Risa Lanier

Public servant with 23 years of extensive experience as a prosecutor and litigator. Dedicated to serving the community through a balanced and fair prosecutorial approach that addresses violence while also recognizing the need for non-traditional methods to provide support to those criminal justice involved individuals with specific needs. Uses a holistic approach to ensure safety within the communities served. Motivated visionary with experience in high level organizational management, strategic planning, and goal implementation. Effective emissary of the mission, vision, and values of the organization.

Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office                                           February 2000 – present

First Assistant (june 2021 – Present)

Provide strategic and operational oversight of the second largest prosecutor’s office in the country with over 1,200 employees and over 700 lawyers.  Direct all civil and criminal litigation strategies to effectively represent civil clients, promote public safety, and increase transparency and trust in the criminal justice system through the direct supervision of the Conviction Integrity Unit, Law Enforcement Accountability Division and Alternative Prosecutions Strategies Unit.  Oversee training and development for all office staff and instituted the first executive and senior leadership training program.  Work alongside members of the executive staff and the Cook County State’s Attorney for overall organizational management, internal and external communications, strategic planning, and goal implementation.

  • Instituted and currently oversee the first of its kind independent legal review panel for homicide convictions related to a subset of police officers involving allegations of torture and abuse. 
  • Develop standardized office-wide policies and procedures, such as the Search Warrant Review policy and process, and the First Appearance Court policy.
  • Engage with local and federal law enforcement partners on violence reduction efforts and partnerships, and with public officials, criminal justice stakeholders, community leaders, civic organizations, and community members on a variety of topics.  
  • Lead prosecutor for high profile cases, including the murder of Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer, and the murders of a family of six in the Gage Park neighborhood of Chicago, securing convictions in both cases.

Chief DEPUTY (December 2020 – May 2021)

Worked alongside the First Assistant in overseeing the operations of the office and directing all litigation strategies.  Directly supervised senior leadership of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, Special Prosecutions Bureau, Juvenile Justice Bureau, Civil Litigations Bureau, and Investigations Bureau.  Engaged with elected officials, law enforcement partners, community leaders, civic organizations, and community members on a variety of topics.  

  • Worked closely with criminal justice stakeholders to develop and implement Covid-19 court operating procedures during and post-pandemic shutdown.

Chief, Criminal Prosections BuReau (May 2018 – December 2020)

Oversaw and directed the criminal litigation efforts of the largest bureau in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.  Responsible for the training, development, and management of a staff of over 400 attorneys, including mid-level supervisors. Responsible for the placement of new hires and the transfers and promotions of criminal assistant state’s attorneys throughout the Criminal, Special Prosecutions and Juvenile Justice Bureaus.  Interfaced with law enforcement partners on prosecutorial strategies and engaged with criminal justice stakeholders, community partners and members on a variety of issues.

  • Created the Trial Technology Supervisor position responsible for officewide digitization, modernization, and advanced litigation-based technological training and support.

Deputy Chief, Criminal Prosecutions Bureau (March 2017 – May 2018)

Worked alongside the Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau in overseeing the operations and directing the litigation strategies of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau.  Directly supervised approximately 30 mid-level managers.  

  • Wrote the Reference Guide to Plea Agreements for the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau.  
  • Assisted the Chief Deputy in establishing the Brady committee and standardized review procedures for witnesses with adverse credibility findings. 
  • Worked with the Chief of Staff and a civic consulting group to establish performance management tools and procedures, as well as a formalized internal promotion process utilized office wide.  
  • Introduced the utilization of small working groups in the bureau for strategic planning in areas such as community engagement, attorney training and development, alignment with overall office goals, and innovation. 
  • Lead Prosecutor in the Facebook Torture case, resulting in a conviction.

Deputy Supervisor, Felony Review Unit (January 2016 – March 2017)

Trained and supervised teams of assistant state’s attorneys assigned to the felony review unit, which operates 25 hours and day, 7 days a week.  Oversaw charging decisions in all felony cases and worked directly with law enforcement partners on investigative strategies.  

  • Conducted roll call training of Chicago Police Officers on evidentiary collection and report documentation resulting in stronger case presentations.

Deputy Supervisor, Domestic Violence Unit (January 2015 – January 2016)

Trained and supervised assistant state’s attorneys assigned to the misdemeanor and felony domestic violence units within a vertical prosecution model. Served on a working group alongside the principals of the domestic violence agencies at the Domestic Violence Courthouse, including the Presiding Judge to plan and implement system wide procedures and to troubleshoot concerns. 

  • Instituted quarterly case reviews with stakeholders, including law enforcement, adult probation, and advocacy groups to develop and institute best practices in serving the survivors of domestic violence throughout the criminal justice process.  
  • Conducted trainings of new detectives at the Chicago Police Academy and local university law enforcement officers on domestic violence and stalking laws to increase understanding and build stronger cases.  
  • Led presentations and discussions at local elementary schools on cyber crimes and cyber bullying.  

Assistant State’s Attorney, criminal prosecutions bureau (February 2000- January 2015)

Prosecuted over a hundred misdemeanor and felony cases throughout a variety of assignments within the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, including Domestic Violence, Felony Review, Preliminary Hearings, and the Felony Trial Division.  Achieved the highest ranking of First Chair in the Felony Trial Division and prosecuted high profile murder cases, including the murder of Chicago Police Officer Thomas Wortham, III.  Managed a courtroom and junior staff members.  Wrote Appellate briefs and presented oral arguments before the Illinois Appellate Court, First District.


Juris Doctorate, Rutgers University School of Law, Camden, NJ, May  1999

Bachelor of Arts, Business Administration, Illinois State University, Normal, IL, 1996

Certificate: Civil Leadership Academy, University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy, Chicago, IL, 2018


Chicago Bar Association 

Board of Managers

Judicial Evaluation Committee, Chair 

Lawyers in the Classroom

National Black Prosecutors Association 

Cook County Bar Association

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®