Anita Alvarez is the former State’s Attorney for Cook County, Illinois. Alvarez made history in 2008 as she was elected into the public safety position as the first female, first Hispanic State’s Attorney, and first career prosecutor to be the Cook County State’s Attorney.
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Education, Teachings, and Memberships
Anita Alvarez earned her undergraduate degree from the Loyola University of Chicago and subsequently earned her Juris Doctorate from the Chicago-Kent College of Law. She is an active member of various bar associations, including serving as the 2009 President of the Chicago Bar Association – one of the oldest and largest metropolitan bar associations in the nation. Furthermore, Ms. Alvarez was the National President of the National Hispanic Prosecutors Association, in which she was a founding member. From 2004 to 2006, she served on the board of the Leadership Greater Chicago and later became a Board of Trustees member for the Fenwick High School, as she is also an active alumna of the Maria High School. Anita Alvarez has also been an active guest speaker and lecturer and was also an Adjunct Professor at the John Marshall Law School from 2002 to 2005.
In 1986, Anita Alvarez began her 20-year service to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. She was first an Assistant State’s Attorney. Alvarez handled numerous and various criminal cases, including prosecuting criminal sexual assaults and domestic violence, robbery, narcotics, and homicide, among other felony cases. With this, she began working her up through the ranks.
After ten years, in 1996, Anita Alvarez was promoted to be the Supervisor of the Public Integrity Unit. She was put in a position to oversee and manage public service employees’ prosecutions throughout the city, county, and state in relation to felonies and violations of public trust. Three years later, Ms. Alvarez became Deputy Chief of Narcotics Prosecution Bureau, supervising long-term investigations and prosecutions involving narcotics, working in conjunction with the Chicago and suburban police departments.
Some of her Important Prosecutions
The substantive and prowess of Anita Alvarez in prosecution have brought her to successful litigations and convictions, among which is the famous case she handled, known as the ‘Girl X’ Case in widespread media. The case involved Patrick Sykes, who was later convicted for the predatory criminal sexual assault of Shatoya Currie, who was brutally attacked in the Cabrini Green housing project. The 9-year-old girl suffered traumatic injuries that resulted in paralysis, blindness, speech impairment, and disability. With the enormous and kind help of Ms. Alvarez, Shatoya Currie was able to face the court to declare his attacker guilty of allegations. The year 2001 was full of monumental challenges for both Anita Alvarez and Ms. Currie, and both were able to struggle through it.
Before being the Cook County State’s Attorney, Anita Alvarez has spent more than 20 years in service. She once served as the Chief Deputy State’s Attorney, the Chief of Staff to the Cook County State’s Attorney, and the Chief of Special Prosecutions a Bureau. Additionally, Alvarez was Deputy Chief of the Narcotics Bureau, the Supervisor of the Public Integrity Unit. She spent about four years in the Gang Crimes Unit of the Cook County State’s Office.
Honors and Awards
The entire legal career of Anita Alvarez has centered around providing excellent public service to Cook County, in which she was well recognized and awarded. In 2001, she was named by the Chicago Lawyer Magazine as the Person of the Year. Same year Alvarez was awarded for her outstanding work on the Girl X case by the Council for Disability Rights. The following year, she was recognized and was awarded the Professional Achievement Award by the Chicago-Kent College of Law. In 2005, Anita Alvarez was again awarded the Person of the Year and States Attorney of the Year, but this time by the Latin American Police Association and the Illinois State Crime Commission.
Office Jurisdiction and Contributions
As the former Cook County State’s Attorney, Anita Alvarez oversaw the second-largest prosecutor’s office in the United States. With the help of over 900 attorneys and 1,500 support personnel, Ms. Alvarez has made vital changes in the office and the state. In this capacity, she has significantly developed and established public safety initiatives, including the “Street Gang Rico” and the law that substantially increases monetary penalties for street gang members arrested for possession of guns, both of which target the illegal activities and structures of gangs.
Anita Alvarez’s dedication to the Cook County State has been repeatedly demonstrated through her exceptional work and public service. In addition to her efforts in combating narcotics in the community, she has also provided evidence-based programs that offer specialized services to persons with mental health needs, veterans, and first-time felony offenders. Some of the main contributions as the Cook County State’s Attorney includes forming the pioneer Conviction Integrity Unit that highlights the ongoing reviews and reopening of investigations of cases, as well as pioneering the Human Trafficking Initiative that puts focus on investigating and prosecuting human trafficking groups, which exploits children.
Despite having effective alternatives to the traditional prosecution and incarceration of non-violent offenders, Anita Alvarez also provided an emphasis on other public safety initiatives. The most significant ones include instigating and writing the Illinois Safe Children Act, which aims to enhance protection procedures for juveniles caught in the sex trade and strengthened prosecution process targeting individuals and groups that exploit and prostitute children. Anita Alvarez has, in her more than 20 years of service to the state, indeed, provided remarkable service to the Cook County State.