Nicole Rice focuses her practice in the defense of complex toxic tort and product liability claims, with particular emphasis in trial work. She has substantial courtroom and trial experience and participates in all phases of the litigation process. Ms. Rice's clients include manufacturers of industrial and commercial equipment.
Ms. Rice entered private practice when she joined Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in April 2013. In 2008 she began her legal career in public service as an Assistant State's Attorney in St. Clair County, Illinois, in the Domestic Violence Division. She became Supervisor of the Traffic and Misdemeanor Division, and then moved to the General Felony Division. Ms. Rice is now licensed to practice in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, as well as Illinois.
During law school, Ms. Rice was an intern in the legal department of the Department of Children and Family Services in Cook County, Illinois. Ms. Rice's law school accomplishments included membership in the International Law Society and the Women’s Law Forum. She was a member of the Women’s Intramural Football Team and the Christian Legal Society, and volunteered with the Immigration Detention Center. She is a member of the Alpha Gamma Delta Alumni Association.
- St. Clair County Bar Association
During her tenure as an Illinois Assistant State's Attorney, Ms. Rice prosecuted more than 500 felony cases, and tried 20 cases to jury verdict. A selection of her representative cases includes:
- Lead counsel in a trial involving a 2007 first degree murder of a young man in Cahokia, Illinois. There were no independent eye witnesses to the murder and no forensic evidence was found at the crime scene. Working with local police and law enforcement agencies, the prosecution team was able to identify three men who were all involved. It took four years until the State was able to charge the case and by the time it went to trial, a total of nearly six years had lapsed. The defense argued that the only witnesses to this crime were admitted co-defendants who actively participated in the crime and that his client’s DNA and fingerprints were never found at the scene. In addition, his client never admitted to even being at the scene or knowing anything about the murder. Ms. Rice was able to develop her case by showing the consistencies in each co-defendant’s testimony (which was secured prior to trial) and in their ability to recall minute details of that night. The jury found the defendant guilty of not only first degree murder, but also that the defendant personally discharged the murder weapon, thereby triggering a 25-year sentencing enhancement. The defendant is currently serving a 45-year sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
- Secured guilty verdict in a jury trial involving a man who went into an East St. Louis laundromat to steal copper wiring. Defense argued that there were no forensics found at the scene, his client told police he was just walking in the area, and there were no eye witnesses to the crime. The jury returned a verdict of guilty.
- Represented the People of the State of Illinois in a case in which a 21-year-old male forced his way into an 18-year-old girl’s car while she was in a drive-thru ordering food. He demanded that she drive him to a local hotel, claiming he had a gun. Defense argued that the victim, who waited close to an hour to contact local police, willingly gave him a ride and his client never threatened her. The State argued that the victim did not know this man, had never known him, and was terrified by his threatening behavior that night. The jury returned a verdict of guilty after eight minutes of deliberations.
- Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Parish and Liturgical Councils, Member