Indigent defense panel seeking public comment

The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC), housed in the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), has submitted proposed minimum standards for the delivery of indigent defense services and is seeking public comment.

The minimum standards involve independence from the judiciary, caseload controls, qualification and review of attorneys taking appointed cases and attorney compensation.

Following a 30-day public comment period, LARA Director Shelly Edgerton will review the information provided and a decision will be made on whether to approve the standards.

Last January, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation to ensure the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission meets state constitutional obligations and maintains independence from the judiciary while continuing its work to maintain a fair indigent criminal defense system in Michigan.

The legislation moved the commission from the judicial branch to LARA.

This set of minimum standards was approved by the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission in August and referred to LARA:

• Independence from the Judiciary
• Caseload Maximums
• Qualification and Review
• Attorney Compensation

Details of each standard can be found at michiganidc.gov/standards/.

Pursuant to MCL 780.985 as amended, opposition to a proposed minimum standard should be submitted before Dec. 14 by email to comments@michiganidc.gov.

All comments will be posted on the MIDC website at: www.michiganidc.gov.

Every indigent defense delivery system in Michigan is required to submit a plan for compliance with the standards together with a cost analysis to the MIDC. 

If the standards are approved, these submissions must be made to the MIDC within 180 days from the date of approval.

The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission was established to create and enforce uniform public defense standards throughout the state.

Its members are appointed by the governor with recommendation of the Legislature, Supreme Court, the State Bar, and representing interests from the criminal justice system and the general public.

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