Michigan Indigent Defense Commission May 2015
It is estimated that the full Commission will review the work done by the Committees and discuss the proposed standards at the June 9, 2015 MIDC meeting in Lansing. Thereafter, the proposals will be distributed for comments by the criminal justice community before the public hearing, which is estimated to occur at the time of the August 18, 2015 MIDC meeting. The timeline is ambitious, but all of the Committees are working diligently. Information about attending the public hearing, which is open to the public, will be on the MIDC website, www.michiganidc.gov, which is set to launch later this spring.
The MIDC is also in the process of finalizing a survey to be distributed to all Circuit and District Courts in Michigan. The MIDC Act requires data collection from indigent defense providers. This first survey will help identify the types of delivery systems used in each county, factors used to determine eligibility for assigned counsel services, the timeframe for appointments of counsel and information about meetings with clients, training for assigned counsel, expenditures on indigent defense, and case tracking methodology. The survey will be distributed through the State Court Administrator’s Office and the responses will be analyzed this summer. A summary of the survey results will be made available to the public after it has been completed. The primary author of the survey is incoming MIDC Research Director Dr. Jonah Siegel, a sociologist with a specialty in criminal justice issues.
MIDC staff continues to connect with practitioners regularly. Jonathan Sacks spends time every week meeting with criminal defense attorneys, court administrators, and judges, widely seeking input for improving indigent defense services. Mr. Sacks also attended a train-the-trainer event for CDAM’s trial college at the end of April. As a career-public defender and former supervisor of public defenders, Mr. Sacks hopes to engage the newest group of indigent criminal defense attorneys in Michigan. Mr. Sacks was also recently appointed to the State Bar of Michigan’s “Modernizing the Regulatory Machinery” Committee of the 21st Century Task Force, dedicated to building economic resilience and capacity in the delivery of legal services.