want out of the State’s Attorney’s Office is justice. I have been committed to seeking justice,” Mathews said.