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Justice

Local public defender's office juggles more work with less resources

By Dusty Rhodes/Anyone who has ever watched Dragnet, Hill Street Blues or Law & Order can recite the Miranda warning – "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you."

 It's the classic line signaling that the alleged bad guy is in custody, the crime has been solved, and the credits are about to roll. For public defenders, however, that line is where the work begins: They are the attorneys appointed to represent the poor crook in cuffs.

Dusty Rhodes/ Randall Rosenbaum, Champaign County chief public defender, puts in extra hours on the weekend.
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Public defender finds passion, connections

When Katrina Roberts calls herself “just a mom,” it’s about like Spiderman calling himself “just an arachnid.” Roberts, a former hairdresser, and her husband Guy, a truck driver, have seven children – four of whom were adopted through the foster care system, some of whom have physical, emotional or developmental problems, none of which scared Roberts.

Dusty Rhodes/ Pam Burnside, who has worked in the Champaign Public Defender's Office her entire career, hopes her office decorations help clients identify with her enough to trust her.
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County focuses on increasing number of minority jurors

URBANA—  Changes to a jury questionnaire have been made to prompt more participation from minorities in the community thanks to the efforts of a county advisory committee.
The Citizens Advisory Committee for Jury Selection , which launched earlier this year, was created by the Champaign County Board to get more minority participation in Champaign County juries.
 
Since then, the committee was able to remove some questions from the jury form that may pose obstacles to potential jurors among minority populations, said Chairman Aaron Ammons.
 
Shelley Smithson/ A committee is trying to increase the number of minorities who sit on juries at the Champaign County Courthouse in Urbana.
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