Endorsement: Perillo in Democratic primary for Lake County state's attorney

  • Michael Perillo, left, and Matt Stanton, right, are candidates for 2016 Lake County state's attorney primary race.

    Michael Perillo, left, and Matt Stanton, right, are candidates for 2016 Lake County state's attorney primary race.

The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted2/17/2016 6:00 PM

Attorneys Michael J. Perillo Jr. and Matthew Stanton are seeking the March 15 Democratic primary nomination for Lake County state's attorney to challenge incumbent Republican Michael Nerheim in November.

Perillo, 60, of Grayslake, has been an attorney for more than 30 years, including as a Navy JAG officer and handling felony cases in the Lake County public defender and state's attorney's offices. He has been in private practice since 1992. He touts his legal experience and says he would lead by example in managing the state's attorney's office.


Stanton, 54, of Gurnee, has been an attorney for 10 years, all in private practice. He is also a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law. He says the office suffers from "institutional entrenchment" and needs someone committed to making change. For that reason, the that fact he hasn't previously worked in the office is a benefit, Stanton says.

Both candidates say more should be done to prevent wrongful convictions, and offer their own ideas.

Perillo says he would create an in-house committee of senior attorneys -- instead of Nerheim's outside volunteer panel -- to review and monitor prosecution of serious felony cases. It would meet monthly to ensure quality control of the cases. It would review past cases as necessary and provide written reports to the state's attorney. He may bring in outside council to review the reports, Perillo says.

Stanton says a complete office overhaul is needed. He says he'd ask for every employee's resignation, evaluate them and select the ones he wants to retain. He says Nerheim interviewed all 144 office employees when he took over, but replaced none.

Among other key issues, Perillo says he would maximize support staff effectiveness to help prosecutors work more efficiently. Stanton says he'd look to develop a deferred prosecution program similar to those in other counties, to reduce costs and recidivism.

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Also, Stanton has publicly said Nerheim should drop opposition to a new trial for convicted murderer Melissa Calusinski. That's a troubling position because her request for a new trial is pending in court.

We like Perillo's extensive legal experience and favor his more measured approach to addressing wrongful convictions.

Perillo is endorsed.

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