Anita Alvarez

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Anita Alvarez
Anita Alvarez
Cook County State's Attorney
Incumbent
Assumed office
2008
Preceded by Richard A. Devine
Personal details
Born January 16, 1960
Chicago
Political party Democratic
Residence River Forest, Illinois
Alma mater Maria High School
Loyola University Chicago
Chicago-Kent College of Law
Occupation Attorney

Anita Alvarez is the State's Attorney for Cook County, Illinois.[1] Alvarez is the first Hispanic woman elected to this position,[2] after being the first Latina to win the Democratic nomination for state attorney of Cook County.[3][4]

Background[edit]

A Chicago native, Anita Alvarez was born and raised by working class parents in the Pilsen neighborhood. She attended Maria High School and received her undergraduate degree from Loyola University of Chicago. Alvarez earned her Law Degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law.[citation needed]

Alvarez has spent her entire legal career in the State’s Attorney’s Office. Alvarez began her career as an Assistant State’s Attorney in 1986. She has argued before the Illinois Appellate Court and tried more than 50 felony jury trials. Prior to entering the race for Cook County State’s Attorney, she served as Chief Deputy State’s Attorney; Chief of Staff to the Cook County State's Attorney; Chief of the Special Prosecutions Bureau; Deputy Chief of the Narcotics Bureau, and Supervisor of the Public Integrity Unit. She also spent 3 ½ years in the Gang Crimes Unit where she prosecuted gang-related homicides.[citation needed]

Alvarez was promoted to the Supervisor of the Public Integrity Unit in 1996, where she was responsible for prosecuting city, county, and state employees who committed felonies and violated the public trust. She personally tried police officers on corruption charges. In 1999, she was promoted to Deputy Chief of the Narcotics Bureau where she supervised the prosecution of drug cases as well as long-term narcotics investigations in conjunction with Chicago and suburban police departments.[citation needed]

In 2001, Alvarez tried the case of the People of the State of Illinois v. Patrick Sykes, which was commonly referred to in widespread media as the ‘Girl X” Case. Her successful prosecution of Sykes resulted in his conviction for the predatory criminal sexual assault of a 9- year-old-girl who was left paralyzed, blind, without speech and confined to a wheelchair after the brutal attack in the Cabrini Green housing project. Alvarez was elected Cook County State’s Attorney in 2008. She was the first female, first Hispanic, and first career prosecutor ever elected to this important public safety position. At her swearing-in ceremony as State’s Attorney, Anita acknowledged Shatoya Currie.[citation needed]

State's Attorney[edit]

In her first five years on the job Alvarez has worked to stem the tide of gang and gun violence by drafting a new law that has increased criminal penalties for gang members arrested with guns. Gang members convicted under the new law face a mandatory prison sentence and are no longer eligible for parole.[5] In addition, Alvarez has stepped up the investigation and prosecution of public and government corruption; opened three new community-based prosecutions offices, and formed a mortgage fraud investigations and prosecutions unit. She also created a Human Trafficking Initiative that works closely with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to crack down on individuals and human trafficking groups that exploit children. She also authored the Illinois Safe Children Act, a sweeping new law that enhances protections for juveniles caught in the sex trade and provides new legal tools for police and prosecutors to target those who prostitute children.[6]

Alvarez was interviewed in a 2012 60 Minutes report entitled Chicago: The false confession capital. In it, she defends police conduct in two cases involving false confessions where courts vacated the convictions and gave certificates of innocence to the defendants. Despite the courts' actions and the lack of DNA evidence, Alvarez says in the interview, "I don't know whether he committed the crime or not. There are still unanswered questions in both of these cases that I couldn't sit here and tell you today that they're all guilty or they're all innocent." She admits that in one of the rape cases, they did not find any of the boys' DNA on the victim or in the basement of the house where the crime occurred. In the other case, the DNA that was found was matched to a convicted rapist. Peter Neufeld, of The Innocence Project, says prosecutors rejected the new evidence and suggested necrophilia (having sex with a dead person) as a possible explanation for why a convicted rapist's DNA may have come in contact with the victim. Alvarez, in response, says, "It's possible. We have seen cases like that."[7]

