Michigan Reform Movement

In October 2011, Governor Snyder issued Executive Order 2011-12, establishing the initial Indigent Defense Advisory Commission, which was responsible for recommending improvements to the state’s legal system. This followed years of work by the Michigan Campaign for Justice (CFJ), a group that advocated for broad improvements to Michigan's indigent defense system. Recommendations from the Advisory Commission served as the basis for legislation to address this need and called for the 15-member Indigent Defense Commission that the governor signed into law in July 2013, launching the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission. The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission Act can be found at MCL 780.981 - 780.1003.  For historic information about the efforts to enact this legislation, please see the archived content on the CFJ's website, which is hosted by SADO.

The Michigan Public Defense Task Force, founded in 2001, is comprised of criminal and juvenile justice professionals, as well as concerned citizens from all walks of life, working to secure a legislative solution to Michigan's critically ill defense services system.

The State Bar of Michigan, the professional association to which all Michigan attorneys must belong, endorsed in 2005 the Eleven Principles of a Public Defense System. The Bar's Committee on Assigned Counsel Standards developed Standards for [Trial Level] Assigned Counsel, August 17, 1996. The Bar’s Representative Assembly adopted the Eleven Principles on April 27, 2002.

The Michigan Legislature adopted in 2006 Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 39, calling for study of Michigan's public defense system by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA).