Just a few weeks ago, the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) released the first set of proposed minimum standards for the local delivery of indigent criminal defense services. These standards involve education and training, the initial client interview, experts and investigators, and counsel at first appearance in front of a judge or magistrate. We selected these initial standards because they are either required by the statute or supported by United States Supreme Court precedent. MCL 780.989(1). We also wanted to start with a set of standards that would be amenable to the creation of lasting and measurable improvements in the criminal defense of people who cannot afford counsel. Among other topics, future standards will tackle caseloads, qualifications, compensation, and independence of the indigent defense function from the judiciary.
These standards were distributed widely for comment to multiple criminal defense attorneys and associations, as well as to judges, prosecutors, legislators and other system stakeholders. MIDC staff has spoken with many groups about the first set of proposed standards either as part of our work, in connection with a training event, or in a meeting designed specifically to answer questions about the future of indigent defense in counties across Michigan. All comments about the standards that have been formally submitted will be posted to the MIDC’s website, and any comments received prior to the public hearing will be considered by the Commission. We encourage everyone who is interested to e-mail comments on the standards to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to 200 N. Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48933 no later than August 7, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. to ensure distribution to the full Commission.