Public Defense Overhaul Clears State Legislature, Goes To Snyder’s Desk

Jun 19, 2013

Lawmakers in Lansing have sent legislation to Governor Rick Snyder that would overhaul Michigan’s public defense system.

As The Michigan Public Radio Network’s Jake Neher reports, lawmakers have been debating ways to fix the system for years.

Governor Snyder is one of many officials who say the state needs to overhaul the way it appoints criminal defense attorneys to the poor. He says many indigent defendants are not getting adequate representation in court.

Represenatative Tom McMillin says that means innocent people are needlessly going to prison.

“What could be more outrageous, if that’s happening?”  he asks.  “And what’s more important (than) to try and stop that?”

Similar legislation stalled last year when some lawmakers questioned whether there was actually a problem with the state’s public defense system.

The bills passed the House and Senate with bi-partisan support.