MariaRosa Palmer receives Amanda Smith Award

From the June 2024 Criminal Defense Newsletter

The Appellate Defender Commission presented MAACS Assignment and Office Manager MariaRosa Palmer with the 2023 Amanda Smith Core Employee Award. The award is named after the 2021 recipient of the SADO Staff Award, Amanda Smith, who worked at SADO for 39 years before her retirement in 2022.

MariaRosa began working at MAACS in 1994 as a part-time file clerk. Three years later she became a full-time administrative support staffer and was promoted in 2011 to Office Manager. Her responsibilities have increased over time including grants, training, budgeting, caseload reporting, and other support for a private assigned counsel roster that at times included over 400 attorneys.

MariaRosa currently serves as MAACS Assignment and Office Manager, but this title hardly describes the many roles she has held. She has managed new reporting requirements involving attorney time and fees, implemented a new regional assignment process, ensured the timely appointment of counsel in thousands of indigent appeals annually, implemented a new voucher review system, worked with trial court staff throughout Michigan to implement new procedures, and handled countless other responsibilities. MariaRosa has tackled each new responsibility with a positive attitude and teamwork mentality. Her intellect, judgment, and flexibility have proven invaluable in implementing a smooth and successful top-to-bottom reform of MAACS over the past ten years.

Of all these evolving responsibilities, MariaRosa still finds that the most rewarding and satisfying part of her job is the ability to help clients and their families in crisis. Many times a week, individuals call MAACS with questions about the status of their request for counsel, the timeline for appointment, or the appellate process generally. MariaRosa handles each of these calls with admirable compassion and knowledge, helping people understand and navigate a complex system under stress.

Brad Hall
MAACS Administrator