CHICAGO (CBS) — As summer heats up and fears increase of a spike in the murder rate in Chicago, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office is changing the way it handles murder cases.
The goal of the change is to get a higher murder convictions rate.
For decades, murder cases in Cook County have been handled by multiple lawyers in the state’s attorney’s office – different lawyers for every phase of the prosecution.
Now, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said that’s changing.
She said an experienced prosecutor will handle each murder cases from investigation through trial and sentencing, instead of multiple attorneys taking over at different phases.
“The true goal is to ensure that we’re able to find a guilty verdict at the end of these cases,” Foxx said.
“We can’t afford to continue to do things in the way that we’ve done them before – in the wake of the violence we’re seeing in the city of Chicago.”
The system is called “vertical prosecution,” and Foxx said other large metropolitan areas have had success with it.
“We wanted to get this started…as the summer season began to be able to provide that level of support to our law enforcement partners.”
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson stood with Foxx as she announced the new system.
“It’s my hope that this will increase homicide convictions, and along with the latest resources we’ve added to the crime fight, will make a gun offender think twice before picking up a gun and pulling the trigger,” Johnson said.
Foxx said her office is reorganizing and will have enough lawyers for the new vertical prosecution system.