Policies & Reports
The MIDC will periodically prepare and publish reports and analysis of indigent defense services and systems in Michigan. We are required by statute to publish on our website our policies, our budget and expenditures, and our annual report. M.C.L. §780.989(6), §780.999. The MIDC will publish reports of any data collected and analyzed pursuant to M.C.L. §780.989(1)(f) and M.C.L. §780.993(1).
The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission is required to publish its policies and make them available to all attorneys and professionals providing indigent criminal defense services, the Supreme Court, the Governor, the Senate Majority Leader, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the senate and house appropriations committees, and the senate and house fiscal agencies. See MCL §780.989(h)(6). The current policies of the MIDC are described in the bylaws adopted by the Commission itself. The by-laws were adopted by the Commission in February of 2015 and signed by the Chairperson. They provide as follows:
NAME, PURPOSE, AND POWERS
The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission is established by and derives its authority and responsibilities from Public Act 93 of 2013.
MEMBERSHIP, APPOINTMENTS, RESIGNATION, AND TERMINATION
A. Membership. Commission membership shall be designated by the Governor. The Executive Director of the Commission may participate in Commission discussions but shall not have the power to vote on matters considered by the Commission.
B. Resignation. Resignations from the Commission shall be made to the Governor, in conformance with MCL § 780.987.
C. Removal. The Commission may recommend to the Governor removal of a Commission member from the Commission, in compliance with MCL § 780.987(8) and Article V. Section 10 of the Constitution of 1963.
ELECTION OF OFFICERS, ORGANIZATION OF THE COMMISSION
A. Election of Officers and Organization of the Commission. The Commission shall annually elect, by a majority of those present, a Commission Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary. The Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary shall be eligible for reelection. The term of the Chair is limited to three consecutive years. The election shall be held at the regularly-scheduled Commission meeting in December, commencing in 2015. The term of office for the Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary shall comprise one calendar year, commencing on January 1st, and ending on December 31st, commencing January 1, 2015.
- Nominations. The Chair shall annually appoint an ad hoc nominations committee for the purpose of reviewing candidates for the office of Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary. At the regularly scheduled December meeting, the nominations committee Chairperson shall report out to the full Commission and submit nominations for each office. Following the report, the committee is discharged, and the floor shall be opened for additional nominations. Any committee member, or any Commissioner, may nominate a candidate for either office. No second is required to nominate a candidate. A vote shall be taken with new officers’ terms taking effect January 1 of the following year.
- Vacancies. A vacancy in the office of Chair, Vice Chair or Secretary is recognized upon resignation or removal as described in Article II of the Bylaws, or upon death. The Vice Chair is recognized as the presiding officer if the office of Chair is vacant. In the event both the offices of Chair and Vice Chair are vacant, the immediate past-Chair is recognized as the presiding officer. If the immediate past-Chair is not present, then the presiding officer shall be elected by majority vote of those present. Upon vacancy of the Chair, the presiding officer shall re-form the nominations committee, and if necessary appoint new members to the committee at the first regularly scheduled Commission meeting. Elections shall then be held in accordance with Article III of the Bylaws at the next regularly scheduled Commission meeting.
- Core Officer Duties. The Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary shall have the following core duties. The Executive Director shall assist with the coordination and implementation of such duties.
1) Serve as presiding officer of Commission meetings;
2) Appoint standing committees;
3) Serve as a member of the Executive Committee, and as an ex-officio member of all other committees;
4) Coordinate preparation of Commission meeting agendas;
5) Provide formal reports, statements and testimony on behalf of the Commission;
6) Oversee and approve the Commission’s budget and expenditures;
7) Manage and evaluate the performance of the Executive Director;
8) Approve formal press releases and official public statements on behalf of the Commission;
9) Conduct such other duties as are reasonable and customary to fulfill the responsibilities of the Commission.
b. Vice Chair:
1) Perform the duties of the Chair when the Chair is unavailable to perform such duties.
2) At the Chair’s direction, conduct such other duties as are reasonable and customary to fulfill the responsibilities of the Commission.
1) Coordinate the issuance of Commission meeting notices;
2) Ensure that minutes of Commission meetings are recorded;
3) Coordinate press statements and other public communications made by the Commission;
4) At the Chair’s direction, conduct such other duties as are reasonable and customary to fulfill the responsibilities of the Commission.
B. Standing Committees. The Commission shall have the following standing committees, as well as additional standing committees appointed by the Chair and approved by the Commission from time to time, that shall not make decisions of the Commission or engage in deliberations as a quorum of the Commission. All committees may recommend to the Commission best practices in their subject areas and assist in the development of potential compliance plan models for approved standards subject to approval by the Commission.
- Executive Committee. There shall be an Executive Committee of the Commission whose permanent members shall be the Chair, the Vice Chair, and the Secretary of the Commission. The Executive Committee may make recommendations to the full Commission on any business that may be considered by the Commission.The Executive Director shall be a permanent member of the Executive Committee, but shall not have the power to vote on matters considered by the Committee.
- Performance Standards Committee. This committee shall be responsible for overseeing the development of performance standards.
