Innovation Grant Awards in the Latest News from the MIDC

The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission met on July 31st and again in August 15th in an effort to provide resources and information for funding units planning for compliance with the first standards for indigent criminal defense systems.  Every trial court funding unit in Michigan is required to submit a plan for compliance with the first four standards, along with a cost analysis, to the MIDC no later than November 20, 2017. Those first four standards cover training and education of counsel, the initial client interview, use of investigation and experts, and counsel at first appearance and other critical stages. The full text of the standards approved by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs can be found on the MIDC’s website.

The MIDC has published several documents to assist funding units with compliance planning: a detailed application with instructions for completing the form, a guide for submission of compliance plans, cost analyses, and local share calculations, as well as sample plans for a variety of systems to consider. The MIDC’s website has a grants page containing a complete collection of information.

The MIDC’s Regional Managers continue to work statewide to assist with compliance planning. Rebecca Mack, the MIDC’s Grant Manager, will conduct webinar-based application workshops coordinated with each Regional Manager throughout the month of September. All work group members are welcome and invited to attend these sessions. The MIDC’s calendar has information to register for each workshop.

Earlier this summer, the MIDC published three new standards for feedback and comment by stakeholders in the criminal justice system. The next standards address the need for independence from the judiciary, defender workload limitations, and qualification and review of attorneys accepting assignments in adult criminal cases. The comment period remains open until October 6, 2017. The full text of those standards and a link to instructions for submitting comments is available online.

At the August 15, 2017 meeting, the Commission discussed a proposed standard on economic disincentives and incentives.  Dr. Jonah Siegel, the MIDC’s Research Director, explained the challenges in establishing reasonable fees due to a lack of calculation information nationwide and discussed combinations of rates and overhead expenses for potential MIDC required hourly attorney fees.  The standard will be developed further by the Commission this fall and discussed at the October 2017 meeting.  The Commission will invite public comments prior to finalizing the standard.

As part of the MIDC’s mandate to establish best practices for delivering the effective assistance of counsel to indigent defendants charged with crimes, the Commission offered a competitive grant opportunity to fund programs dedicated to improving indigent defense locally and statewide.  Separate from permanent compliance planning, these grants will allow local systems to pursue innovative projects to immediately improve indigent defense. Sixteen applications were received in July for projects that will begin this fall. At the August 15th meeting, the Commission voted to fund the following projects:

  • Allegan/Van Buren Regional Indigent Defense Program (RIDP): To explore an innovative regional model regarding the implementation of a joined/hybrid Public Defender Office to provide Indigent Defense Services;
  • Calhoun County Indigent Defense Intake Study: To identify and develop best practices for the indigent defense intake and reimbursement process to identify the truly indigent, assure integrity of the system and increase compliance with reimbursement orders;
  • Feasibility Study of Multi-County Administration of a Managed Appointment Model for Indigent Defense Services: Study the feasibility of joining Mecosta County with 5 other counties to provide a single administrator to manage each county’s indigent service plan;
  • Feasibility Study for the creation of a Managed Assigned Counsel Model for the 3rd Class District Courts of Macomb County: Study the feasibility of joining with the other 3rd Class District Courts in Macomb County to provide a single administrator to manage each of the district court’s indigent service plan;
  • Assessment of Metropolitan Justice Center State Defender Office (Wayne County) Felony Practice: Obtain the consulting services of The Defender Initiative at Seattle University and its partner The Sixth Amendment Center with the assistance of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association to study SDO’s felony representation.

The grants will be awarded on a one-time basis for projects that will conclude no later than September 2018. Systems will be required to report on progress regularly.

The MIDC will meet next on October 17, 2017 for a regularly scheduled meeting. The Commission meets at 1:00 p.m. in Lansing and all meetings are open to the public. Information about upcoming meetings, or agendas and minutes from prior meetings can be found on our website. We will continue to post progress about our work and any other developments about indigent defense in Michigan on our website as well.

Gov. Snyder Reappoints Michael Puerner to Commission

Governor Rick Snyder has reappointed Michael Puerner of Ada to the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission.

The commission was created as a result of efforts to improve legal representation for low-income criminal defendants. In October 2011, Snyder issued Executive Order 2011-12, establishing the initial Indigent Defense Advisory Commission, responsible for recommending improvements to the state’s legal system. These recommendations served as the basis for legislation to address this need, as well as called for the 15-member Indigent Defense Commission that the governor signed into law in July 2013.

“I thank Michael for his continued commitment to ensuring all Michiganders have access to legal representation,” Snyder said.

