Governor signs legislation improving state's indigent criminal defense system

On Jan. 4, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation to ensure the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission meets state constitutional obligations and maintains independences from the judiciary while continuing work to maintain a fair indigent criminal defense system.

The Commission will now be housed within the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. In 2013, Snyder signed legislation that set statewide standards and accountability measures for public defense attorneys representing indigent criminal defendants.

“Ensuring that every Michigander has access to affordable and competent legal counsel is critical to our public defense system and our democracy,” Snyder said. “These bills help us continue to make sure those who have been accused of crimes receive the fair and capable legal representation they are guaranteed under the Constitution.”

House Bills 5842-5846 and Senate Bill 1109, sponsored by state Reps. Kurt Heise, Martin Howrylak, Klint Kesto, Vanessa Guerra, David LaGrand and state Sen. Rick Jones, respectively, moves the Michigan Indigent Defense
Commission from the judicial branch to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The measures are now Public Acts 439-444 of 2016.
For more information on this and other legislation, visit