Training and mentoring are deeply ingrained in the culture of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. We want our prosecutors to be the best lawyers in any courtroom they enter; to work toward that goal, our training programs not only focus on legal skills and trial advocacy, we also stress ethics, professionalism and a strong sense of justice. More than 200 of our Assistant State’s Attorneys have been admitted to the Capital Litigation Trial Bar, an exclusive group of the most experienced criminal law practitioners in the State of Illinois that can try death penalty cases. We are proud of our level of professionalism and believe that through our extensive and robust training program, we are better able to serve the county’s citizens.
When the Illinois Supreme Court first required continuing legal education (CLE) for all Illinois attorneys in 2005, we were well-equipped to respond. Because of our long tradition of training, the Office was the first government agency in Illinois to become an accredited CLE provider. Overall, the office was one of the first 25 legal organizations or firms in the state to achieve accreditation.
The office is also a leader in education at the national level. Numerous supervisors and ASAs have made presentations at training seminars conducted by the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), the American Prosecutors Research Institute, and the National College of District Attorneys. In 2006, the NDAA recognized the Office for its commitment to training. The State’s Attorney was invited to author a chapter on training for a national manual prepared for all prosecutors in the United States by the NDAA.
Our office earned its reputation partly because of the hundreds of training programs we conduct every year, including unit, division, bureau, and office-wide seminars. In 2006, for example, we conducted 109 major training seminars approved for CLE credit by the Illinois Supreme Court’s Minimum Continuing Legal Education Board. In addition to these formal seminars, the office conducts hundreds of informal unit meetings where supervisors present and review case law, new legislation, policy matters, computer training, and other issues with their staff.
We employ some of the most experienced criminal trial lawyers in the U.S. and many of those veteran prosecutors devote time and effort to educate newer lawyers. Young prosecutors do not just learn from their supervisors – they learn from each other, too. One great advantage is the “on the job” training that goes on daily. Our ASAs are always assigned partners and work together, sharing their knowledge and experiences every day. When they first join the office, new attorneys must complete a 15-hour basic skills and orientation course.
The office also actively participates with other Illinois prosecutors in statewide training. Our Office staff assist in conducting annual summer and winter conferences sponsored by the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association for all prosecutors’ offices in Illinois. State’s Attorney Office supervisors are frequently invited to lecture on topics relating to criminal law and procedure at the Chicago Police Department’s Police Academy, and also conduct regular seminars for the 125 suburban police departments in the five suburban court districts within Cook County. Our prosecutors are often asked to make presentations to other criminal justice agencies, such as Cook County Adult Probation Department.
The Office also participates in a number of state committees and commissions, which are initiated by the Illinois General Assembly and the Illinois Supreme Court, that are dedicated to legal reform and improvement of the criminal and juvenile justice systems. We devote hundreds of staff hours to research, and often draft new legislation and policies that improve the justice system. The Office also actively participates in numerous community educational forums designed to increase citizens’ knowledge and awareness of legal issues.
Ethics and professionalism are major components in training programs and during 2007 and 2008, every ASA received at least four hours of training on those topics. We also stay focused on diversity awareness and inclusion training. The State’s Attorney, along with the office’s senior management, has received this training and there is a plan to have all office staff undergo it.
All ASAs must attend a minimum of at least 24 hours of continuing legal education every two years. Each of our ASAs who have been admitted to the Capital Litigation Trial Bar must take 12 hours of CLE every two years to maintain membership in the specialized bar. More than 70 percent of our prosecutors are “very satisfied” with their jobs, and many describe their supervisors as “skilled mentors,” according to an independent study of Chicago’s felony courts.*
* A Report on Chicago’s Felony Courts, the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice, Criminal Justice Project, December 2007
CLE Training Programs
ORIENTATION & PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILTY
- Ethics and Professional Responsibility Training
- Diversity and Inclusion Training
- Update on new CLE Rules
- Conflict of Interest Rules
- New ASA Orientation and Basic Skills Course
TRIAL ADVOCACY & TRAINING
- New ASA Trial Advocacy
- Basic Cross Examination
- Third Chair Training
CRIMINAL LAW & PROCEDURE TRAINING
- Motion Practice in Criminal Cases
- Search Warrants
- Selected Topics in Criminal Law
- Proffers, Cooperating Witnesses and Defendants Who Want To Give Information
- Witness Immunity
- Other Crimes Evidence
- Using Law Enforcement Databases for Trial
- Gunshot Residue Evidence
- Fitness and Sanity Issues
- Sex Crimes Law Update
- Financial Crimes
- Domestic Violence
- Child Pornography and Internet Sex Crimes
- Juvenile Law Update
JUVENILE JUSTICE & CHILD LAW
- Screening Juvenile Delinquency Cases
- Screening and Charging Decisions
- Child Protection Law-Parenting
- Child Protection Law- Views from the Bench
- DCFS Regulations
- Drug Treatment
- Child Witness
- Child Protection Law
- Termination of Parental Rights
- Expert Witness
- Delinquency Diversion Programs
- Discovery Obligations
- Understanding Tax Returns for the Self-Employed
- Prosecuting Child Abuse Cases
- Courtroom Technology
- PowerPoint for Trial Presentation
TRAFFIC & DUI CASES
- DUI Prosecution
- DUI Alcohol and Drug Evaluations
- Traffic Law Update
- Animal Abuse Prosecutions
- Appellate Law Update
- Post Conviction Law Update
- Narcotics Law Update
- Prosecuting Drug Cases Update
- Alternative Prosecution and Sentencing Initiatives –Drug Cases
- Parole, Clemency and Mandatory Supervised Release
- Adult Probation – Interstate and Intrastate Compact
- Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
- Local Law Enforcement Response to Terrorism
- Improving the Argument in Your Brief
- Post-Conviction Hearings
- Oral Argument in Federal Court
- Juvenile Law Update
- Legislative Update
CIVIL LAW TRAINING*
- Understanding Tax Returns for the Self-Employed
- Electronic Discovery
- Civil Discovery
*The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office supplements training for its civil attorneys by purchasing memberships with the Chicago Bar Association, which provides unlimited continuing legal education programs for our ASAs.
CAPITAL LITIGATION TRIAL BAR
- Association of Government Attorneys in Capital Litigation (AGACL)
- Office of the Illinois State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor.