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Prosecutor's Office Needs more Black Attorneys

Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Chicago Defender,
by Kathy Chaney

Long-awaited pay increases for county prosecutors was approved yesterday by Cook County
Board President Todd Stroger, but some say too few Black prosecutors are on the list.

Stroger said the raises call for an 8 percent cost-of-living adjustment, retroactive to
2004, and a $500 bonus for prosecutors. While the news of the approved increase was a
sigh of relief for those who lobbied for it during the past few weeks, several clergy
leaders and elected officials blasted Cook County States Attorney Richard Devine for
the lack of diversity in his office. Retired Judge R. Eugene Pincham and Bishop Larry
D. Trotter led the charge outside of Stroger’s office that called for more inclusion of
Black attorneys in an office that overwhelmingly prosecutes Blacks. Pincham and Trotter
said only less than 10 percent of the prosecutors are Black and that Devine has not
appointed any African-American first-chairs during his ten-year tenure. Of the 854
prosecutors employed by the county, 62 -- or 7 percent -- are Black, and, 37 out of 159
investigators in Devine’s office are Black.

County Commissioner William Beavers (D-4) told the Defender that the dismal figures
prompted him to draft a resolution to increase the numbers. The resolution cited
demographic data for Cook County in 2004: “56.3 percent whites, 26.5 percent blacks or
African Americans, and 21.9 percent Hispanic or Latinos.” Beavers said the percentage
of Black attorneys available in the court system should mirror the percentage of Blacks
in the county. “Devine claims he can’t find qualified Blacks.

In this day and age, come on,” Beavers told the Defender. Beavers said there is no
reason why Devine should come up short on hiring Black prosecutors. He said are too
many qualified Black attorneys, and law students, who dream about working as a
prosecutor. “He needs to find a way to do better recruiting,” Beavers said. 

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