(1) There is hereby created the office of public defender in counties that have or that attain a population in excess of one hundred thousand inhabitants and in other counties upon approval by the county board. The public defender shall be elected as provided in the Election Act.
(2) The public defender shall be a lawyer licensed to practice law in this state. He or she shall take office after election and qualification at the same time that other county officers take office, except that upon the creation of such office in any county, a qualified person may be appointed by the county board to serve as public defender until such office can be filled by an election in accordance with section 32-523.
(3) In counties having a population of more than one hundred seventy thousand inhabitants, the public defender shall devote his or her full time to the legal work of the office of the public defender and shall not engage in the private practice of law. All assistant public defenders in such counties shall devote their full time to the legal work of such office of the public defender and shall not engage in the private practice of law so long as each assistant public defender receives the same annual salary as each deputy county attorney of comparable ability and experience receives in such counties.
(4) No public defender or assistant public defender shall solicit or accept any fee for representing a criminal defendant in a prosecution in which the public defender or assistant is already acting as the defendant's court-appointed counsel.
(5) A public defender elected after November 1986 need not be a resident of the county when he or she files for election as public defender, but a public defender shall reside in a county for which he or she holds office, except that in counties with a population of one hundred thousand or less inhabitants, the public defender shall not be required to reside in the county in which he or she holds office.