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Council confirms new chief defender

January 1, 2008
It's official: Marion County has a new chief public defender.

The City-County Council voted Monday to approve Robert Hill Jr. as the county's top public defender, succeeding David E. Cook who left the office after 13 years to return to private practice.

Hill, who has long ties to the agency and extensive experience in public defense, won the council's support by a 27-1 vote. Councilman Monroe Gray was the sole dissenter, and Jose Evans did not attend the meeting. The public defender's office expected the council to vote at a meeting later this month, but learned last week that the vote would happen April 14.

Cook's last day was supposed to be today, but his final day ended up being April 11; he was on vacation this week. Hill took over Tuesday.

The Marion County Public Defender Agency's board of directors selected Hill March 12, voting for him over Indianapolis attorney Eric K. Koselke, who was the other finalist chosen from 10 original applicants. Hill now oversees a $20-million-budget office, handles a burgeoning caseload currently at about 37,000 a year, and has 160 full-time employees and about 100 contract lawyers.

In an interview in March, Hill told Indiana Lawyer he plans to continue his predecessor's work of fighting for adequate funding of indigent defense and public defenders, as well as promoting more mentorship opportunities and disallowing outside private practice.
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