Sunday, April 5, 2009

Public Defender can dictate staff, judge says

Chi-Town Daily News:
Cook County Board President Todd H. Stroger's efforts to trim his budget by laying off public defenders broke the law, according to a state appellate court decision.

The opinion by Judge Robert E. Gordon found that Cook County Public Defender Edwin Burnette -- and not Stroger -- had the power to hire and fire staff.

The Tuesday decision came one day before the end of Burnette's first and only term as public defender.

In 2007, Stroger attempted to balance the county's budget by cutting Burnette's staff. Burnette sued, alleging that such staffing decisions are reserved for the public defender as the head of an independent public agency.

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