People held in custody by the Chicago Police may have access to a free lawyer well before they appear in front of a judge under an administrative order announced Tuesday by Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans.
Currently, most of those who are arrested do not have an attorney until they come to court for a bond hearing.
But under the order, defendants may be able to procure a lawyer while they are at the police station.
Signs with numbers for the Cook County Public Defender’s Office and the First Defense Legal Aid will be posted in the 22 police stations with lockup facilities, according to a news release issued by Evans’ office.
Assistant public defenders will be available to talk to the arrestees from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, and volunteer attorneys with the First Defense Legal Aid will be available on weekends, holidays and all other hours.
Those arrested will still have to ask for an attorney, and not everyone is guaranteed an attorney because the program will be based on available staffing, the release said.
Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli, said in the news release that Evans’ order was a “huge step forward.”
State’s Attorney Kim Foxx also applauded Evans’ order, saying it ensures “that no one is denied their constitutional right to counsel.”