Case Review Panel and Prosecution Protocol and Conviction Review Unit

In an effort to protect the innocently accused, Lake County State’s Attorney Michael G. Nerheim created the Case Review Panel and Prosecution Protocol and Conviction Review Unit. The Case Review Panel is comprised of volunteer attorneys not employed by the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office.

The Case Review Panel was implemented as an effort to address the issue of wrongful convictions. No prosecutor wants to see a person wrongfully convicted. State's Attorney Nerheim, along with all assistant state's attorneys, are interested in seeking justice.  The attorneys strive to ensure justice for victims and their families, while at the same time protecting the rights of the defendants.

The independent Case Review Panel is supplemented by an in-house Prosecution Protocol and Conviction Review Unit.

The Conviction Review Panel (CRP), and the Prosecution Protocol and Conviction Review Unit (CRU), commonly referred to as CRU are established for the review of convicted offender's legitimate extra judicial, post-conviction claims of innocence. The CRU's additional goal is to seek to identify causes of wrongful convictions and establish protocols and training for prosecutors, making them aware of the pitfalls which appear to be the most prevalent causes of wrongful convictions to avoid these issues in future cases. The CRU is comprised of a Division Chief who oversees the overall case process, a Record Supervisor, an Investigator, and three experienced Assistant State's Attorney's. The Division Chief reports directly to the State's Attorney. 

The CRP and the CRU do not accept every case where someone makes a bare claim of innocence. The CRU will review every application for review, however generally, a claim must contain new relevant evidence that was not known at the time of trial, new or old relevant evidence that was untested, or some other evidence of innocence or that a person was wrongly convicted. The general accepted criteria to be met includes:

  1. The conviction must have originated from Lake County.
  2. The offender must be a living person.
  3. There must be a claim of actual innocence.
  4. The claim must not be patently frivolous.
  5. There must be new and credible evidence offered.  
Requests and referrals for innocence reviews should be made in writing by either:

  1. Defendant;
  2. Family member;
  3. Defendant's Attorney; or
  4. An Innocence Project
All initial requests received by the Lake County State's Attorney's Office shall be forwarded to the Chief of the Prosecution Protocol and Conviction Review Unit (CRU). Once the request is received by the Lake County State's Attorney's Office, an acknowledgement letter will be sent to the defendant with a recommendation to first contact an Innocence Project to ensure his or her rights are protected. The defendant is provided possible referrals with contact information. Should the defendant still wish to contact the CRU directly, an application for review with a waiver and consent will be forwarded to the defendant to be completed, signed, and returned.

If the CRU accepts an application for review, it will be forwarded to the Conviction Review Panel (CRP) to begin their review which will run concurrent with, but independent of the continuing CRU evaluation. Should the CRU accept an application for further review, such acceptance does not indicate that any particular result will occur, nor does such acceptance signify a position of the State's Attorney's Office with respect to the validity of any conviction.

To inquire further, or obtain an application for review, you can click on the link below or contact the Lake County State's Attorney's Office in writing at the address indicated below:

Prosecution Protocol and Conviction Review Unit
Lake County State's Attorney's Office
18 N. County Street, 5th Floor
Waukegan, IL 60085

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