Michigan Indigent Defense Law Signed by Snyder

The failure to provide constitutionally guaranteed right to effective counsel to those who cannot afford their own attorney, is a major contributor resulting in wrongful convictions in this country. Michigan has been near the bottom. However, July 1st Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law what is commonly known as the Indigent  Defense Law. It is viewed by many as a sweeping upgrade of Michigan's approach to provide constitutionally guaranteed right to counsel and to insure that it is effective counsel.

Analysis to come, but in the mean time, if you want to download the bill and read it for yourself, see below!  

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Michigan's Law to Videotape* Interrogations

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At the end of this last year, the Michigan legislature passed and the governor signed into law a more up-to-date code governing standard procedure for videotaping interrogations of suspects in custody. As a part of PI's mission, we promote systemic change which decreases the possibility of wrongful convictions. That's what Senate Bill No. 152 was all about. When we speak of videotaping interrogations, what we mean isn’t to be "confused with the canned confessions currently offered at suppression hearings where the defendant, after 19 sleepless hours in the precinct, has already “agreed” to make a statement to the DA. The taped interrogations are supposed to include everything, including all that “small talk” that detectives claim to engage in before your client so mysteriously decides to incriminate himself." (Appellate Squawk) The purpose of this article is to explain what the law accomplishes and to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. 

To read the entire article, click here . . .Michigan's Law to Videotape* Interrogations

Michigan Resources for Advocacy

This page is designed to help you quickly find and contact your Michigan representative and senator to express your views.

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Judiciary Committees

Indigent Defense bill passes MI House with a vote of 71 - 36!

Attachments:
Download this file (2012-HEBH-5804.pdf)Indigent Defense Bill

The poor quality of the state of public defense in Michigan has been a major contributor to wrongful convictions. Michigan's hodge-podge of every county developing their own system has created great inequities in the state. In Michigan, where you are charged makes a huge difference in the quality of your representation, your experience from the beginning on through the verdict and sentencing. To read an excellent study on this problem, read either the NLADA report Race To The Bottom: Speed and Savings Over Due Process or it's Executive Summary.

Here lies the danger: This bill directly affects a significant amount of people, but a relatively small portion of the voters. Everyone is in favor of fairness, but not everyone is motivated.

After many years of The Michigan Campaign for Justice emphasizing the State's responsibility for guaranteeing a constitutionally adequate defense, a commission was put into place at the beginning of this year to study the current state of affairs and make recommendations that could be put into place. With lightening speed, in terms of legislation, the commission finished it's work ahead of schedule, issued it's report with the strong endorsement of the Governor and the appropriate legislation was introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives. As reported earlier, it was approved by the House Judiciary Committee and on November 8th was passed by the full House 71 to 36. You may download the version passed by the house below.

It is now before the Senate. It is a sad reality that something worked on so hard by so many people, can be stopped dead in its tracks by a single lawmaker. That is exactly what happened with the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation bill 4 years ago when the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee refused to release it to the Senate in spite of large scale support. Citizens need to take the time to convey to their senators how important this legislation is for Michiganders to have any pride in our judicial system. Please take the time to speak up. Here lies the danger: This bill directly affects a significant amount of people, but a relatively small portion of the voters. Everyone is in favor of fairness, but not everyone is motivated. That's why people who understand this issue must be vocal and communicate to lawmakers how important this really is.

For your convenience, click here to easily find who your senator is and her/his address. Then, by letter or email, write a short note emphasizing how important you think this legislation is because it is the right thing to do.

Judiciary Committees

 

 

2012 Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee

Committee Members’ Names are hyperlinked to their website with contact information.

Rick Jones (R) Committee Chair, 24th District
Tony Schuitmaker (R) Majority Vice Chair, 20 District
Tory Rocca (R) 10 District
Steven M Bieda (D) Minority Committee Chair, 9th District

2013-2014 Michigan House Judiciary Committee

Committee Members’ Names are hyperlinked to their website with contact information.

Judiciary Members, 2013
Democratic members (4) Republican members (7)
• Phil Cavanagh, Vice-chair • Kevin Cotter, Chair
• Ellen Lipton • Klint Kesto, Vice-chair
• Jeff Irwin • Kurt Heise
• Paul Clemente • Bradford Jacobsen
  • Joel Johnson
  • Andrea LaFontaine
  • Tom Leonard