Meet Michael G. Nerheim

Lake County State’s Attorney Michael G. Nerheim discusses his goals and priorities in this edition of Lake County Update. Some of his initiatives include an independent case review panel, the alternative prosecution program for first time non-violent offenders, and maintaining open communication between his office and the public.

Mike Nerheim was chosen by voters in the November 2012 election to serve as Lake County State’s Attorney. 

About the Lake County State's Attorney

Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim is a dedicated public servant, family man and active member of the community. He is recognized for vigorously prosecuting violators of the law and respecting the rights of victims and the accused while ensuring justice for all.

As State’s Attorney, he oversees an office of 144 attorneys, investigators, victim coordinators, paralegals, and support staff, plus two certified comfort dogs and a corps of volunteers.

Upon assuming office in December 2012 State’s Attorney Nerheim  worked to make the office more efficient, effective, and transparent. He is focused on preventing wrongful convictions, working with law enforcement to address the huge surge in gangs and gang violence in our community, and restoring the public’s trust in the office. He developed a countywide opioid prevention strategy and co-founded the Lake County Opioid Initiative.


State’s Attorney Nerheim began his legal career in 1999 as an Assistant State’s Attorney. He has extensive experience working in all criminal divisions of the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office, handling every type of case including traffic, misdemeanor, domestic violence, criminal sexual assault, drug trafficking, gang-related crimes, crimes against children and the elderly, official misconduct, and murder.

State’s Attorney Nerheim is an experienced prosecutor and former defense attorney with more than 20 years of experience and perspective on both sides of the law. His in-depth experience includes not only criminal law, but also areas of complex civil litigation and municipal law. As a private practitioner, he was appointed by the courts to investigate post-conviction issues and has represented indigent defendants.

As a former Assistant State’s Attorney and defense attorney, and now as State’s Attorney, he is respected by the defense bar, victim advocates, and federal, state and local law enforcement. 

Pursuing Justice, not Convictions

State’s Attorney Nerheim created a first-of-its-kind Case Review Panel consisting of volunteer legal professionals, some from outside of Lake County, who bring a wide range of experience. As an independent review board, the panel’s duty is to focus on the issue of wrongful convictions. When the panel receives claims that evidence exists to support actual innocence, they review and investigate the veracity of the claimed evidence. An in-house Conviction Integrity Unit, made up of senior-level staff, supplements the Independent Case Review Panel. Additionally, he created a Citizens Advisory Board comprised of a diverse group of community leaders who engage the public on key issues related to crime, public safety, and restoring trust in the criminal justice system.

As a former Assistant State’s Attorney and defense attorney, and now as State’s Attorney, he is respected by the defense bar, victim advocates, and federal, state and local law enforcement.

State’s Attorney Nerheim hosts and participates in numerous educational and public safety forums across Lake County. He also is frequently called upon to lecture nationally on a variety of criminal justice issues, including gangs, conviction integrity, and the opioid epidemic. He is on the faculty at Columbia College of Missouri where he teaches “The Laws of Evidence," “Ethics in Law Enforcement,” and "Victims in the Criminal Justice System."

Community Leadership


State’s Attorney Nerheim has demonstrated strong leadership and business experience, and is extensively involved in the Lake County community. He is Chairman and Co-Founder of the Lake County Opioid Initiative, and chairs the Lake County Domestic Violence Council, the Lake County Sexual Assault Council, and the Lake County Juvenile Justice Council. He was appointed as Co-Chairman of the Suburban Anti-Heroin Task Force and co-chairs the Executive Committee for Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois. In December 2018, he was elected by his colleagues in the Second Judicial District to serve on the Board of Governors of the Illinois Office of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor and was elected by members statewide to serve on the Executive Committee of the Illinois State's Attorney's Association. He is on the board of directors of Nicasa, Lake County Bar Foundation, United Way of Lake County, Northeast Illinois Council Boy Scouts of America, Arden Shore Child and Family Services, and Former Inmates Striving Together (F.I.S.T.). He serves on the College of Lake County Criminal Justice advisory board and the advisory boards for Lake County Crime Stoppers and Staben House. State's Attorney Nerheim is a former member of the National Commission on Forensic Science Sub-Committee on Human Factors in Washington DC. He is a member of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Reform Commission, the Illinois Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking and Reporting Commission, the Lake County After School Coalition, and the Lake County Underage Drinking and Drug Prevention Task Force. State's Attorney Nerheim is The Judge Advocate, Lake County Council of the Navy League of the United States, and serves as Teen Court Judge in Warren Township.

He is a member of the Lake County Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association.

2017 and 2014 State’s Attorney of the Year


State's Attorney Nerheim was awarded the 2017 and 2014 State’s Attorney of the Year by the Illinois State Crime Commission. In 2016 he was the recipient of the Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award by the Boy Scouts of America, 2016 Judge Robert S. Smith Jr. Humanitarian Award by Red Mass Committee, and the 2016 Law Enforcement Innovation Award by Lake County Municipal League. Furthermore, he was named the 2015 Justinian of the Year by the Coalition to Reduce Recidivism, and received the 2015 Executive Director's Award by the Lake County Juvenile Officer's Association. In 2014, he was awarded, the 2014 Frederic Milton Thrasher Award from the National Gang Crime Research Center for outstanding leadership in prosecution, and the 2014 Moxie Award from the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) for supporting sexual assault victims and justice through the criminal justice system. State's Attorney Nerheim was recognized with the 2014 Community Leadership Award from the Overdose Awareness Day Planning Committee and the 2013 Home for the Holidays Award from Waukegan Township for his dedicated service and commitment to the Eddie Washington Center and Staben House. Lastly, he was awarded the 2013 Person of the Year Award by the United Hellenic Voters of America.

Additional Information

State’s Attorney Nerheim is a lifelong resident of Lake County. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Psychology from Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota and earned his Juris Doctor, Cum Laude, from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois.