In Michigan
6:18 pm
Tue April 13, 2010

MI Supreme Court to hear indigent defense arguments

LANSING, MI –

The Michigan Supreme Court will hear a challenge Wednesday to the state's system for providing attorneys to criminal defendants who can't afford to pay their own lawyers.

As Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta reports, the arguments will take place as efforts to negotiate a solution on the Legislature have pretty much stalled.

AUDIO:
Senate Republicans say they are waiting to see what the Supreme Court rules before deciding what to do next. The chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee says the court may find Michigan is not violating the constitutional rights of indigent defendants.

But Democratic state Representative Bob Konstan disagrees.

"I think that's very short-sighted," he says.

Konstan says he still hopes the Legislature can come up with a plan that would be less-expensive and less-complicated than a court-imposed solution.

"We have to get everything done before that," he adds.

Konstan says the case would be dismissed if the Legislature comes up with the right solution.

An independent report last year said Michigan has one of the worst public defender systems in the country. But fixing that would be costly as the state faces a budget crisis.