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updated: 3/16/2012 10:57 AM

Listen to truth about defense attorneys

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For the first time in 20 years, Lake County candidates for State's Attorney have been given the opportunity to run for this office without having to challenge the incumbent. Not only is this one of the most exciting races on the ballot, but it is also one of the most important.

Since I have experienced legal obstacles facing individuals on both sides of the criminal justice system, I understand the need to protect the rights of victims and the accused. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys play a key role in seeking justice and protecting the rights of all individuals.

Recently, I became aware of campaign mailers from a candidate who also runs the Lake County grand jury that condemns the rights a defendant has to receive a proper defense. When I first entered the criminal justice system after my daughter became a victim of a violent crime, I thought the defense attorney representing her offender was our enemy.

Ironically, the defense attorney had proved to be our ally in the case because he disclosed information that the prosecutor neglected to share with me which resulted in a longer prison sentence for her offender. To portray defense attorneys as though they make a living putting criminals on the streets is at the least a false and misleading representation of that profession.

The candidate who has been the target of these negative and inflammatory mailers has maintained his integrity by refusing to engage in dirty politics. I for one am grateful of the courtesy that the defense attorney extended to me on the morning of the sentencing hearing against my daughter's offender.

Otherwise, her offender would have been put on the streets in less time because the prosecutor had sought the minimum sentence. Contrary to the statements made in the campaign mailers, defense attorneys do not work to put criminals on the streets. In fact defense attorneys represent the rights of their clients who have been merely accused of a crime. In this Country, all citizens are entitled to a defense and to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Two years ago, the Lake County grand jury indicted my brother for an alleged offense that was committed in McHenry County and put our family in a crisis. After months of prosecution, the State's Attorney finally filed a motion to change venue because Lake County never had jurisdiction. The errors that were made by the candidate who runs the Lake County grand jury not only wasted taxpayer dollars, but also cost my brother his freedom and ruined his reputation -- even though the McHenry County prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case.

As voters go to the polls on March 20, please consider the endorsements that were issued by the Daily Herald and Chicago Tribune for Lake County State's Attorney.

I strongly support and endorse the same candidates for this office.

Denise Rotheimer

Ingleside