Another lawyer leaving public defender's office

URBANA — Another of Champaign County's senior assistant public defenders is leaving the office.

Scott Schmidt, 40, of Broadlands, has been selected as the public defender for Effingham County.

Schmidt has been with the Champaign County public defender's office since December 1999. Since 2006, he has served as the first assistant to Public Defender Randy Rosenbaum.

Schmidt received his law degree from Chicago Kent in 1998 and his undergraduate degree from Northern Michigan University in 1994.

His last day on the job in Urbana is Friday and he starts his new duties in Effingham on Monday. He replaces a woman who was not reappointed to the job after holding it 16 years.

Also on Monday, Assistant Public Defender Anthony Ortega starts his new job as public defender in Coles County.

Both men will earn about $149,000 a year in their posts.

Schmidt said he'll have one full-time assistant and will have to handle the gamut of cases, including traffic, abuse and neglect, juvenile delinquencies, misdemeanors and felonies.

"I'm going to have to relearn all that stuff," he laughed.

Schmidt has represented indigent clients in only felony cases since 2002.

The departure of Ortega and Schmidt leaves Rosenbaum with a staff of 12.

"I'm hoping to fill those spots before too long," said Rosenbaum, who said he was already interviewing people for Ortega's spot when he learned of Schmidt's departure.

Rosenbaum has named Janie Miller-Jones as his new first assistant. She's been with the office since August 1999.

"I certainly have a number of attorneys in the office who are well-qualified. I didn't feel the need to advertise for the position," he said.

Rosenbaum called his office the "leader of the Interstate 57 corridor."

Ford County State's Attorney Matt Fitton in Paxton and Douglas County State's Attorney Kevin Nolan in Tuscola worked in Champaign County as assistant public defenders before landing those jobs.

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