While the NACDL had previously supported attempts to reform Michigan’s public defense system through litigation, those efforts were unsuccessful as the Michigan Supreme Court found that the responsibility for enacting reform rests with the legislature. However, the NACDL continued to work with organizations like The Michigan Campaign for Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union to advocate for systemic change that will address the deficiencies in Michigan’s public defense system so that every person charged with a crime in Michigan is no longer at risk of receiving constitutionally inadequate legal assistance.
In October 2011, following years of work by advocacy groups, Governor Snyder issued Executive Order 2011-12, establishing the initial Indigent Defense Advisory Commission, which was responsible for recommending improvements to the state’s legal system. Recommendations from the Advisory Commission served as the basis for legislation to address this need and called for the 15-member Indigent Defense Commission that the governor signed into law in July 2013, launching the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission. The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission Act can be found at MCL 780.981 - 780.1003.
The MIDC Act is comprehensive, and has a substantial mandate requiring the Commission to:
- Collect and compile data for the review of public defense services in Michigan
- Create minimum standards
- Work with counties to design plans to meet the standards and measure the performance of counties in providing public defense services
- Award state funded grants to county systems to fund the compliance plans and bring systems into compliance with the new minimum standards
The Commissioners were appointed in the summer of 2014, and named Jonathan Sacks as the first Executive Director of the Commission. Mr. Sacks and his staff began working in early 2015.
The Commission has proposed a first set of minimum standards, which cover training and education of defense counsel, initial client interviews, use of experts and investigators, and counsel at first appearance. Data collection has begun and will inform future minimum standards and best practices for public defense delivery in Michigan. Regional Consultants will be in place in early 2016 to facilitate compliance statewide.
Learn more about the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission at www.michiganidc.gov.
Duncan v. State of Michigan Litigation
Complaint filed in Duncan v. State of Michigan, a civil rights class action brought pursuant to the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment alleging inadequate funding and oversight of indigent defense services
News & Resources
Faces of Failing Public Defense: Portraits of Michigan’s Constitutional Crisis, Michigan Campaign for Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, April 2011.
A Race to the Bottom: Speed and Savings Over Due Process, National Legal Aid & Defender Association, June 2008.
A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence: A Trial Practice Handbook for Criminal Defense Attorneys
This Guide to Federal Evidence is the only federal evidence handbook written exclusively for criminal defense lawyers. The Guide analyzes each Federal Rule of Evidence and outlines the main evidentiary issues that confront criminal defense lawyers. It also summarizes countless defense favorable cases and provides tips on how to avoid common evidentiary pitfalls. The Guide contains multiple user-friendly flowcharts aimed at helping the criminal defense lawyer tackle evidence problems. A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence is an indispensable tool in preparing a case for trial.
Modern Digital Evidence & Technologies in Criminal Cases
Modern cases need modern defenses, and modern lawyers can't practice with an outdated playbook. This program is a contemporary training that identifies emerging technologies and digital evidence encountered in today's criminal cases and arms you with the tools necessary to combat expert witnesses, prosecutorial overreach, and an uneducated judge and jury. This comprehensive CLE program covers both general aspects of new technologies as well as practical courtroom application and legal challenges to the use of these new technologies.
Top Shelf DUI Defenses: The Law, The Science, The Techniques (2021)
If you are serious about being an effective DUI defense advocate, or if you’re considering adding DUI defenses to your portfolio, you need to know the latest scientific and legal strategies to optimize your success at trial. Learn from the best-of-the-best in the field in this unique CLE Program, updated for 2021.
Defending Modern Drug Cases (2021)
From challenging the arrest and seizure to picking a jury and cross-examining police officers, defense attorneys handling drug cases must be able to construct a defense that will increase the chances of the client getting a positive result for your client.
Effective motion practice, juror selection, and storytelling have never been more important. This seminar will introduce defense counsel to techniques that have been used at recent drug trials to rebut specific claims and overcome the emotion created in today’s criminal legal system.