Here is the text of the complaint filed by Council 31 in the Burnette v. Stroger matter:
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS
COUNTY DEPARTMENT, CHANCERY DIVISION
THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES, COUNCIL 31
Plaintiff complains against Defendant as follows:
1. The Plaintiff in this action is Council 31 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (“AFSCME Council 31”). Council 31 is a statewide labor organization representing over 70,000 members in the State of Illinois. Council 31 represents several hundred employees in the Office of the Cook County Public Defender (“the Public Defender”), including those in the classifications of Assistant Public Defender I, II, III and IV. Council 31 also represents investigators and other support staff employees of the Public Defender whose services are essential for the Office to implement its statutory mission.
2. The employees represented by AFSCME have designated Council 31 to be their exclusive bargaining representative with respect to the wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment. AFSCME Council 31 therefore has standing to bring this lawsuit on their behalf.
3. The Assistant Public Defenders represented by Plaintiff AFSCME are responsible for representing indigent defendants who have been accused of crimes and in certain civil matters. Accordingly, the Assistant Public Defenders represented by Plaintiff AFSCME who work for the Public Defender handled approximately three hundred thousand felony and misdemeanor cases for poor defendants last year. The Assistant Public Defenders represented by AFSCME are organized into approximately 15 different divisions and work out offices in Chicago, Markham, Bridgeview, Skokie, Maywood, and Rolling Meadows. Similarly the investigators employed by the Public Defender and represented by AFSCME handled over 150,000 assignments last year.
4. The Office of the Public Defender is an independent agency within Cook County government. It is currently headed by Edwin A. Burnette. The powers and obligations of the Office and of the Public Defender are defined in 55 Illinois Compiled Laws, Section 5/3-4000 et. seq. In particular, 55 ILCS 5/3-4008.1 provides that the “compensation of and the appropriate number of assistants, clerks and employees [in the Office of the Public Defender] shall be fixed by the County Board and paid out of the County Treasury.”
5. The Defendant in this action is Todd Stroger. Stroger is the President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. As President he has the responsibility to implement the annual budget enacted by the Board of Commissioners and to properly administer several departments in Cook County, including the Office of the Public Defender.
6. The 2007 budget enacted by the County Board of Commissioners appropriated funds for 465 Assistant Public Defender I, II, III and IV positions in the Office of the Public Defender.
7. Immediately after the appropriation measure was enacted, Defendant Stroger withheld funding for 34 positions within the Office of the Public Defender. These positions included 13 Assistant Public Defenders represented by AFSCME, 4 Assistant Public Defenders who were supervisors and/or managers and 17 support staff. This refusal to honor the appropriation ordinance caused the layoff of 13 Assistant Public Defenders and 13 support staff. These layoffs were illegal because they contravened the budget appropriations measure enacted by the Cook County Board of Commissioners. These layoffs were implemented in April 2007.
8. In addition to causing the layoffs set forth in the preceding paragraph, Defendant Stroger has refused to allow the Public Defender to fill vacant positions. The result has been that the total number of attorneys in the office has decreased by 42 positions since the end of 2006. This number includes 32 lawyers who are in the classifications represented by AFSCME and 10 supervisor/managers. Defendant Stroger’s refusal to allow the filling of vacant positions has also resulted in a decrease in the number of investigators and support staff.
9. The impact of the decrease in the number of attorneys has been to increase the caseloads of the remaining Assistant Public Defenders. Consequently, the caseloads of the Assistant Public Defenders now greatly exceed the recommended caseloads for Public Defenders as established by recognized standard setting agencies such as the American Bar Association. The Assistant Public Defenders assigned to felony courtrooms now have caseloads which average 60% more than the caseloads recommended by national standards. The Assistant Public Defenders assigned to misdemeanor courtrooms now have caseloads which average more than 400% than the caseloads recommended by national standards.
(Relief for Illegal Layoffs)
This Count is brought by AFSCME on behalf the Assistant Public Defenders and the support staff employees of the Public Defender for their unlawful layoff. AFSCME realleges and incorporates by reference Paragraphs 1 to 9 above as Paragraphs 1-9 of this Count. It seeks reinstatement and damages for the support staff employees who are still laid off from the Public Defender and damages in the form of back pay for the support staff and the Assistant Public Defenders who have now been recalled to work.
10. The decision of Defendant Stroger to withhold the money appropriated by the County Board for the Office of the Public Defender caused the layoffs of 13 Assistant Public Defenders and 13 support staff employees. The actions of Defendant Stroger contravened the appropriations measure passed by the Cook County Board of Commissioners and state law.
11. All of the Assistant Public Defenders represented by AFSCME and all but 2 of the support staff represented by AFSCME who have been laid off have now been recalled to work. Wherefore, AFSCME seeks the following relief on behalf of its members and requests the Court to take the following action:
a) declare that the layoffs ordered by Defendant Stroger violated the appropriations measure and state law;
b) order the reinstatement of the employees who are still laid off;
c) order the payment of back pay to employees for the period they were illegally laid off; and
d) order any other relief the Court deems equitable and just.
This Count is brought by AFSCME obtain an order to require Defendant Stroger to promptly take action to allow the Public Defender to fill vacancies in his Office. AFSCME realleges and incorporates by reference Paragraphs 1 to 9 above as Paragraphs 1-9 of this Count.
10. Defendant Stroger has a legal duty to honor the appropriation for the Public Defender by the Cook County Board of Commissioners under state law.
11. Since the beginning of the 2007 budget year, Defendant Stroger has prevented the Public Defender from filling vacancies in his office for positions for which funds were appropriated by the Cook County Board of Commissioners in the 2007 budget ordinance. The actions of Defendant Stroger have therefore violated his legal duty under state law to honor the appropriations of the Board for the Public Defender.
12. These actions of Defendant Stroger will continue unless halted by this Court.
13. These actions by Defendant Stroger have caused the caseloads of the Assistant Public Defenders represented by AFSCME to increase substantially.
14. This increase in caseloads has undermined the ability of the Assistant Public Defenders represented by AFSCME to carry out their constitutional, statutory and ethical obligation to effectively represent their clients. It has also made their jobs more difficult and time consuming without any concomitant increase in compensation.
15. Sufficient funds exist in the Treasury of the County of Cook to honor the appropriations ordinance enacted by the Cook County Board of Commissioners for the Public Defender.
Wherefore, Plaintiff requests that this court order the following relief:
a) declare that Defendant Stroger has violated his obligation to honor the appropriations of the Cook County Board of Commissioners and that he has a duty to allow the Public Defender to promptly fill vacancies that occur in his Office;
b) order Defendant Stroger to allow the Public Defender to promptly fill vacancies in budgeted positions and to cease actions that interfere with the efforts of the Public Defender to fill such positions; and
c) any other relief the Court deems equitable and just.