Amy P. Campanelli was sworn in as the tenth Public Defender of Cook County on April 1, 2015. Amy’s appointment was the culmination of 27 years of representing the indigent accused. Amy started as an Assistant Public Defender in November 1987, assigned to the Juvenile Division. Three years later she moved to the Felony Trial Division. In 1998, Amy temporarily left the Office, but continued to take criminal cases in private practice. Five years later, in 2003, she returned to the Office as an Attorney Supervisor assigned to the Felony Trial Division.
Amy became the Chief Assistant Public Defender of Cook County’s Bridgeview Courthouse in 2008. She became the Capital Case Coordinator for the Office in 2010. While coordinating all death penalty litigation resources in the Office, she organized jury focus groups, and spearheaded a two-day capital litigation conference with experts from around the globe. After the death penalty was abolished in Illinois, she served as Deputy Chief of the Homicide Task Force and Deputy Chief of the Felony Trial Division. In 2012, Amy became the Deputy Public Defender in charge of all five Suburban districts in Cook County, a position she held until her appointment as the Public Defender. She currently manages a budget of $80 million and a staff of approximately 700.
Multiple initiatives have been launched during her administration, including: the Police Station Representation Unit, making attorneys available 24/7 to respond to calls for counsel by anyone in custody throughout Cook County; the Mental Health Unit, staffed with an in-house
psychologist and social workers trained to identify clients with mental health issues; and grant outreach, bringing much needed resources to her office to support clients both in and out of the courtroom. She is currently working to open an Immigration Unit within the Public Defender’s Office to provide legal representation and social help for clients who face deportation. In June 2020, the Public Defender’s Police Station Unit was recognized nationally by NACO (National Association of Counties) in the area of Criminal Justice and Public Safety.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Amy has worked tirelessly to obtain the release of over 2000 clients from the Cook County Jail, while working with other stakeholders to provide necessary services to those released.
Recently, Chicago Magazine declared Amy as one of the 50 most powerful women in Chicago and in September 2020, Amy received the Illinois Institute of Technology Alumni Association’s 2020 Professional Achievement Award. This award honors alumni whose achievements in their fields have brought distinction to themselves as well as credit to Illinois Institute of Technology.
Amy received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana and her Juris Doctor from Chicago-Kent College of Law. Amy is a lifelong member of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority. She is married to Patrick Campanelli, and they have three children: Paul, Annabelle, and Emily. Amy is the second female to serve as Public Defender of Cook County.