Organization and Duties of the DuPage County State's Attorney's Office
The State's Attorney's Office is organized into three Bureaus:
- Criminal Bureau
- Civil Bureau
- Administration Bureau
A brief description of the various divisions and units follows.
The Criminal Bureau prosecutes criminal matters on behalf of the State's Attorney. The Bureau is divided into five (5) divisions: Felony Trial, Special Prosecutions, Sexual Violence/Child Protection, Misdemeanor and Investigations. The Chief of the Criminal Bureau oversees all of the Criminal Division Assistant State's Attorneys and investigators. Each division is in turn supervised by a deputy chief of the division with the exception of Investigations which has its own Chief Investigator.
Felony Trial Division
The Felony Trial Division is comprised of the Assistant State's Attorneys who prosecute felonies in the six (6) felony courtrooms. There are three (3) Assistant State's Attorneys per courtroom who prosecute the cases assigned to that courtroom.
Special Prosecution Division
The Special Prosecution Division consists of specialized prosecution units that focus on types of crimes where vertical prosecution; cases handled by one (1) prosecutor from arrest to disposition, is the most effective approach.
- Narcotics Unit: The Narcotics Unit prosecutes crimes involving the possession and delivery of large quantities of drugs. The Narcotics Unit works in cooperation with the DuPage Metropolitan Enforcement Group (DuMEG) participating in pro-active investigations.
- Public Integrity/Financial Crimes Unit: The Public Integrity/Financial Crimes Unit investigates and prosecutes crimes involving public corruption and high-value and organized financial crimes. In addition, the Unit oversees all Article 36 vehicle forfeitures.
- Gang Crimes Unit: The State's Attorney has assigned Assistant State's Attorneys to work with local law enforcement officials to prosecute gang related crimes.
- Felony Screening Unit: In DuPage County, police officers and sheriff's deputies must obtain the approval of an Assistant State's Attorney prior to charging a defendant with a felony offense. To facilitate this process, a felony-level prosecutor is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year to review these potential felony prosecutions and authorize the filing of the appropriate criminal charges. The unit also assists law enforcement in the preparation of search warrants and eavesdrop orders. Three (3) Assistant State's Attorneys are assigned to the unit on a full-time basis and are responsible for screening duties their shifts.
Sexual Violence/Child Protection Division
- Juvenile/Family Justice: The Juvenile/Family Justice Unit handles all matters involving juvenile delinquency, abused and neglected minors and truancy. Assistant State's Attorneys who are assigned to the Unit cover two (2) courtrooms where all of the cases are assigned.
- Sexual Violence/Child Protection Unit: This Unit is comprised of five (5) Assistant State's Attorneys who vertically prosecute cases involving physical and sexual abuse of children as well as severe cases of domestic violence.
Misdemeanor and Traffic Division
The Misdemeanor Division is staffed by Assistant State's attorneys who prosecute all misdemeanor and traffic matters including driving under the influence, retail theft, battery, assault and disorderly conduct. The Division attorneys staff the nine (9) misdemeanor courtrooms in the main courthouse located at 505 N County Farm Road, Wheaton, Illinois and the four (4) traffic courtrooms located throughout the county.
Criminal Investigations Division
The State's Attorney's Office includes a team of investigators who assist the State's Attorney in the investigation of criminal offenses. In addition to conducting investigations, the Division is responsible for service of subpoenas, summons and warrants.
Since the General Assembly first appointed circuit attorneys shortly after Illinois's statehood, the holders of the office which evolved into the state constitutional office of State's Attorney in 1872 have carried the dual responsibility of prosecuting criminal cases and serving as the lawyer for their County and its officials. In fact, of the 13 primary duties of the State's Attorney set forth in Section 3-9005(a) of the Counties Code, 9 include duties unrelated to the State's Attorney's criminal prosecution function. The 15 assistant state's attorneys assigned to the Civil Bureau are responsible for assisting the State's Attorney carry out his non-criminal duties as well as numerous others established by other statutes or by judicial precedent.
While the Civil Bureau assigns its assistant state's attorneys to one of three divisions, General and Complex Litigation, Governmental Representation and Special Litigation, and Child Support Enforcement, the primary separation of duties among assistants exists between those the State's Attorney has specifically assigned to child support enforcement duties and those which he has assigned to all other duties. What follows is a non-exhaustive list highlighting the various tasks performed by Civil Bureau attorneys.
Child Support Enforcement
In cooperation with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, the Civil Bureau's Child Support Enforcement Division helps identify and locate non-custodial parents, establishes paternity and obtains financial support for the children of absent parents. These attorneys take appropriate action to obtain and enforce child support orders against adjudicated parents and separated or divorced parties. They petition the court to establish medical insurance coverage and to modify existing child support and enforcement orders. All families with children in need of financial support from an absent parent are eligible for child support enforcement services, whether or not they receive public aid. The millions of dollars collected through these efforts not only provide essential family support, but also save tax money that the State might otherwise allocate to welfare payments.
