Cook Co. gets new public defender

April 1, 2009 (CHICAGO) Judge Abishi Cunningham Jr. was sworn in Wednesday morning at the Cook County Building. He is replacing Edwin Burnette for a six-year term to head up the office of 700 attorneys.

Cunningham's mission will be to protect the rights, liberties, and dignities of each person whose case has been entrusted to the office.

The public defender is not elected but rather appointed by the county's board president. Cunningham thanked Todd Stroger for the job.

I have seen our criminal justice system from every public office that defines that system, and I have been offered the privilege of concluding a career in public service as the Cook County public defender," said Cunningham.

The office of the public defender has a $50 million budget to fund hundreds of attorneys and staff on more than $350,000 criminal cases each year.

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