Puerner is the vice president, secretary, and general counsel of Hastings Mutual Insurance Company.  He is secretary of the Hastings Mutual Insurance Company Charitable Foundation and chair of the Insurance Alliance of Michigan.  Puerner holds a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Northwestern University and a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School. He will continue to serve as a nominee of the Senate Majority Leader.

Puerner will serve a four-year term expiring April 1, 2021.

Read the full press release here.

Gov. Rick Snyder makes appointment, reappointment to the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission

Gov. Rick Snyder announced the appointment of Joseph Haveman of Holland as well as the reappointment of Thomas McMillin of Rochester Hills to the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission.

The commission was created as a result of efforts to improve legal representation for low-income criminal defendants. In October 2011, Snyder issued Executive Order 2011-12, establishing the initial Indigent Defense Advisory Commission responsible for recommending improvements to the state’s legal system. These recommendations served as the basis for legislation to address this need as well as called for the 15-member Indigent Defense Commission that the governor signed into law in July 2013.

“I’d like to thank these individuals for their commitment to ensuring all Michiganders receive the legal representation they deserve,” Snyder said.

Read the full press release here.

MIDC Summer 2017 Update

The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission met on June 20, 2017.  In addition to a full business agenda, the Commission received a report from staff regarding system reform efforts statewide.  The MIDC has published several documents to assist with compliance planning for the first four standards for indigent criminal defense systems which were approved by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) this spring.  Those first four standards cover training and education of counsel, the initial client interview, use of investigation and experts, and counsel at first appearance and other critical stages.  Every court funding unit in Michigan is required to submit a plan for compliance with the first four standards for indigent defense, along with a cost analysis, to the MIDC no later than November 20, 2017.

The full text of the approved standards can be found on the MIDC’s website.  This link includes the first four standards as well as the next set of proposed minimum standards for indigent criminal defense services.  These next standards address the need for independence from the judiciary, defender workload limitations, and qualification and review of attorneys accepting assignments in adult criminal cases.  The MIDC is also finalizing a proposed standard on economic disincentives and incentives which will be published later this year for comment.  Systems are encouraged to look at the next standards when planning for compliance, and consider the feasibility of larger scale system reform.

Resources that are helpful for compliance planning include:

  • A Guide for Submission of Compliance Plans, Cost Analyses, and Local Share Calculations, designed to answer questions from funding units to prepare documents to submit to the MIDC, available here.
  • Answers to the most frequently asked questions from funding units, in a shorter handout form, available on the MIDC’s “helpful information” tab on the standards page.
  • Regional Managers are on staff to provide direction and guidance to indigent defense delivery systems around the state on compliance with MIDC-enacted standards.  See the MIDC’s website for the managers assigned to a particular region on this map.
  • Systems interested in large scale reform such as creating a public defender office or a managed assigned counsel system will want to review the MIDC’s guide, Delivery System Reform Models: Planning Improvements in Public Defense, available online on our resources page.
  • Stakeholders should review white papers prepared for each of the first four standards describing background information as well as details for implementing each standard.
  • A report detailing the progress in Huron County piloting a counsel at first appearance project is available on the MIDC’s website along with other reports from data collection.

The Commission has announced the availability of limited grant funds for local governments that fund trial courts to initiate projects that address best practices, improvements, or innovations to the local delivery of indigent defense services.  Grants will be awarded up to $80,000 for one year beginning October 1, 2017.  Separate from permanent compliance planning, these grants allow for local governments to pursue innovative projects to immediately improve indigent defense.  Read the announcement and all of the latest news on the MIDC’s website.

In 2016, the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission gathered basic information from attorneys on their experiences in indigent defense.  The responses that we received documented the prevalence of inadequate compensation in indigent defense systems across the state.  That report is now published on the MIDC’s website: Attorney Perspectives on Michigan’s Criminal Indigent Defense System: A Report of the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (June 2017).

As a follow up, the MIDC is seeking more in-depth information about attorney compensation and costs.  ALL CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS are asked to take approximately 10 minutes to provide this valuable information to the MIDC no later than July 3, 2017.  These experiences will directly inform the development of the MIDC’s proposed Standard 8, Economic Disincentives or Incentives.  The MIDC is interested in perspectives even if attorneys do not currently take or never have taken court-appointed cases.  All responses are ANONYMOUS.  The survey can be accessed here.

he 2016 survey of defense attorneys also revealed concerns over the case assignment process and a lack of independence from the judiciary.  The concerns led the MIDC’s Research Unit to investigate the distribution of case assignments across circuit courts in Michigan to assess the prevalence of imbalance in the assignment process.  Eight circuits were selected for the study, which revealed that the majority of courts examined do not consistently appoint attorneys on a balanced rotational basis even when their assignment processes appear, on paper, to be independent and fair:  “In some instances, there are extreme differences between the top and bottom portion of attorneys accepting cases.”  That research brief is available on the MIDC’s website.

