SPRINGFIELD — A bill introduced in the Illinois House would reshuffle the second-largest prosecutorial office in the United States.
Introduced by state Rep. Deanne M. Mazzochi, an Elmhurst Republican, House Bill 4446 would create five elected deputy state’s attorney positions in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. Each deputy would be tasked with the same authority as the state’s attorney.
“It does not make sense to me that a single person has control over prosecutorial discretion and judicial policies throughout such a large, diverse county,” Mazzochi said in an emailed statement.
“It is not unreasonable to add more local accountability to ensure that individuals are being properly represented,” she said.
The bill would retain the elected state’s attorney position and require it to “arbitrate any disputes between [d]eputy [s]tate’s [a]ttorneys concerning powers, jurisdiction, operations and negotiate and approve any shared operations between two or more offices of [d]eputy [s]tate’s [a]ttorneys.”
A spokeswoman for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said her office opposes the bill.
Serving a four-year term, each deputy state’s attorney’s would represent three Cook County judicial subcircuit districts, respectively.
The county currently has 15 judicial subcircuit districts, which would be divided between the five deputy state’s attorneys.
The bill breaks down that jurisdiction as: Districts 1, 2 and 15; Districts 3, 5 and 14; Districts 6, 7 and 8; Districts 4, 10 and 11; and Districts 9, 12 and 13.
Mazzochi, a partner at Rakoczy Molino Mazzochi Siwik LLP, said the bill is an attempt to bring “local prosecutorial power” to Cook County, which spreads more than 1,635 square miles and has a population of 5.18 million people as of 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“The existence of separate judicial districts in the first place are a recognition of the fact that there is a benefit to having more localized decision-making,” Mazzochi said. “I think residents across Cook County should have more of a say in the adjudication that is being done in their name.”
The bill, which has not been assigned to a committee, would take effect before the 2024 election.