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At a Glance (as of 2013)

Percentage of state funding: 20%
Percentage of local funding: 80%
Percentage of alternative funding: 0%
State commission: yes – limited authority
Branch of government: judicial


Structure & Funding of Indigent Defense Services

The Office of the State Appellate Defender is a state-funded, statewide agency in the judicial branch representing indigent persons in criminal appeals. Although an appellate defender commission exists, it only serves to advise the chief appellate attorney on budgetary and policy matters. The justices of the state supreme court, in fact, select the State Appellate Defender. State support for trial-level right to counsel services in Illinois, however, is limited by comparison.


By state statute, counties with populations above 35,000 must maintain a county public defender office; 42 of the state’s 102 counties meet this threshold.  The remaining 60 select whatever method they so choose. In counties maintaining public defender offices (whether compelled or by choice) the chief public defender is selected either by the president of the county’s board of supervisors (in counties with more than 1 million residents) or by the presiding circuit court judge (everywhere else). The state covers 66.6% of the cost of the chief defender’s salary in each county with a standing public defender office. For everything else, the counties must determine for themselves how much to fund services with no oversight by the state.

Statutory Authority

725 ILCS 105/1 through 725 ILCS 105/11 (appellate defender); and, 725 ILCS 5/103 through 5/103-9

Source of data: original research conducted by Sixth Amendment Center staff, augmented by the American Bar Association, State, County and Local Expenditures for Indigent Defense Services: Fiscal Year 2008, November 2010, and the Illinois Office of the State Appellate Defender, Public Defender Directory.