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Chief judge names acting public guardian for Cook County

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Chicago Tribune
by Tony Briscoe

A longtime attorney with the Cook County public guardian's office will take over as acting public guardian, Chief Judge Timothy Evans announced Wednesday.

Charles Golbert has been an attorney for the public guardian's office for nearly 26 years and succeeds Robert Harris, who is stepping down after his appointment to a Circuit Court judgeship by the Illinois Supreme Court. Harris is to be sworn in as a judge Friday.

Harris started his career as a staff attorney with the office and took the public guardian's job in 2004. He has been an outspoken critic of shortfalls in Illinois' state child welfare agency and in the juvenile court system.

Golbert will oversee the office's 206 employees and a $21.9 million annual budget. The office acts as attorney and guardian for about 6,000 state wards in abuse and neglect proceedings as well as custody and divorce proceedings.

The public guardian also acts as the court-appointed guardian of adults with disabilities or their estates. The division manages about $100 million in estate assets and recovers stolen assets for clients.

"The public guardian and the attorneys in the office play a very important role for some of our most vulnerable residents ó adults with disabilities and abused or neglected children," Evans said in a statement Wednesday. "They speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, and they are dedicated advocates in the justice system."

Starting Monday, Evans will begin accepting applications for a permanent replacement for the position.

"While I will seek a permanent leader for the office, I am pleased to name Charles Golbert as the acting public guardian," Evans said. "I also want to thank Robert Harris for his service. I certainly welcome Robert to the judicial ranks, but his leadership and advocacy will be missed."

Twitter @_tonybriscoe

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