Frank Eaman was recently interviewed in the “Asked and Answered” column of the Legal News, which appeared in the Detroit edition on June 25, 2015 and in the Jackson Legal News on July 6, 2015. Mr. Eamon discussed his role in indigent defense, including his experience prior to his appointment to the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission. He talked about the work of the Commission and answered questions about the first set of proposed standards submitted for public comment. The first standard covers the role of training and education of defense counsel, which Mr. Eaman explained is essential to the constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel:
Attorney training and education is a huge component of an adequate public defense. The criminal law, and the criminal code, is constantly changing. I have been practicing over 43 years, and I can’t tell you how many times the drug laws, alone, have changed during that time – criminalizing different substances and changing penalties. Also, the United States Supreme Court is constantly deciding cases that affect criminal defendants. Just recently, for instance, the Court held that the contents of a cell phone cannot be searched without a warrant. Annual training on the changes in the law are necessary. And, the basic skills required of a trial lawyer are different than the skills required of, say, business lawyers. Being able to navigate the court system, and learning how to make opening statements, closing arguments, objections, and how to participate in the jury selection process are usually not taught in law school (unless the student takes a trial skills class). Throwing lawyers into a courtroom to defend someone accused of a crime without any training, and not training lawyers on the changes in the law, is inconsistent with the specific objectives of the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission Act, and the Sixth Amendment requirement of effective assistance of counsel.
Read the most recent article online in the Jackson Legal News.