The MIDC will meet next on July 31, 2017 for a special additional meeting in advance of compliance plan deadlines.  The Commission meets at 1:00 p.m. in Lansing and all meetings are open to the public.  Information about upcoming meetings, or agendas and minutes from prior meetings can be found here.  We will continue to post progress about our work and any other developments about indigent defense in Michigan on our website as well.

Contact:

Marla McCowan

Director of Training, Outreach & Support

MIDC Releases Guide for Compliance Planning and Offers Innovation Grants in 2017

At the June 20, 2017 Commission meeting, the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission released a guide to submission of compliance plans to meet minimum standards.  The Commission also announced the availability of limited grant funds for local governments that fund trial courts to initiate projects that address best practices, improvements, or innovations to the local delivery of indigent defense services.  Grants will be awarded up to $80,000 for one year beginning October 1, 2017.  Separate from permanent compliance planning, these grants allow for local governments to pursue innovative projects to immediately improve indigent defense.

Read the MIDC’s Guide for Submission of Compliance Plans, Cost Analyses, and Local Share Calculations.

Additional helpful information for funding units can be found on our standards page, here.

Read the Innovation Grants announcement and see the application here. As a convenience, a Microsoft Word version of the application is here.  Applications must be submitted no later than July 28, 2017 to opportunities@michiganidc.gov.

For more information about grants from the MIDC, see our grants page.

MIDC Compensation Survey for Criminal Defense Attorneys

Calling ALL Criminal Defense Attorneys: Take our Survey by July 3rd

In 2016, the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission gathered basic information from attorneys on their experiences in indigent defense.  The responses that we received documented the prevalence of inadequate compensation in indigent defense systems across the state.  As a follow up, we are seeking more in-depth information about attorney compensation and costs.

ALL CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS are asked to take approximately 10 minutes to provide this valuable information to the MIDC.  Your experiences will directly inform the development of our proposed Standard 8, Economic Disincentives or Incentives.  We are interested in your perspective even if you do not currently take or never have taken court-appointed cases.

All responses are ANONYMOUS. The survey can be completed below, or accessed here.

Powered by Obsurvey

LARA Approves MIDC’s First Set of Standards for Indigent Defense Delivery Systems

In an Order dated May 22, 2017, LARA Director Shelly Edgerton has approved the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission’s first set of minimum standards for indigent defense delivery systems. The minimum standards involve education and training, the initial client interview, experts and investigators, and counsel at first appearance in front of a judge or magistrate and other critical stages. Edgerton’s approval follows a thorough review and a public comment period. Edgerton’s order approving the standards can be found here.

“This is an important step towards Michigan meeting constitutional requirements for the right to counsel and implementing an equal system of justice for everyone,” said MIDC Executive Director Jonathan Sacks.

Every court funding unit in Michigan is now required to submit a plan for compliance with the standards and a cost analysis to the MIDC within 180 days.

The MIDC has regional managers located throughout the state, who will work with local court funding units to create plans to comply with the minimum standards. Contact information for the regional managers is available on the MIDC’s website.

A second set of draft standards was recently published for comment. The next set of standards addresses independence from the judiciary, defender workloads, and qualification and review of attorneys accepting assignments in adult criminal cases. A standard on compensation is being developed and will be published for comment later this year.

Details of all the standards can be found here.

The full press release can be found on LARA’s website.

 

MIDC Proposes Next Set of Standards for Indigent Criminal Defense Services

View the latest news from the MIDC here.

The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission met on April 18, 2017 at the MIDC office in Lansing, Michigan.  At that meeting, the Commission announced that the first four standards for indigent criminal defense services are pending a decision by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs now that the public comment period closed on March 9, 2017.  Those first four standards cover training and education of counsel, the initial client interview, use of investigation and experts, and counsel at first appearance and other critical stages.

The MIDC has drafted and approved for publication the release of the next set of proposed minimum standards for indigent criminal defense services.  These next standards address the need for independence from the judiciary, defender workload limitations, and qualification and review of attorneys accepting assignments in adult criminal cases.  The full text of all of standards can be found on the MIDC’s website. Comments on the newly proposed standards can be sent to comments@michiganidc.gov or mailed to the MIDC’s Lansing office.

