indigent defense

Courtesy Michigan Indigent Defense Commission

The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to an attorney. But underfunded and disjointed public defense systems means that low income people accused of a crime don’t get adequate representation in court. A new set of standards from the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission hopes to change that.

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution makes it clear:  any citizen accused of a crime will -- if necessary -- have access to qualified legal representation in court.  Many legal professionals think that guarantee has been seriously compromised in Michigan for many years.  The state often ranks low in assessments of its indigent defense system.  After decades of failed efforts to reform the system, both the state Senate and House sent bipartisan bills on Wednesday to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk that would offer some concrete changes.

Michigan Capitol Building
WKAR File Photo

A set of bills was just introduced in the Legislature to begin the process of overhauling Michigan’s public defender system.

A plan to change the way Michigan counties appoint public defenders is headed to the state Senate.

southerfried / morgueFile

The state Attorney General has stalled a plan to overhaul Michigan’s public defense system.

WKAR file photo

Hearings are supposed to begin this summer on plans to ensure poor defendants get a fair shake in the legal system.

southerfried / morgueFile

A commission appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to look at how Michigan ensures everyone accused of a crime gets a decent legal defense has made its recommendations.