- Indigence & Compensation Standards Committee. This committee shall be responsible for overseeing the development of standards related to compensation and indigence.
- Training and Evaluation Standards Committee. This committee shall be responsible for overseeing the development of standards related to training and evaluation.
- Selection Standards Committee. This committee shall be responsible for overseeing the development of standards related to selection of attorneys.
C. Ad Hoc Committees. The Chair may establish ad hoc committees of Commission members that shall not make decisions of the Commission or engage in deliberations as a quorum of the Commission. Ad hoc committees shall perform specific tasks, and then, after making recommendations to the Commission, be dissolved.
MEETINGS, QUORUM REQUIREMENTS, AND PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURES
A. Regular Meetings. The Commission shall meet no less than four times annually and shall, at its December meeting establish meeting dates for the ensuing year.
B. Special Meetings. The Chair may call a special meeting of the Commission upon determination that business of the Commission requires action prior to the next regularly scheduled meeting. The Chair shall call a special meeting upon the written request of five Commissioners. The agenda for a special meeting of the Commission shall be limited to the specific items for which the meeting was called. A special meeting may be conducted by polling commission members via e-mail.
C. Quorum. A quorum must be present in person, or via communication equipment to the extent permitted by law, for transaction of Commission business. The majority of the serving Commissioners shall constitute a quorum.
D. Presiding Officer. The Chair shall preside at all Commission meetings and perform functions delegated to the Chair by the Commission. In the absence of the Chair, the Vice Chair shall preside and perform functions delegated to the Chair. In the absence of both the Chair and Vice Chair, the immediate past-Chair shall preside and perform the functions delegated to the Chair. If the Chair, Vice Chair and immediate past-Chair are absent, the Commission shall appoint a temporary Chair who shall preside and perform functions delegated to the Chair only for that meeting or until the Chair or Vice Chair arrives.
E. Agenda for Regular Meetings. A proposed agenda of all known business to be conducted by the Commission shall be prepared for all regular meetings of the Commission. The Commission staff in consultation with the Chair shall prepare the agenda. The requirement for an agenda shall not interfere with the Commission’s responsibility to perform the functions specified in the statutes and executive orders in Article I of these Bylaws. The agenda for a regular meeting of the Commission shall include the following.
1 ) Call to Order.
2) Introduction of Commissioners and Guests.
3) Public Comments. Members of the public are provided the opportunity to make comment to the Commission. Public comment to the Commission shall be limited to 3 minutes per speaker and 45 minutes per meeting unless this requirement is waived by the Chair.
4) Additions to Agenda.
5) Approval of Minutes from the Previous Meeting.
6) Report of the Commission Chair, if any.
7) Report of the Executive Director. The Executive Director may deliver a report to the Commission.
8) Committee Reports, if any. Standing or ad hoc committees may deliver reports to the Commission.
9) Business Agenda.
A. Consent Agenda. The consent agenda shall consist of agenda items, which the Chair believes will not require extensive debate. Any Commissioner may request the removal of an item from the consent agenda, to the regular agenda.
B. New Business. The presiding officer opens discussion of new business, which appears on the agenda. Commissioners may raise additional items of new business within the scope of the Commission’s authority.
C. Unfinished Business. The presiding officer shall open discussion of unfinished business from previous meeting(s) which appear(s) on the agenda. Commissioners may raise items of unfinished business not raised by the presiding officer within the scope of the Commission’s authority.
10) Committee of the Whole. The presiding officer may entertain matters not otherwise on the agenda that the Commission wishes to discuss.
11) Announcement of Date, Time, and Location of Next Meeting.
F. Agenda for Special Meeting. The agenda for a special meeting shall be limited to the items determined by the Chair or by the majority of the Commissioners serving.
G. Commissioner Attendance at Meetings. As soon as practicable, a Commissioner shall notify the Chair and/or Executive director of an intended absence.
H. Parliamentary Procedure. The presiding officer shall have the same voting rights as any Commissioners in all questions brought before the Commission, including elections. Any matter of meeting procedure not specified in these Bylaws shall be governed by the most recent version of Roberts Rules of Order, as practicable and as interpreted by the presiding officer.
AMENDMENTS TO BYLAWS
A. Amendments. These bylaws may be amended by a majority vote of the Commission, provided the proposed amendment or amendments have been sent to each Commissioner prior to the meeting.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND ETHICS
A. The Commission may adopt resolutions governing its interpretation of the term “actual expenses” as used in MCL §780.987(7).
B. A Commissioner shall abstain from voting on a question pertaining to funding for training the Commissioner will likely attend or participate in. Members may participate in discussion and debate concerning such questions.
C. A Commissioner shall abstain from voting on a question that concerns possible sanctions of that member or the agency that employs that member.
Modified the 20th day of June, 2017.
/s/ James H. Fisher, Chairperson
The MIDC is required to publish an annual report pursuant to M.C.L. §780.999. The 2016 Year in Review: Impact Report by the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission covers all activities of the Commission and Staff, our budget and expenditures, and recommendations for legislative action pursuant to M.C.L. §780.989(h).
