Podcast: Some Cook County Judges Often Deny Public Defenders When Defendants Post Bond - Heffernan WBEZ
Peter McCray sat in a Cook County courtroom in June after being charged with illegal possession of a prescription painkiller — a felony. He faced up to three years in prison.
He knew he had to pay $1,000 to get out of jail until his case was resolved. But what he didn’t know is that some Cook County judges often deny access to a free court-appointed lawyer, known as a public defender, once bond is posted. McCray got one of those judges.
WBEZ recently went to numerous courtrooms throughout Cook County and saw some judges routinely deny a public defender based on whether a defendant posted bond, a practice that some legal experts said is unconstitutional. This practice can add further financial burdens on cash-strapped defendants and even compromise their access to a fair trial, lawyers and criminal justice advocates said. Judges were advised by Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans in 2013 to stop denying public defenders purely on whether a defendant posted bond, but some judges have ignored Evans.
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