May 1, 2003 - Chicago Sun-Times: Somalia RPCV Patrick Murphy retires as Cook County public guardian

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By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, May 01, 2003 - 9:43 am: Edit Post

Somalia RPCV Patrick Murphy retires as Cook County public guardian

Somalia RPCV Patrick Murphy retires as Cook County public guardian

Public guardian retiring, glad he ruffled feathers

May 1, 2003

BY ABDON M. PALLASCH Legal Affairs Reporter

Then-Gov. James Thompson asked his drinking buddy, Patrick Murphy, 25 years ago if he could take over an obscure, part-time office neither man had ever heard of called the "public guardian."

Thompson assured Murphy it would last only three months.

Murphy's Cook County office has since grown to 150 attorneys representing not just 500 disabled, mostly older wards of the state but 16,000 abused and neglected children. Murphy has decided it's time to retire this fall.

Murphy's take-no-prisoners approach--slamming bureaucrats, elected officials, social workers or judges he perceives as opposing the interests of the children or elderly he represents--has made him many enemies.

"Some may have claimed that I haven't made too many friends as public guardian. But then again, I didn't have many to begin with," Murphy wrote in his resignation letter to Chief Judge Tim Evans.

Judges who cross Murphy's attorneys find details of hard-to-defend rulings appearing in the press. Court documents implicating state officials who failed to do their jobs also get to reporters. That infuriates judges and bureaucrats, but Murphy says it's the kids--not the judges and bureaucrats--he represents.

Murphy, 64, wonders if the fact his parents spent time in orphanages fuels his zeal to represent wards. After he studied in a seminary, Murphy was a prosecutor, a Peace Corps worker in Somalia and a legal aid lawyer before he became public guardian. He has written fiction and nonfiction.

He has not started looking for a new job. His fans, like former Chief Judge Don O'Connell, say they hope he'll continue working for children.

As for the new Cook County public guardian, Murphy said, "I think there are several good people inside my office. . . . It should not be a politician. It needs to be someone who can speak out. I always considered it very important to go to the press to get a public hearing of what I consider to be important problems."

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Story Source: Chicago Sun-Times

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Public Guardian; Law; Social Work; COS - Somalia



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