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Indecent Exposure

When people think about the jobs of public defenders, they may think about the immense workloads that some PDs take on. They may think about the risks of defending a dangerous individual - and losing.

One workplace hazard that most of us probably don't realize is that some inmates in Cook County Jail have been exposing themselves to, and sometimes masturbating in front of, female public defenders and correctional officers. The problem has led to six female public defenders filing an equal protection lawsuit late last year in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Female correctional officers filed a similar lawsuit.

The suit is brought by six named plaintiffs who represent a class of female assistant public defenders (APDs) and female law clerks in the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender. It alleges that the defendants caused and conspired to cause female APDs and law clerks to "suffer a continuing severe and/or pervasive hostile work environment on the basis of sex" in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution and the Illinois Gender Violence Act. See the complaint on the ABA Journal website at It further alleges that due to the conduct of the defendants, the plaintiffs "are forced to regularly endure heinous sexual misconduct, robbing many of their love of the job, maybe permanently." Id.

Find out more in the January Illinois Bar Journal.

Posted on January 10, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson
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