Mike Nerheim

Mike Nerheim

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, Mike oversees an office of 136 attorneys, investigators, victim coordinators, paralegals, and support staff, plus two certified comfort dogs, one electronic detection dog and a corps of volunteers.

Upon assuming office in December 2012 Mike immediately began delivering on his campaign promises 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. Mike developed a countywide opioid prevention strategy and co-founded the nationally-recognized Lake County Opioid Initiative.

Mike 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.

Mike 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, Mike 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.

Mike 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.

Mike 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, 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, Mike 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.

Mike 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.”

Mike has demonstrated strong leadership and business experience, and is extensively involved in the Lake County community. In addition to chairing the Opioid Initiative, he 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, Northeast Illinois Council Boy Scouts of America, Former Inmates Striving Together (F.I.S.T.) and Arden Shore Child and Family Services. He serves on the College of Lake County Criminal Justice advisory board and the advisory boards for Lake County Crime Stoppers and Staben House. Mike is a former member of the National Commission on Forensic Science Sub-Committee on Human Factors in Washington, D.C. Mike 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. Mike is the Judge Advocate, Lake County Council of the Navy League of the United States and serves as Teen Court Judge in Warren Township.

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

He has received a number of prestigious awards and accolades.


  • 2019 Friend of the Organization Award/Lake County Chiefs of Police Association
  • 2018 Distinguished Partner of the Year/UBNI
  • 2017 State’s Attorney of the Year/Illinois State Crime Commission
  • 2016 Whitney M. Young, Jr. Service Award/Boy Scouts of America
  • 2016 Judge Robert S. Smith Jr. Humanitarian Award/Red Mass Committee
  • 2016 Law Enforcement InnovationAward/Lake County Municipal League.
  • 2015 Justinian of the Year/Coalition to Reduce Recidivism
  • 2015 Executive Director’s Award/Lake County Juvenile Officer’s Association
  • 2014 State’s Attorney of the Year/Illinois State Crime Commission
  • 2014 Frederic Milton Thrasher Award/National Gang Crime Research Center
  • 2014 Moxie Award/Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA)
  • 2014 Community Leadership Award/2014 Overdose Awareness Day Planning Committee
  • 2013 Person of the Year/United Hellenic Voters of America