Jennifer Sommers

Jennifer Sommers worked in the criminal justice system for more than 26 years, before joining PERF in early 2023, including eleven years as a county prosecutor, nine years as a state prosecutor, and seven years as counsel to the largest multi-bureau sheriff’s office in New York.

At the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, in addition to duties such as training and policy review, Ms. Sommers worked closely with the Internal Affairs Bureau and conducted all disciplinary hearings and penalty arbitrations; a significant number of internal affairs complaints she reviewed and processed involved allegations of excessive use of force. Ms. Sommers maintained a perfect record on binding arbitration of all discipline delivered during her tenure. From 2015 until leaving to join PERF, Ms. Sommers worked in the Office of Special Investigation at the New York State Office of the Attorney General, ultimately holding the position of Upstate Supervising Chief, where she supervised all upstate attorneys and legal support analysts. While in that unit, she analyzed civilian deaths caused by police and peace officers to determine whether officers should be charged with crimes; in every case where an officer caused or contributed to a death and was not charged with a crime, the unit issued a transparent report, telling what took place, linking relevant video and audio, explaining the law, and, where appropriate, making recommendations. Ms. Sommers also worked for several years as a county prosecutor and rose to the level of Special Assistant District Attorney at the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office. During her time as a prosecutor, she tried nearly every category of violent crime, including physical and sexual assault, robbery, arson, and murder.

Ms. Sommers graduated from the SUNY Buffalo School of Law in 1996; prior to law school, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in chemistry from LeMoyne College, and a master’s degree in toxicology from the University of Rochester. Because her scientific background is unique within the legal profession, she regularly teaches at the national level on issues related to toxicology, most often, how to effectively investigate and prosecute drug and alcohol-facilitated sexual assault.