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Public defender sues Stroger, says budget cuts stymie office.

Saturday, November 17, 2007
Daily Herald
by Rob Olmstead

The Cook County public defender filed suit against county President Todd Stroger Friday in an attempt to fight the president's budget cuts instituted at the beginning of the year.

Edwin A. Burnette claims that Stroger's layoffs of his staff make him unable to fulfill his constitutional duty to defend the indigent.

He is seeking an injunction allowing him to hire attorneys as he sees fit and also to ignore the president's mandate that
his supervisors take unpaid furlough days this year to help balance the budget.

A representative of Stroger's office could not be reached Friday evening for comment.

Taxpayers are footing the bill for the lawsuit. Burnette's office is represented by William H. Hooks, who has been designated a special state's attorney.

Earlier this year, Stroger's office asked a judge to appoint its own special state's attorney in relation to its dealings with the public defender's office.

Asked in September about the appointment and whether there was any disharmony between the public defender's office and the president, county officials denied it and said the attorney appointment was needed for a disgruntled criminal defendant who had been represented by the public defender's office and was now suing the county.



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