Chief Public Defender John Rekowski said during a Judiciary Committee meeting that his office is struggling to fill a vacant position after former employee Kelcie Miller was charged for working as an attorney without a law license.
During the July 12 meeting, Rekowski told Judiciary Committee members that his office is still in the process of hiring but facing competition from other employment opportunities for attorneys and the salaries they offer.
“Quite honestly, you know, Gori Julian and Flint Law Firm, they’re killing me,” he said. “Because I mean, you know I’m in the 50s and they’re in the 80s.”
“But you know, we just keep looking and keep interviewing,” he added. “I’ve interviewed four lawyers, none of which I’m going to make an offer to. I have interviewed two who are taking the bar in July. If they pass, I might make an offer to.”
Miller had been hired in October and fired in May after it was discovered that she had lied about passing the bar exam and did not have a law license.
Rekowski’s office learned that she had lied about her credentials when a court reporter searched for Miller’s license on the state’s Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission website in an attempt to find the correct spelling of her name.
Rekowski previously said that when he confronted Miller about not being licensed, she continued to maintain that she was an attorney. However Miller failed the bar exam both times she took it. She most recently took the bar exam in Chicago in February but had allegedly told her employer that she would be out of state for a relative’s funeral during that time.
Miller has since been charged with false impersonation of an attorney, theft of more than $10,000 but less than $100,000 from a government entity and forgery. Rekowski explained that the theft charge is for accepting a $57,000 annual salary as an attorney when she didn’t actually have a license, and the forgery charge is for a fake bar card that she showed him on her phone.
Miller was taken into custody at the Madison County jail, and Circuit Judge Richard Tognarelli set her bail at $100,000.
During Miller’s employment, Rekowski previously said she worked on 80 cases. A random sample of eight of those cases included two felony charges of domestic battery, four of aggravated battery, and one of aggravated domestic battery.
In the only case that didn’t involve physical contact between persons, the defendant allegedly broke a pillar on a police car.
During the July 12 Judiciary Committee meeting, Rekowski also told committee members that his office has completed all of the cases in which Miller represented clients that went to jail. Rekowski had previously told committee members that seven of Miller’s clients are currently in jail.
Rekowski said that of those files, attorneys from his office have met with all of the defendants and prosecutors and went to court to either contest the plea deal or accept the same.
He said only one defendant wanted to change the deal, who ended up receiving a seven year sentence as opposed to the defendant’s previous eight year sentence.
However, Rekowski said his office has not completed all of the probation cases or conditional discharge cases Miller had worked on, and some of those defendants have not responded to notification attempts. He said he has sent out additional notices to some of the defendants.
He added that none of the defendants have wanted to change their dispositions.