In February, a 23-question survey was devised by a sub-committee of the Task Force on Professional Practice in the Illinois Justice System and distributed to the public defenders in each of Illinois’ 102 counties by Illinois State Bar personnel. In Illinois, the majority of counties have county-funded trial public defender offices (by statute, counties with populations of 35,000 or more are required to have a public defender); the balance use either contract defenders or assigned counsel. The state funds the Office of State Appellate Defender, which has five regional offices throughout the state and handles all direct appeals, except for approximately 65% of the direct appeals filed in Cook County (Chicago).
The survey asked a broad range of questions related to the delivery of indigent defense services, including questions related to: public defender caseload; attorney staffing; attorney turnover; salaries; benefits; and, available technology. Additionally, the survey asked public defenders their opinion on the need for statewide indigent defense standards, mandatory continuing legal education and statewide oversight of defender services. A supplemental one-page survey instrument was distributed shortly thereafter, requesting information on public defender support staff (staffing levels and salaries) and expenditure data. The following analysis is based on all surveys received at the Illinois State Bar Association as of March 8, 2000.
Introduction: Survey Responses
The Illinois State Bar received 70 responses to the main survey, a response rate of over 68%. One of those surveys, one had to be discarded because of incomplete data. Therefore, the analysis is based on a response rate of 67.65% (69 of 102). Table 1-1 shows the distribution of responses by approximate population:
Response Received by Population Category
Approximate Population of County
Number of Responses
Percentage of Total
25,000 – 100,000
100,000 – 500,000
500,000 – 1,000,000
Statewide Public Defender