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Panel Approving Local Criminal Defense Plans

Door leading to courtroom
Mark Bashore

More local governments are getting money to create better systems to make sure every criminal defendant has a properly trained lawyer through every step of the legal process. Capital Bureau Chief Rick Pluta explains.

The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission rejected most of the funding requests back in January. This time, most of the re-worked plans won board approval. Half a dozen jurisdictions will have to re-submit plans after they were rejected.

Judge Thomas Boyd is a commission member. He says the need to ensure adequate representation is so great, the board needs to make sure none of the money is wasted.

“This is a constitutionally mandated service." Says Boyd. "It needs to be done, but we do not want to waste even one dime.”

Before this, Michigan did not have consistent standards for training and appearances by defense lawyers. The state’s patchwork of local rules was considered one of the worst systems in the country.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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