Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
  Cook County Hospital fills more outpatient prescriptions every day than are filled at 26 Walgreen's drug store combined.
   
     
     
     



Brain drain of prosecutors in Cook County.

Monday, July 02, 2007
Chicago Tribune
by Dennis Byrne

From any reasonable point of view, there should be some balance between how much the public pays to
prosecute criminals and free the indigent innocent.

That's not the case in Cook County, where assistant state's attorneys are paid less than public
defenders. It's not because public defenders are paid too much; they earn every penny they make for the
important job of representing defendants who cannot afford counsel. Rather it's because when compared
with prosecutors in the nation's other large counties, assistant state's attorneys here are underpaid
and overworked.

Cook County assistant state's attorneys have disproportionately heavier caseloads than in other large
counties. Here they close more cases and have more statutory duties.

The disparities are causing more assistant state's attorneys, including some "first chairs" or lead
prosecutors, to leave for better paying jobs, while making the recruitment of new prosecutors more
difficult, Cook County State's Atty. Richard Devine said in an interview. "The balance in the criminal
justice system is vital. When you tilt it and higher pay goes for defense than for prosecution, then
we've got problems. We're seeing an accelerated rate of resignations; it isn't dramatic yet, but I
anticipate that we'll see a brain drain."

How it got this way is clouded in the arcane politics of the Cook County Board, where political
preservation and advancement seem to trump the public interest at nearly every turn.

*When the board passed the budget in February, the state's attorney's office lost 100 people (out of a
staff of about 800), including 44 prosecutors and 10 investigators. With about 540 lawyers, the public
defender's office is smaller, but it lost proportionately fewer lawyers than the state's attorney's
office.

*The typical prosecutor's annual pay before then was about $63,000, compared with $73,000 for public
defenders. Since then, prosecutors received a raise that would bring them closer to "parity" with the
public defenders, but they still lag about 8 percent behind. This while the total number of active
felony cases per attorney is 50 in the public defender's office and 109 in the state's attorney's
office.

*In Cook County, the prosecutor's office costs each citizen $23.07, which is in the low-end among
big-county annual costs and compares with Manhattan's $48.97 and San Diego County's $43.62. The average
caseload each prosecutor carries in Cook County is 600.17, among the nation's highest, which compares
with San Diego's 88.32. The average number of filings per prosecutor here is 533, also among the
highest, compared with San Diego's 150. The average number of cases closed per prosecutor here is 434
misdemeanor cases and 73 felony cases, also among the nation's highest, compared with San Diego's 32
misdemeanors and 46 felonies.

With the defections, declining staff, large workload and static salary, morale in the office is
"horrible," said state's attorney spokesman John Gorman. But morale could improve if the County Board,
at one of its two July meetings, approves a cost-of-living increase that would help catch them up. The
$8.7 million needed, Gorman said, could come from the county's "814 account," which is money set aside
for raises for county employees. Apparently how much is in the account is somewhat foggy, as Gorman
said, "we've heard figures from $37 million to $16 million." There may be enough votes to pass the
raise, but a veto by County Board President Todd Stroger would require a four-fifths vote of
commissioners to override, a virtual impossibility. The county's budget is heavy with red ink and
opponents of a raise for prosecutors easily could depict achieving parity between assistant state's
attorneys and public defenders as just another special interest pleading. Indeed, striking a balance
between all the needs competing for county money is a challenge for even the most dedicated County
Board and skillful County Board president, let alone for Stroger.

Yet, Devine sees salary parity as a high priority compared with other needs because an effective
criminal justice system requires balance between resources for the prosecution and the defense.

"Prosecutors can vote with their feet," he said, "and unless the County Board acts, we will have a loss
of talent that will seriously impact the prosecution of criminals in this county."



Recent Headlines

Cook County circuit clerk says city owes $13M in fees
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Chciago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County faces $177 million in deficits over next two budget years
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Preckwinkle: Cook County facing 'difficult and challenging' $82 million budget shortfall
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle: $82M Budget Hole Means ‘Difficult Choices’ For Cook County
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Editorial: A Chicago revival: The Lazarus of Harrison Street
Friday, June 15, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Growing food, community
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Help Squad: Consumers can file lawsuits and other legal documents online —some free via an online fee waiver
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Residents speak out as Wilmette Board introduces minimum wage and sick time ordinances
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

County's bid to avoid attorney fees for paraplegic detainee backfires
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County Forest Preserves Show Off To Visitors At Daley Plaza
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
WBBW News Radio

Peek Inside the Old Cook County Hospital, Vacant for 16 Years
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
NBC Chicago

After 16 years, renovation underway at old Cook County Hospital
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
WGN Television

Officials break ground on $1 billion overhaul of long-vacant Cook County Hospital
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

George Leighton, legendary Chicago judge and courthouse namesake, dies at 105
Thursday, June 07, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

George Leighton, Chicago judge for whom criminal courthouse is named, dies at 105
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County allows video gambling in unincorporated areas
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Backpage.com lawsuit against Cook County sheriff dismissed
Saturday, June 02, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Dorothy Brown’s office to get federal monitor for hiring practices
Friday, June 01, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Coyote puppies tagged, health work-ups conducted in the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Thursday, May 31, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

EDITORIAL: Justice delayed 16 months — until a reporter starts nosing around
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP