Risa Lanier speaks to reporters Aug. 10 at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times
Risa Lanier has argued several high-profile cases for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, and replaces Jennifer Coleman, who was forced to resign from the position in May after only five months in the role.
A veteran Cook County prosecutor has been appointed first assistant to State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Foxx’s office announced Friday.
Risa Lanier has been with the state’s attorney’s office for more than 20 years and has prosecuted several high-profile cases, including the state’s case against Shomari Legghette, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison last year for the murder of Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer.
Lanier was promoted after overseeing the office’s Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, where she became the first Black woman to serve in that role when she was appointed last December.
“Risa’s unwavering commitment to a fair and equitable criminal justice system is demonstrated not only by her continued progression in our office, but also through her mentorship and leadership to colleagues both in and out of the office,” Foxx said in a statement.
Lanier will be responsible for advising Foxx and supervising top staff positions in the office.
Lanier’s predecessor, former First Assistant Jennifer Coleman, was forced out in May — five months after she was appointed — amid fallout from the police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo.
Coleman resigned after an internal investigation found she failed to review a statement read in court by a fellow prosecutor during a bond hearing for Roman Ruben. Ruben, who was arrested at the scene of Toledo’s shooting and was allegedly seen on surveillance video firing the initial shots that drew police, was charged with weapons violations and child endangerment.
The court statement, known as a bond proffer, did not specifically mention that Toledo appeared to have tossed a weapon he was seen holding as he ran from an officer a moment before the officer shot him. That led to accusations prosecutors had left out a key piece of information during Roman’s bond hearing after video footage of the encounter was subsequently released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigates accusation of officers’ use of force.
The child endangerment charge against Roman has since been dropped. He is on house arrest while awaiting trial for the weapons offenses, court records show.
Coleman now works as a senior policy advisor for Cook County, according to her LinkedIn profile.