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County balks at $485-an-hour fee for employee's lawyer

Thursday, October 05, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON Staff Reporter

With federal investigators swarming Cook County government, commissioners say they've got to do a better job of getting the word out to employees who could be subpoenaed about the limits in hiring a private attorney.

Commissioner Mike Quigley jokingly suggested "The Indictment News" as a way to inform employees of the rules.

$185 an hour is the limit
The issue arose as commissioners were asked during Wednesday's meeting to approve a $10,480 bill from attorney John Simon, who represented former Commissioner Al Carr before a federal grand jury investigating corruption tied to a hospital contract.

Simon billed more than the $185-an-hour limit the county will pay for an attorney, but the County Board grudgingly approved it because the legal work was already done.

Earlier this week, the county rejected a request from an employee to pay an attorney's $485-an-hour fee.

Though any county employee subpoenaed for documents or testimony tied to their county job is entitled to have legal fees paid by the county, commissioners said more need to know that entitlement has limitations.



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