Madison - St. Clair Record

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Madison County assistant public defender fired for not being a lawyer


By Brian Brueggemann and Ann Maher | May 29, 2019

A 26-year old has been fired from her position as assistant Madison County public defender after it was discovered she is not a licensed attorney.

Kelcie Marie Miller of Edwardsville had been on the job since last October earning $57,000 annually, having helped handle approximately 80 cases until her firing about a week ago, according to Madison County chief public defender John Rekowski.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Rekowski said his office learned about the situation from a judge who told him that a court reporter in search of the correct spelling of Miller's first name found no record of her on the Attorney Registration and Discipline Commission site.

Madison County chief public defender John Rekowski answers questions about unlicensed attorney having worked in his office for seven months,

The long-time public defender said he never asked to see Miller's law license, but as one who makes hiring decisions, he's "never been lied to about it."

"It is such an honor to be in this profession...this is so far off our radar screen," he said.

Rekowski said the State's Attorney's office and Sheriff's Department are investigating, and that Miller could face criminal charges and possibly civil litigation.  

He said that when he first confronted Miller, she maintained that she was a licensed attorney, but gave no explanation when she was fired. He said that she had twice taken the bar exam and failed both.

During her seven month tenure, Miller handled mostly felony cases, ones that were all lower than class 2. She did not handle violent crimes - which is standard procedure for any young or new attorneys, Rekowski said. 

He said that he typically reviews the work of all staff, discussing with prosecutors and his own staff as to a defender's competence.  

There was "never anything that stood out to make me question her abilities," he said. 

Rekowski said Miller had assisted in the Zachary Capers case - where an older couple were stabbed to death in their Edwardsville home in March - but not significantly as he said he did "all the work."

He said he was in the process of notifying all of the people whose cases Miller handled to let them know what their options are, though he did not specify what the range of options might be. 

As late as Wednesday afternoon Miller identified herself as an assistant public defender on her Facebook page. In a December 2017 Instagram post, she is pictured in cap and gown, in what appears to be a law school graduation photo.

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