Michigan Indigent Defense Commission Releases Next Set of Standards

Comments invited through October 6, 2017

The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission met on April 18, 2017 at the MIDC office in Lansing, Michigan.  At that meeting, the Commission announced that the first four standards for indigent criminal defense services are pending a decision by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs now that the public comment period closed on March 9, 2017.  Those first four standards cover training and education of counsel, the initial client interview, use of investigation and experts, and counsel at first appearance and other critical stages. 

The Commission has drafted and approved for publication the release of the next set of proposed minimum standards for indigent criminal defense services.  These next standards address the need for independence from the judiciary, defender workload limitations, and qualifications and review of attorneys accepting assignments in adult criminal cases.  The full text of all of standards can be found on the MIDC’s website at http://michiganidc.gov/standards/.   Comments on the newly proposed standards can be sent to comments@michiganidc.gov or mailed to the MIDC’s Lansing office.  The MIDC invites all stakeholders in the criminal justice community and the general public to provide feedback on the proposed standards.  The MIDC is also finalizing a proposed standard on economic disincentives and incentives which will be published later this year for comment.

The MIDC has Regional Managers on staff to provide direction and guidance to indigent defense delivery systems around the state on compliance with MIDC-enacted standards.  The Regional Managers serve as liaisons between local systems and the MIDC.  The Regional Managers have been working in every county in Michigan in the last several months, learning about local systems and gathering information and ideas for complying with standards.  They have answers to all of the most common questions, they can provide technical information about how to determine spending on indigent defense, and they are prepared to offer practical solutions for compliance to maximize the impact of improvements.  The MIDC has recently hired two new Regional Managers: as of March 2017, Tanya Grillo serves Lapeer, Macomb, Oakland and St. Clair Counties; Jana Mathieu will begin working as the new Regional Manager for Northern Michigan in May.  Both Tanya and Jana are experienced criminal defense attorneys and based in their respective regions.  They will work closely with the Regional Manager team that also includes Barbara Klimaszewski (mid-Michigan), Chris Dennie (Western Michigan), Ashley Carter (South Central Michigan) and Kelly McDoniel (Wayne County).  All stakeholders are welcome to contact the Regional Managers to discuss the standards and how to implement them locally.  See the MIDC’s website for the managers assigned to a particular region, at http://michiganidc.gov/midc-regional-consultant-assignment-and-contact-information/

Compliance with the standards will be contingent on grant funding from the State of Michigan distributed by the MIDC, and Rebecca Mack has been hired by the MIDC as a Grant Manager to help plan for and facilitate those requests.  Ms. Mack has extensive experience in grants and financial management with the Michigan courts.  She will begin working for the MIDC in June.
The MIDC will meet on June 20, 2017 for the next regularly scheduled meeting.  The Commission meets at 1:00 p.m. in Lansing and all meetings are open to the public.  Information about upcoming meetings, or agendas and minutes from prior meetings can be found on our website at http://michiganidc.gov/michigan-indigent-defense-commission/commission-meetings/.  We will continue to post progress about our work and any other developments about indigent defense in Michigan on our website as well.  
Marla McCowan
Director of Training, Outreach and Support
200 N. Washington Square, 3rd Floor
Lansing, MI 48913
(517) 657-3066