Public defender: Macomb County creates office and introduces administrator


Thomas Tomko (center), a criminal defense attorney in Clinton Township, was recently introduced as the administrator of Macomb County’s new Office of Public Defender. Joining Tomko at a news conference in Mt. Clemens to announce creation of the office and the appointment were (left to right) Macomb County Deputy Executive Vicki Wolber, County Executive Mark Hackel, Macomb County Circuit Court Chief Judge James Biernat Jr., and Circuit Court Judge James M. Maceroni.

– Photo courtesy of Macomb County

Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel announced on March 5 the creation of the Macomb County Office of Public Defender and introduced Thomas J. Tomko as public defender administrator.

“Tom will be the architect of the Macomb County Public Defender’s Office,” Hackel said. “He understands the direction we want to head in Macomb County in the areas of criminal justice reform, and he will make this office a place that treats everyone fairly.”

Tomko will lead the formation of the Macomb County Office of Public Defender and its service to indigent clients.

“I look forward to the challenge of helping create a Public Defender’s Office in Macomb County that meets and exceeds Michigan Indigent Defense Commission standards and helps make Macomb County a leader in providing quality representation for indigent defendants who face misdemeanor and felony charges,” Tomko said.

He was recommended from a pool of applicants by a panel that included Macomb County Circuit Court Chief Judge James M. Biernat Jr.; Julie Bovenschen, circuit court administrator; 42nd District Court Judge William Hackel III; Andrew McKinnon, director of Macomb County Human Resources and Labor Relations; Circuit Court Judge James M. Maceroni; and Vicki Wolber, deputy county executive.

A 1987 graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, Tomko has been a practicing Michigan attorney for the past 32 years, licensed and a member of both the Michigan State Bar and the U.S. District Court.

 He is a long-time member of the Macomb County Bar Association, and the Criminal Defense Association of Michigan. 

Since 1994, Tomko has been in private practice as a sole practitioner, maintaining an office in Macomb County, and representing criminal defendants in both retained and court appointed criminal cases. 

His experience includes representing indigent criminal defendants in various courts throughout the county.

Over the past three years, county officials said, Tomko was involved in committees and work-groups seeking ways to meet minimum representation standards set out by the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission, which seeks to ensure constitutional protections for indigent criminal defendants in Michigan.

Since its inception, the Macomb County charter has included a provision for an Office of Public Defender. 

Over the past few years, the county, based on recommended standards and guidance from the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission, has worked towards the goal of creating this office.