So Todd Stroger wants every department in Cook County to cut their budgets by, like 17%. And that includes the Public Defenders Office. At first it seemed like the PD's office would refuse to comply. But they've had a change of ummm.... uhhhh...heart? Like, overnight. I'd LOVE to know how that happened. Suffice it to say that politics in Chicago are rarely as they seem.
I am shocked. I am angry. I don't understand. How? Why? Has Mr. Stroger been down to 26th and California before? Does he know it by the numbers and statistics or has he ever actually SEEN it? Has he ever gone down and sat in bond court (for one example) for even 20 minutes just to get a taste of what goes on and how a 17% cut would impact the system? It's going to be chaos. Utter chaos.
So let me see if I get this right (If I'm wrong, please tell me because I'm stumped):
New Assistant public defender, been in the office for a year. He took the job because it was something he felt deeply passionate about. He took the job KNOWING how difficult it will be to pay off his student loans, because government jobs just don't pay a huge amount, but again he does it because he loves it and because it's noble and because it's important. He gains valuable trial experience. He works his ass off.
New Associate at private firm, been in the office for about a year. Has a six figure starting salary. Took the job because he knew he had to pay off his student loans, and with his salary, that could be done in a couple years. Also works his ass off. But he doesn't get a lot of trial experience at this stage of his career.
Todd Stroger calls for a 17% budget cut of the PD's office. The PD's office complies, resulting in about 50 assistant public defenders being laid off.
A little something called Gideon v. Wainwright means that a defendant has a right to counsel. Currently, this is not something Cook County is exempt from providing its defendants.
Cook County no longer HAS the resources to provide all of its defendants with this right.
Cook County has to hire private attorneys AT A HIGHER RATE, to fill the shoes of the pd's they've laid off, doing nothing to solve the budget deficit.
Because he's the most expendable, the new associate at the private law firm with very little or no trial experience, is assigned by the partners to fill the shoes of the laid off PD, but with a higher salary (that the government pays), and less practical trial experience, potentially doing an incredible disservice to the client.
The laid off PD tries to get a new job, but he's too green to have any move really be considered a lateral move, and too old to be in competition with the students who are hired during their second year of law school.
The result? A complete disaster and miscarriage of justice for everyone involved. Any possible incentive for law students to work in ANY government job goes out the window.
But somewhere in the mix, Todd Stroger gets his own private elevator.
P.S. I know that I may have made some disparaging remarks about some of the fashion choices of public defenders. It doesn't mean I don't think that they do one of the most noble jobs in the world. And I respect them, and admire their integrity, and now I pray for them. Not like I really pray. But you know what I mean. They still could do something about the split ends. It's just silly.