All data is current as of 2013, unless otherwise noted.
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How the right to counsel is administered and structured

State commission: yes – limited authority
Branch of government: judicial

Trial-level right to counsel services are a county obligation.

The Office of the State Appellate Defender is a state-funded, statewide agency in the judicial branch representing indigent persons in criminal appeals. The justices of the Illinois Supreme Court select the State Appellate Defender. Although an appellate defender commission exists, it only serves to advise the chief appellate attorney on budgetary and policy matters.


How the right to counsel is funded

Percentage of state funding: 20%
Percentage of local funding: 80%
Percentage of alternative funding: 0%

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.

The methods used to provide public counsel

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 counties select whatever method they so choose.

In counties that have a public defender office (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).


Legal authority

Illinois Constitution, art. 1, § 8

Illinois Compiled Statutes, 55 ILCS §§ 5/3-4000 through 5/3-4012 (county public defenders and appointed counsel), and 725 ILCS §§ 5/113-3 through 5/113-3.1 (notice and appointment of counsel), and  725 ILCS §§ 105/1 through 105/11 (state appellate defender)

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.