ILNews

New chief defender chosen

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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Indianapolis defense attorney Robert J. Hill Jr. is poised to be the next top public defender in the state's largest county.

The Marion County Public Defender Agency's governing board voted March 12 for him to lead the agency after David E. Cook resigns for private practice in mid-April. Cook notified the nine-member board of his decision in December to leave the office after 13 years at the helm, setting in motion a search for his successor.

To help facilitate the transition, Cook agreed today to stay on until April 20.

A public meeting earlier this afternoon entailed an interview of finalists Hill and Indianapolis attorney Eric K. Koselke, who were chosen from 10 original applicants for the job. A third finalist, Mark Kamish of Franklin, withdrew prior to the meeting.

Seven board members voted unanimously for Hill's appointment, with board member Rick Kammen abstaining because he and Hill work at the same firm, Gilroy Kammen & Hill. He noted that he didn't see any conflict, but agreed not to vote. Board member Jon Bailey didn't attend the meeting.

Both finalists had extensive ties to the agency and experience in handling a range of criminal cases, including multiple death penalty cases. Each candidate spoke briefly about their backgrounds, why they wanted the position, and what they saw for the future of the office.

"I've always had an interest and passion for public defense, and believe I can really make a difference for the office," Hill said. "As lawyers, if we don't take care of those without money the same as those with it, the system will break down. It's a calling for all of us."

Admitted to practice in January 1982, Hill has worked as deputy chief public defender from 1994 to 2000, and as a part-time public defender since 1983 on juvenile and major felony cases. Hill is a board member for the Indiana Public Defender Council and has served as a past chairman; he also stepped down from the county defender agency's board recently to apply for this slot. Currently, he works as a contract public defender for Indiana Federal Community Defenders, aside from his private practice.

His goals for the office include being able to transition to a full-time staff, be able to adequately fund the agency, and increase mentoring opportunities within the office, he told the board.

Now, the City-County Council must sign off on Hill's appointment before it takes effect. The board's legal counsel today planned to get the nomination to the council on Thursday so that it could be brought up at the next meeting March 24, but he didn't know if the council could immediately vote or if the issue would have to be referred to a public safety committee before a final vote.

If the council doesn't vote by Cook's departure April 20, Hill will temporarily lead the agency as interim director until the confirmation process is complete, the board voted today.
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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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