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One on one with former Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross

As the office is under new leadership, we sit down to see what’s next for J. Hanely’s predecessor.
Published: Dec. 2, 2020 at 6:33 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The year 2020 can be considered a challenging year for Winnebago County. That includes an increase in some of the crimes in the region. Throughout it all, now former state’s attorney Marilyn Hite Ross stood center stage seeking justice for victims.

“It’s not a regular job,” said former Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross. “Some days you can feel like you have the world on your shoulders, and you do being responsible for the hundreds of thousands of residents of Winnebago County, but I have strong shoulders.”

Hite Ross feels strongly about her time as state’s attorney, but is ready to move on.

“Everyone has a point in their career where there’s time for a change and this is my time,” said Hite Ross.

For many years Hite Ross worked as an assistant state’s attorney in Cook County. A position she says prepared her well for the issues facing the Rockford Region.

“I always say if I haven’t seen it it hasn’t happened, and I can tell you that there’s not any criminal matter that I have not faced before,” said Hite Ross.

Hite Ross’ time in Cook County also introduced her to someone who would later be a partner against crime Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea.

“I’ve known Marilyn just about my whole law enforcement career,” said O’Shea. “She was actually one of my prosecutors back in Cook County when I was a police officer back in Elgin.”

O’Shea says its important that the top cop and top prosecutor work together seamlessly. He says he values and respects her as a person and a leader.

“We don’t get to choose what’s popular or cave to pressure, and she never did,” said Chief O’Shea.

Hite Ross offers her support and well wishes to her replacement J. Hanley, but offers one piece of advice never take your job lightly.

“The office is the office of the people, and that’s how I’ve always considered it,” said Hite Ross. “And as leader of that office my duty is to serve the people which includes everyone in Winnebago County. It has been a blessing, an honor and a privilege to be of service.”

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