NAPD Strike Force Update – Bloomington, Illinois
In August, Bloomington, Illinois chief Public Defender Kim Campbell allegedly "resigned" from her position after having a brief conversation with the chief judge of the circuit that including Bloomington and Normal, Illinois. Ms. Campbell obtained a pro bono lawyer, who contacted NAPD seeking our help. The head of the NAPD Strike Force, Fred Friedman of Duluth, Minnesota, investigated the matter, met with the lawyer and with Ms. Campbell.
Upon completion of his investigation, he recommended that NAPD issue a statement asking for Ms. Campbell's reinstatement.
The investigation revealed that in a ten minute meeting with Chief Judge Robb, Ms. Campbell was told she could was either fired or could resign. This is inconsistent with the state statute, which states that chief defenders are to be hired and fired by all the judges on the circuit bench. Some of the circuit judges have been reported to have no knowledge or to have taken no part in this forced resignation.
NAPD's biggest concern was that the firing of Ms. Campbell occurred in violation of Principle #1 of the ABA Ten Principles of a Public Defender Delivery System (2002). It reads that the "public defense function, including the selection, funding, and payment of defense counsel, is independent." The commentary goes on to state that the "public defense function should be independent from political influence and subject to judicial supervision only in the same manner and to the same extent as retained counsel."
Interestingly, locally elected States Attorney Chambers has asked for a special prosecutor to investigate the public defender office. He makes the claim that the prosecutor is and will be neutral and independent in this matter even though a contract defender ran against Chambers and was fired as well. Of course Chambers was not in the room when Chief Judge Robb alone told Campbell she could resign or be fired. Campbell was given no due process, no opportunity to confront her accusers and has never had a negative review.
NAPD takes the position that an independent board or commission should oversee the public defense function, including the hiring, supervising, and firing of the chief public defender. I take the position that NAPD must stand up and be counted when public defender independence is attacked and our own members are denied due process.
Click here for the NAPD Press Release