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County Commissioners Split on Public Defender

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Next week, some Cook County commissioners are expected to vote on a resolution to fire the county’s public defender.

A majority of county commissioners agree that public defender Ed Burnette’s been slow to promote some employees and hasn’t disciplined others allegedly deserved it. Commissioner Tony Peraica is one of those pushing to fire Burnette.

PERAICA: I think a picture emerges of someone who is not willing to stand up and advocate for his office.

But others say Burnette’s being punished for defending that office. Burnette sued President Stroger last year after the board approved major cuts to the public defender’s budget. County Commisioner Forrest Claypool says that’s the real reason for the call to fire Burnette.

CLAYPOOL: You know, unless they can come up with more specifics than they’re offering in this resolution, I think it’s clearly a case of political retribution.

The public defender’s office provides legal representation to those who can’t afford it.

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