The MIDC invites all stakeholders in the criminal justice community and the general public to provide feedback on the proposed standards.  The MIDC is also finalizing a proposed standard on economic disincentives and incentives which will be published later this year for comment.

View the MIDC’s standards on our website or download the complete set of the MIDC’s standards here.

 

MIDC Releases White Papers for Standards 1, 2, 3 and 4

In 2015, the MIDC proposed four initial standards for indigent defense delivery systems to address: training and education of counsel, the initial client interview, use of investigation and experts, and counsel at first appearance and other critical stages.  Both the MIDC and the Michigan Supreme Court held public hearings on the first four minimum standards and changes were made to those standards reflecting concerns expressed at those hearings.  The MIDC discussed the changes made by the Michigan Supreme Court in the June 1, 2016 Order and formally adopted those changes during the MIDC’s regularly scheduled meeting on December 20, 2016.  At that meeting the MIDC also voted to submit those first four minimum standards to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) pursuant to the process detailed through recent legislative amendments to the MIDC Act.

The MIDC submitted the first set of standards for indigent defense to LARA in early February 2017 and comments were submitted through March 9, 2017.  The full text of the standards as well as all comments submitted can be viewed on the MIDC’s website. Now that the comment period has closed, LARA will thoroughly review the information provided and make a decision on whether to approve the standards.

Once the standards are approved, every indigent defense delivery system in Michigan is required to submit a plan for compliance with the standards together with a cost analysis to the MIDC.  These submissions must be made to the MIDC within 180 days from the date that the standards are approved by LARA.  See M.C.L. §780.993(3).

In an effort to assist all stakeholders with the implementation of the standards, the MIDC has prepared white papers detailing the rationale and compliance models for each standard.  Indigent defense delivery systems are strongly encouraged to review these white papers and coordinate through work groups a plan for compliance.  The white papers can be reviewed on the MIDC’s website, or the complete set of white papers and standards can be downloaded here.

The MIDC has Regional Managers working statewide to provide direction and guidance and serve as the liaisons between local systems and the MIDC.  A map detailing the assignments and contact information for the Regional Managers is available online.

When planning for compliance, some systems have asked about the next standards being developed by the MIDC.  The next standards will address financial incentives and disincentives in compensating assigned counsel, caseload capacities, qualification and review of attorneys eligible for assignments, and independence from the judiciary.  Like the first standards, these requirements are derived from the MIDC Act, constitutional principles, or nationally accepted models for delivering public defense services.  These next standards will be discussed at the next MIDC meeting on April 18, 2017.  Information about upcoming meetings and minutes from prior meetings can be found on the MIDC’s website.

Each county will select its desired indigent defense delivery method to comply with the MIDC standards, and multiple models ranging from a defender office, an assigned counsel list, contract attorneys, or a mix of systems will be available.  The MIDC’s responsibility and authority is to work with the counties and courts to ensure compliance with minimum standards, not to select a particular system.  The MIDC has been contacted by several systems interested in improving their models for delivering indigent defense – for example, by setting up a public defender office.  The MIDC is pleased to offer a guide for consultation, Delivery System Reform Models: Planning Improvements in Public Defense (December 2016).  This resource is available on the MIDC’s website.

In February, the MIDC approved for publication the 2016 Year in Review: Impact Report, which describes the most recent full year of activity by the MIDC and its staff and how we are implementing change.  Read it here.  To learn more about the MIDC, visit our website and follow us on twitter and Instagram @michiganidc.

Contact:

Marla McCowan

Director of Training, Outreach and Support

mmccowan@michiganidc.gov

(517) 657-3066

Michigan Indigent Defense Commission Seeking Public Comment on Minimum Standards

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) issued a press release reflecting that the MIDC submitted the first set of standards for indigent defense delivery systems:

The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC), now housed in the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), has submitted proposed standards to LARA and is seeking public comment on the first set of minimum standards for indigent defense delivery systems. The minimum standards involve education and training, the initial client interview, experts and investigators, and counsel at first appearance and other critical stages in front of a judge. Following a public comment period, LARA Director Shelly Edgerton will thoroughly review the information provided and make a decision on whether to approve the standards.

Comments on the standards can be submitted to the MIDC until March 9, 2017.

Read the standards on the MIDC’s website along with comments previously submitted.

Read the press release issued by LARA here.