Civil Litigation and Collections
Despite their best efforts to resolve disputes amicably, attorneys in the Civil Bureau sometimes must file lawsuits to resolve disputes. Whether the matter involves uncorrected building or zoning violations, breach of contract disputes, environmental matters, or drug, gambling, gang or prostitution nuisance activity, Civil Bureau assistants zealously work to achieve favorable results for their clients and for the people of DuPage County. Attorneys also pursue the collection of outstanding debts owed to the County through litigation in the circuit court as well as in federal bankruptcy court. These debts stem from outstanding fines in criminal cases, damage to County property, such as road signs or traffic signals, reimbursement for the support and care from the parents or guardians of minors when the Court has ordered the County to treat or house their children in a juvenile detention facility, and reimbursement for care provided by the County's Convalescent Center.
Civil Proceedings Involving Persons with Mental Illnesses
Persons afflicted with certain mental illnesses may be unable to provide for their wellbeing and can unwillingly become a threat to themselves and to the community. In these instances, the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code authorizes the State's Attorney to represent the People of the State of Illinois in civil proceedings seeking the admission of persons with mental illnesses to a mental health facility on either an inpatient or an outpatient basis. The State's Attorney may also seek an order requiring the administration of medication to an adult with mental illness without the adult's informed consent. In each of these proceedings, the State's Attorney has the burden of proving the need for the person's involuntary admission or administration of medication by the clear and convincing standard of proof - a level higher than is required in most other civil actions. Except in emergency situations, the person whom the State's Attorney alleges requires involuntary admission or administration of medication has the right to counsel, and a lawyer from the Public Defenders' Office attends the hearings and is available for Court appointment, if necessary.
County Governmental Representation
With characteristics common and unique to state, municipal or township governments, Illinois county government is a combination of modern responses to new problems combined with structures and traditions dating back to the Norman conquest of England. Assistants in the Civil Bureau practice a very specialized variety of local government law and frequently must manage the nuances associated with representing the County and its officers. Civil Bureau attorneys attend meetings of the County Board and its committees providing legal advice concerning the drafting of contracts, County policies, ordinances and resolutions. They are also responsible for advising their clients on a range of topics including the Freedom of Information Act, health care privacy concerns, intergovernmental agreements, land use matters, labor and employment issues, legislative and parliamentary procedure, Medicaid reimbursement, the Open Meetings Act, the separation of powers among County officers and the transfer of County property.
Attorneys in the Civil Bureau defend the County and its officers against lawsuits that arise out of the course of their official duties. The State's Attorney defends the overwhelming majority of these cases, including personal injury or federal civil rights claims against the County or any other county official "in-house" - and in over 90 percent of civil rights cases, Assistant State's Attorneys have successfully obtained dismissal of the claims. While the State's Attorney retains outside counsel to represent the County in Workers Compensation Matters, he remains actively involved in and approves all proposed settlement offers.
Property Tax Matters
The State's Attorney serves as legal counsel to the Supervisor of Assessments as well as to the Board of Review. The Property Tax Code requires him to represent the County at hearings of the Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB) and in property tax objection matters and to defend claims against the Indemnity Fund. While the State's Attorney and his assistants are not able to assist individual taxpayers in matters regarding their property taxes, his staff frequently consults with the leadership of other taxing districts within the County to work collaboratively with them and their legal counsel in resolving assessment and tax rate objections as efficiently as possible.
The Administration Bureau is responsible for coordinating all administrative functions of the State's Attorney Office including management of a multi-million dollar annual budget and supervision of full time administrative staff.
The Administration Bureau is responsible for the preparation and administration of the State's Attorney annual budget, as well as the review and approval of all expenditures. Other financial responsibilities include planning, forecasting, and financial reporting to various agencies. In addition, the Administration Bureau is accountable for the management of forfeiture funds, contract and grant administration, and long range capital improvement program.
The Administration Bureau maintains all records related to office policies and compensation matters relating to the Office.
Administrative Support Services
The Administration Bureau oversees the support services to the Criminal and Civil Bureau of the State's Attorney Office in the form of non-attorney professional staff. The Bureau also provides automation, information retrieval and statistical information.
Information Systems/Records Management
An essential function of the Administration Bureau is to maintain and store criminal records in a centralized location for quick reference and retrieval relating to the thousands of criminal cases annually. In addition, digitizing all criminal records is an on-going project.
Facilities and Security
The Administration Bureau is responsible for the creation and maintenance of proper and safe work conditions for the State's Attorney personnel. This involves office renovations, space planning and design in order to insure the safety and security of all employees, witnesses, and the public.