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The Public Servant
The newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Government Lawyers

March 2004, vol. 5, no. 4

News you can use

Federal student loan forgiveness legislation

Many government lawyers face a common challenge: struggling to pay off large law school loans while earning low wages. To try to alleviate this problem, Congress is considering a bill that would create a loan forgiveness program for local and state prosecutors and local, state, and Federal public defenders. Under the bill, titled "The Prosecutors and Defenders Incentive Act," the federal government would provide loan repayment benefits of up to $6,000 per year to prosecutors and public defenders who have committed to their jobs for at least three years and who carry educational debt. The bill would cap the total amount of payments at $40,000 per person.

The legislation has been introduced in both the House (H.R. 2198) and the Senate (S. 1091). At press time, various Congressional committees were reviewing the bill but had not yet voted on it. You can track the progress of this legislation online at <>. Additionally, this Web site can provide you with access to the text of the legislation.

Secretaries as "confidential employees"

Hobler v. Brueher (9th Circuit, April 8, 2003), 325 F. 3d 1145. Secretaries employed at will in county prosecutor's office filed a §1983 action in state court, claiming their firing by newly elected prosecutor violated their First Amendment rights. Action was removed to federal court. After new prosecutor was substituted for county as defendant, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington granted summary judgment for new prosecutor. Fired employees appealed. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held, among other things, that based on their actual duties and their relationship to the elected official, secretaries were "confidential employees" excepted from First Amendment protection against patronage dismissals.