Litigation Support for MAACS Roster Attorneys


Michigan’s indigent felony appellate defense system is divided into two parts. The State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) represents approximately 25% of indigent appellants and provides its staff attorneys and clients with support, on-staff investigative services, and expert witness funds. 
 
The remaining 75% of indigent appellants—over 2,000 individuals—are handled by approximately 150 private attorneys overseen by the Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System (MAACS), a division of SADO. Although regulated at the state level, MAACS roster attorneys are funded by counties. MAACS representation has historically suffered from inadequate and unpredictable attorney fees and resistance to funds for investigative and expert witness support. Not surprisingly, surveys reveal that relatively few MAACS roster attorneys conducted fact investigations for their indigent clients or were comfortable using newly developed facts on direct appeal. 
 
From 2015-2018, MAACS received funding from a federal Byrne Justice Assistance Grant to form the Appellate Investigation Project (AIP), which extended investigative services and litigation support to the MAACS roster. This led to new forensic testing of critical evidence, expert witness testimony, evidence of jury bias, challenges to the reliability of convictions, the presentation of new mitigating evidence for resentencing purposes (including juvenile life without parole resentencing proceedings), and new trials.  
 
The success and popularity of the AIP led to the establishment of a new position at MAACS: Litigation Support Counsel. This position is held by veteran criminal defense attorney, Patricia A. Maceroni. Ms. Maceroni helps MAACS attorneys formulate investigation strategies, identify expert needs, obtain funding for necessary services, and interact with expert witnesses. She also mentors new attorneys as they join the roster. You can read more about Ms. Maceroni here and contact her at pmaceroni@sado.org.