Matthew Jannusch, an Assistant State Attorney with the Cook County State Attorney’s Office for the past 18 years, currently works in the Office’s Community Justice Unit. He works to reduce violence in Chicago neighborhoods through data-driven prosecution and is additionally tasked with reaching out to at-risk and marginalized populations, including but not limited to homeless youth, people affected by mental illness, and transgender people of color. Jannusch first joined the National LGBT Bar as a member of the host committee that brought the Lavender Law® Conference and Career Fair to Chicago in 2007. While serving on the host committee, Jannusch worked hard to get letters of support from local politicians that were friendly to LGBTQ+ causes and even received a letter of support for the event from then-Senator Barack Obama. Since then, he has been an active recruiter at many Lavender Law® Conferences and is a founding member of the Prosecutors Caucus at the conference, helping raise criminal prosecutor presence at the event.
Concerning the Lavender Law® Conference, Jannusch notes that, “It’s interesting to me that I meet people from the Chicago market at the annual conference that I don’t necessarily see at events in Chicago….[I]t’s so great that the National LGBT Bar Association is able to attract such a diverse group of talented people from across the nation and harness that collective knowledge and bring it together at the Lavender Law® Conference. I think it is such a great benefit to our LGBTQ+ community.”
Jannusch’s work with the National LGBT Bar Association’s fledgling Prosecutors Caucus has been very rewarding, especially when it came to the great turnout at the caucus’ inaugural meeting in New York at the 2018 Lavender Law ® Conference. Since its recent founding, members of the caucus have successfully submitted and executed a continuing legal education (CLE) workshop and provided a prosecutor’s perspective in a variety of other panel discussions on topics pertaining to criminal law, diversity in the workforce, and career search strategies. It is also the goal of the caucus to provide its members with a mentoring program and future networking events.
Jannusch has previously held assignments within the State’s Attorney’s Office in the Felony Trial Division, Domestic Violence, Mortgage Fraud, Public Corruption, Financial Crimes, and was a supervisor in the Child Support Enforcement Division. He now works in the area of community justice and outreach.
“Community justice is an area I’ve wanted to work in for many many years,” Jannusch states, adding that it’s a great way to help prevent crime. His position also allows him to reach out to communities who often lack trust in the criminal justice system. Violence against transgender people of color, access to justice for homeless youth, and a better understanding of mental illness and those affected by it are some of the areas Jannusch wants to facilitate a greater understanding about through outreach and partnering with community stakeholders.
What sets Jannusch’s job apart from others is his focus on data-driven prosecution, looking at statistics and determining where violence is happening in order to initiate focused reform and creative solutions. This way, he can use this data to go in-depth into every case and every background in order to determine if the violent crime being analyzed is random or part of a larger, systemic problem that needs to be addressed. Being assigned to the Community Justice Unit enables him to make the biggest impact in his community when it comes to reducing violence.
Jannusch is a member of over ten bar associations, utilizing Chicago’s unique landscape of bar associations to expand his diversity experience. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago (LAGBAC) and chairs both the Diversity and Nominations Committees. He is also an active member of many more bar associations including the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, among others. He currently holds the office of President of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group which is part of the larger Diversity and Inclusion Initiative at that office. He also supports many charitable organizations and social causes and is currently a member of the Junior Board for the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind, one of Chicago’s oldest charitable organizations, that raises funds to help blind and visually-impaired children.
Whether it’s speaking on CLE panels, mentoring law students, or actively participating in countless bar associations and boards, it’s no surprise that Jannusch was recently awarded the Outstanding Service Award from the College of Law at Northern Illinois University due to his contributions to the community and the legal profession. The National LGBT Bar is honored to recognize such a dedicated public servant as one of our outstanding members for this month!