Cook County State's Attorney Alvarez is defending Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios in a suit against Berrios filed in 2001 by Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard. Blanchard is seeking a response from Berrios to a subpoena requesting documents related to a manager in Berrios' office obtaining two exemptions intended for a primary residence. Berrios ignored the subpoena, claiming that the County Inspector General has no authority over him.[8]

Alvarez had prosecuted individuals under the Eavesdropping Act for recording police in public. Chris Drew recorded his non-violent arrest for street peddling of art. The peddling charge was dropped and Alvarez pursued the much harsher charge of recording police officers voice's without their permission.[9] This charge could have a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.[10] Criminal Courts Judge Stanley Sacks dismissed the case on 2 March 2012, stating that the eavesdropping law was unconstitutional and that it was to broad and criminalized innocent behavior. Alvarez announced that she would appeal the ruling.[11] The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois successfully sued Anita Alvarez and she was ordered to stop prosecuting the ACLU employees and their agents under the Illinois Eavesdropping Act.[12] Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled that the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, 720 ILCS 5/14, violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution when used as a method to prevent the open recording of law enforcement's audible communications in public places while performing official duties, or the communications of others that are incidentally captured.[13] It was ruled that Cook County would have to pay the legal fees of the ACLU which amounted to $645,549.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Alvarez is married to Dr. James Gomez and has four children.[citation needed]

Electoral History[edit]

  • 2008 Democratic Primary
2008 Democratic Primary for the Office for Cook County State's Attorney
Candidate Votes Percentage
Anita Alvarez 138,187 24.96%
Tom Allen 131,298 23.72%
Howard B. Brookins Jr. 125,000 22.58%
Larry Suffredin 110,295 19.92%
Robert J. Milan 27,576 4.98%
Tommy H. Brewer 21,289 3.85%
  • 2008 General Election

Anita Alvarez was elected as Cook County State's Attorney in November 2008. Alvarez faced two challengers from both the Republican and Green Party in November 2008's general election. The two challengers were Cook County Commissioner for the 16th district Tony Peraica, and the Green Party's Thomas O'Brien.

  • 2012 General Election

Alvarez was reelected to a second term as Cook County State's Attorney in 2012 after defeating Republican challenger Lori Yokoyama. Alvarez won 77% of the vote.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Message from the State's Attorney
  2. ^ Alvarez sworn in as state's attorney www.chicagobreakingnews.com Retrieved: 2010-04-08.
  3. ^ Alvarez get Democrat nod for Cook County state's attorney www.dailyherald.com Retrieved: 2010-04-08.
  4. ^ Alvarez Wins Democratic State's Attorney Race cbs2chicago.com Retrieved: 2010-04-08.
  5. ^ http://www3.illinois.gov/PressReleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=2&RecNum=8076
  6. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/us/14cncpredators.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
  7. ^ Pitts, Byron (December 9, 2012). "Chicago: The false confession capital". 60 Minutes (CBS News). Retrieved 2014-01-16. 
  8. ^ Mihalopoulos, Dan; Donovan, Lisa (March 18, 2013). "Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios also facing a second court fight in dispute over authority". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved July 1, 2013. 
  9. ^ Bechtol, Nancy (January 17, 2010). "Chris Drew, street artist, faces class 1 felony eavesdropping charges after selling art for $1". American Press Association. Retrieved February 12, 2014. 
  10. ^ Terry, Don (January 22, 2011). "Eavesdropping Laws Mean That Turning On an Audio Recorder Could Send You to Prison". The New York Times. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  11. ^ Protess, David (March 6, 2012). "He Fought the Law -- And the Law Lost". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  12. ^ Donovan, Lisa; Schlikerman, Becky (March 15, 2013). "Cook County taxpayers will be billed $645,000 for ACLU's eavesdropping suit". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 12, 2014. 
  13. ^ "United States District Court of the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division Case: 1:10-cv-05235 Document #: 83". January 14, 2013. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  14. ^ Guess, Megan (May 17, 2013). "Illinois county to pay ACLU $600K after high court voids eavesdropping law". arstechnica. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  15. ^ http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/elections/all/State_s_Attorney_-_Cook_County__-176476621.html

External links[edit]