Court lacks diversity, lawyer says

Resigns after passed over for public defender post

In a scathing resignation letter, an assistant Sangamon County public defender has blasted the local judiciary as being a politically influenced body that seeks to manage the public defender's office.

In a May 1 letter to Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge John "Mo" Madonia notifying him of her decision to resign effective May 15, Lindsay Evans also complained about the lack of diversity on the bench and wrote that the needs of the poor caught in the legal system are subservient to political considerations.

"Those of us familiar know that the 'local chapter' of the world's finest justice system caters not to the Constitution but to cronyism, family names, white male mediocrity and party donors," Lindsay Evans wrote in her letter to Madonia, who is the court's presiding judge. "Poor people and their constitutional rights are reduced to political capital used to curry favor with constituents and serve political ambitions."

Nine of 14 judges who work in the Sangamon County courthouse are men, although five of the last seven judges appointed have been women. All judges are white except for Associate Judge Rudolph Braud, who is of African-American heritage. In the Seventh Judicial Circuit that includes Sangamon County, 21 judges are men and 10 are women.

Evans, who is a Democratic Party committee person, has unsuccessfully applied for judgeships. She applied to become director of the public defender's office after Madonia fired Robert Scherschligt earlier this year but judges, who hire and fire the head of the public defender's office, picked Craig Reiser, a Springfield attorney.

Evans, who spent more than a dozen years as an assistant public defender, could not be reached for comment. Madonia declined comment.

Contact Bruce Rushton at

brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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