On January 25, 2024, the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender notified the Clerk of the Circuit Court, Iris Y. Martinez, and her staff that her Office had publicly exposed confidential juvenile records via their recently launched criminal case records search function on their website.  

The exposure of these juvenile records clearly violates the Juvenile Court Act, which provides that all juvenile case information must be kept confidential.  

On December 5, 2023, the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender filed an amicus brief in the Illinois Supreme Court case of People v. Gray, which addresses whether a past adult criminal conviction that would today be handled in juvenile court can serve as a predicate offense for purposes of charging someone under the armed habitual criminal statute.

The following op-ed was published in the Chicago Tribune on October 11, 2023. This month, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Director Marc Smith resigned. The conversation has since focused on DCFS failures to protect children in its care.

CHICAGO, Sept. 18, 2023 - Cook County Public Defender Sharone R. Mitchell, Jr., joined advocates, legislators, criminal legal system stakeholders and impacted people at a news conference on Monday morning marking the end of money bond in Illinois and the beginning of a more just pretrial system.

While celebrating a historic moment for a more equitable criminal legal system, Mitchell also pledged vigilance in making sure the Pretrial Fairness Act (PFA) is properly implemented.

CHICAGO, Sept. 14, 2023 -- On Sept. 18, the Pretrial Fairness Act will take full effect in Illinois, eliminating the use of money bond and redesigning pretrial processes to increase transparency in release and detention decisions. Cook County stands ready to implement all aspects of the Act, including the new initial appearance and detention hearing processes.

Block Club Chicago reporter Maxwell Evans wrote about our work to take take traditional criminal legal defense out of the courthouse and into the community to provide more collaborative representation and services. We will be launching our first community defense center, the Freedom Defense Center of Roseland, in 2024.

Click on the headline below to read the Block Club story:


Fiona Ortiz, Deputy of Communications

Cook County Public Defender's Office thrilled that SB424 and SB1886 are signed into law

The Cook County Public Defender’s Office is pleased that the Illinois Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Pretrial Fairness Act. Illinois can now end a great injustice that distorted the criminal legal system and move forward with removing the price tag from the presumption of innocence. 

The Cook County Public Defender's Office is featured in a short film about violence interruption.