Lansing Update: February 20, 2009

In this issue of Lansing Update:

  1. Campaign to Improve Indigent Public Defense Launches

Campaign to Improve Indigent Public Defense Launches

A broad-based coalition of organizations and individuals that includes the Michigan Catholic Conference launched [Link no longer available —Ed.] a campaign this week to highlight the poor state of indigent legal defense that exists in Michigan.

The Michigan Campaign for Justice, which includes legal and judicial associations from across the state, will advocate for legislation that seeks to reform the process by which public defense is funded in Michigan and measures that enforce minimum national standards.

Michigan is one of only a handful of states with no state funding and no statewide standards for monitoring of trial level public defense services. Last year the Michigan Legislature commissioned the National Legal Aid and Defender Association to evaluate the state’s public defense system, which services adult and children facing criminal or delinquency proceedings who cannot afford their own attorney. Based on 11 Principles [Link no longer available —Ed.] of a Public Defense Delivery System, established by the State Bar of Michigan, Michigan has recently received a grade of “F” in five areas, a “D” in five other areas, and a “C” in the last area.

The Campaign for Justice and its coalition members [Link no longer available —Ed.] will begin to meet with lawmakers of both parties to discuss options for reforming the state’s public defense system.