The report card was based on a study by the State Bar of Michigan and the National League Aid and Defender Association that examined how Michigan’s public defense system works in criminal or delinquency proceedings. The study found that Michigan’s system–one of the few in the nation that has no state funding and no statewide standards for monitoring public defender performance–found that the system fails to give defenders the resources to mount effective defenses and that defenders are generally overworked.
Report Card: Michigan’s System Failing
The Michigan campaign for Justice found that Michigan’s system is failing. In eleven areas, including criteria such as funding and competency, Michigan’s system received five “F” and five “D” ratings. The best grade was a “C” for consistency.
Ultimately, these failings are a constitutional issue as the constitution guarantees the right to competent legal representation for the accused. Moreover, the system results in wrongful convictions while the real perpetrators remain free.
Findings Trigger Reform Effort
In the wake of the findings, a broad-based nonpartisan coalition has come together to push for reforms. The coalition will push for legislation that increases funding and implements and enforces national standards.