Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is facing questions as her office continues to see a high rate of turnover, with hundreds of staffers leaving in just over a year.
According to city data, more than 235 have left in the past 15 months alone, and the State’s Attorney Office has had to ask for volunteers so that courtrooms will be staffed.
Amid the high turnover, Foxx, who is not up for re-election for two years, is facing serious questions about whether she can help to reverse the exodus.
Prosecutors who work at the Bridgeview Courthouse say they face a difficult time managing day to day. Bridgeview should have two Assistant State’s Attorney’s for each of the 10 courtrooms, but recently at times there have been only three Assistant State’s Attorneys to cover six or even seven of the courtrooms.
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“We’ve asked for assistance in coverage in Bridgeview and others offices, but that’s not unprecedented,” Foxx said.
While Foxx tried to downplay the situation, Dan Kirk, the former first assistant to State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, did not mince words.
“It’s just a powder keg waiting to explode and that’s the situation you have right now in this office,” he said. “Who’s going to handle those complex cases? There are thousands of very complex cases, with very complex issues that come through the office.”
Staffing isn’t just an issue in Bridgeview. The State’s Attorney is facing shortages in Felony Review, Special Prosecutions, Civil, Sex Crimes, Juvenile, Domestic Violence and Traffic courts as well.
Another experienced former assistant Cook County State’s Attorney – who quit last year – and has asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, shared their story with NBC 5.
“Everyone is at their breaking point,” the employee said. “If you don’t do what’s on her agenda, you find yourself in an awful experience. (Foxx) needs to resign.”
In an interview with NBC 5, Foxx says that all staffers who leave the office are asked for feedback.
“We asked for feedback, ‘tell us what you hear, what you feel’ and people told us there are some who are not aligned with the mission and vision of the office,” she said.
Kirk has a more blunt assessment.
“I hear the feedback from hundreds of people in the office. They’re disgusted, and they can’t take it anymore,” he said. “They’re leaving in droves because they just don’t want to work for this State’s Attorney anymore.”
Another complaint from former staffers is Foxx and her executive staff do not come to the office on a regular basis, but rather work mostly from home.
Foxx says she’s looking forward to returning to routines once the COVID pandemic winds down, but was noncommittal about when that would occur.