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3 women appointed to key leadership positions in state’s attorney’s office

The state’s attorney’s office called the appointments a “history-making move,” noting it was the first time the positions will simultaneously be held by women.

Incumbent Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx smiles as she walks off stage at the end of her election night remarks at the Hotel Essex Chicago after winning in the Democratic primary, Tuesday night, March 17, 2020.
Incumbent Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx smiles as she walks off stage at the end of her election night remarks at the Hotel Essex Chicago after winning in the Democratic primary, Tuesday night, March 17, 2020.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Three key leadership positions in the Cook County state’s attorney’s office will be held by women for the first time in history, the office announced Wednesday.

The appointments of Jennifer Coleman as first assistant, Risa Lanier as chief deputy and Natosha Toller as bureau chief of criminal prosecutions were announced two days after Kim Foxx was sworn in for her second term as the county’s top prosecutor.

The state’s attorney’s office called the appointments a “history-making move,” noting it was the first time the positions will simultaneously be held by women.

“I am excited to have the experience of these veteran prosecutors as a part of my executive leadership team to advance the critical work of this office,” Foxx said in a statement. “Their dedication to public service and commitment to their colleagues and staff is exemplary which will serve this administration well, as we continue our renewed focus on criminal justice reform for the people of Cook County.”

Coleman is a 25-year veteran of the prosecutor’s office, having previously worked in the domestic violence, felony review and narcotics divisions. She replaces former Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats, who retired in November.

Lanier has successfully prosecuted several high-profile cases, including the trial of Shomari Legghette who was convicted of murdering Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer. She was also the first Black woman to lead the office’s criminal prosecutors bureau.

Toller has been a prosecutor with the office for 15 years, previously serving as deputy supervisor for the felony review division.

Foxx, during her virtual swearing-in ceremony, said she was proud of her accomplishments during her first term and pledged to continue her efforts to improve the criminal justice system.

Foxx said she will divulge more details for her second-term agenda after meeting with community leaders. However, she pointed in Wednesday’s announcement that staffing changes would “facilitate [the office] moving toward our goal.”

Foxx handily beat her Republican opponent Pat O’Brien, a former Cook County judge, and a Libertarian challenger on Nov. 3 by claiming more than 53% of the vote in spite of the vocal opposition from the union representing Chicago police officers, as well as widespread criticism of her handling of the Jussie Smollett case.

As the the state legalized recreational marijuana this year, Foxx has been praised for expunging thousands of marijuana charges off of people’s records.