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Public Defense Bill Stalled in Committee

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The state Attorney General has stalled a plan to overhaul Michigan’s public defense system. As Michigan Public Radio’s Jake Neher reports, supporters were hoping the bill would pass in a committee hearing Thursday morning.

Almost everyone agrees Michigan needs to improve its system for providing defense attorneys to those who can’t afford one. The state is consistently ranked as one of the worst in the country.

But Bill Schuette’s legislative relations director Alan Cropsey came to the hearing with a long list of concerns about the bill. He says it would open the state to lawsuits, and doesn’t provide enough oversight. Cropsey’s testimony ate up a big chunk of the hearing, which was forced to adjourn without a vote.

Republican Representative John Walsh chairs the House Judiciary Committee. He scolded Cropsey and the Attorney General for not bringing their criticisms forward sooner.                      

“Your card indicates neutrality," he said. "There was nothing in your presentation that would indicate neutrality.”

Supporters of the bill hope to have another hearing this month.

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