Prior annual reports can be found here:
The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission is required by statute to publish its budget and a listing of all expenditures. Budget, salary and related information is reported publicly on an annual basis pursuant to MCL §780.999. Information can be found in our annual Impact Report which includes a detailed narrative of the expenditures for the last full fiscal year. For the current fiscal year, the expenses through the most recent quarter are as follows:
FY 2017 – through the 3Q (October 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017)
Salaries and Wages: $660,345.08
Retirement and FICA: $387,727.29
Contracted Services, supplies and materials: $74,095.50
Freedom of Information Act Procedure
A. Appointment of FOIA Coordinator. In accordance with section 6 of the FOIA, MCL 15.236, the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (“the Commission”) has appointed a FOIA Coordinator. The name of the FOIA Coordinator is available by contacting the Commission’s office. If the FOIA Coordinator is absent from the office for longer than two days, he or she may appoint a temporary FOIA Coordinator to respond to requests with the FOIA Coordinator’s direction.
B. Submission of FOIA Request. FOIA requests to the Commission can be sent by mail to the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission, Attn: FOIA Coordinator, 200 N. Washington Square, Lansing, MI, 48933. E-mail requests may be submitted to: firstname.lastname@example.org. A request should include a name, telephone number, and mailing address.
C. Immediately forward FOIA Request. Any employee or member of the Commission who receives a written request for a public record must immediately forward that request to the FOIA Coordinator.
If an employee or member of the Commission receives a written request for a public record that is delivered to a spam or junk-mail folder, the individual must record the date and time the written request is delivered to the spam or junk-mail folder and date and time the individual first becomes aware of the written request. The employee must forward those dates and times to the FOIA Coordinator with the written request. If the request is received through the mail, both the request and the envelope must be retained.
A written request for a public record is considered to be a FOIA request unless the requestor specifically states in writing that the request is not being made under FOIA. A written request may be transmitted by facsimile machine, e-mail or any other electronic means.
The Commission’s FOIA Coordinator will review the request and email the individual(s) within the Commission that might possess records responsive to the FOIA request. The individual(s) must provide a written response to the FOIA coordinator as soon as possible, but not later than two business days before the Commission’s FOIA response is due.
D. Request response time. The Commission may extend the time for responding by an additional 10 business days by notifying the requesting person in writing of the reason for the extension and the new due date. MCL 15.235(2)(d) and (6) Due to the short statutory time period within which the Commission must issue a written notice in response to the FOIA request, it is imperative that there be no delay in complying with the Commission’s procedures.
E. Response to a FOIA Request. Only the Commission’s FOIA Coordinator, or his or her temporary designee, will respond to FOIA requests. If a request is denied, in full or in part, the Commission will provide the requester an explanation of the basis of the denial under the FOIA, and give notice to the requester of his or her appeal rights. MCL 15.235(4)
Under MCL 15.231(2) and 15.232(c), prisoners are not entitled to make FOIA requests. Prisoners also have no right to appeal or file suit under FOIA if a request for public records is denied. Therefore, prisoner requests for public records shall not be processed as FOIA requests but instead responded to by staff in the same timely manner as any other correspondence, with requested documents provided as appropriate.
The FOIA Coordinator shall maintain a copy of all FOIA requests received and responses. These documents shall be retained and disposed of in accordance with the Commission’s Document Retention and Disposal Schedule.
F. Assessment of Fees for a FOIA Request. The FOIA permits the Commission to charge a fee for the search, retrieval, examination, review, and separation and deletion of exempt from nonexempt material, but only if the failure to charge a fee would result in unreasonably high costs to the Commission because of the nature of the request in the particular instance, and the Commission specifically identifies the nature of these unreasonably high costs. MCL 15.234(1) and (3)
The following fee guidelines for calculating labor and material costs incurred in processing FOIA requests are established pursuant to MCL 15.234(3):
1. Fees will be uniform and not dependent upon the identity of the requesting person.
2. Fees will be itemized using the attached detailed itemization form and will include:
a. Labor costs for the search, location, and examination of public records will be calculated using the hourly wage of the Commission’s lowest paid employee capable of conducting the search, location, and examination, whether or not they are available or actually perform the labor. Such labor costs shall be estimated and charged in increments of 15 minutes with all partial increments rounded down. The hourly wage will be based on the Commission’s payroll records for the applicable fiscal year. Labor costs shall also include up to 50% of the hourly wage to partially cover the cost of fringe benefits, not to exceed the actual cost of fringe benefits.
b. Labor costs for the review of public records and separation and deletion of exempt from nonexempt material will be calculated using the hourly wage of the Commission’s lowest paid employee capable of conducting the review and separation and deletion of exempt from nonexempt material, whether or not they are available or actually perform the labor. Such labor costs shall be estimated and charged in increments of 15 minutes with all partial increments rounded down. The hourly wage will be based on the Commission’s payroll records for the applicable fiscal year. Labor costs shall also include up to 50% of the hourly wage to partially cover the cost of fringe benefits, not to exceed the actual cost of fringe benefits.
c. Nonpaper physical media costs will be calculated using the actual and most reasonably economical cost of computer discs, computer tapes, and other digital and similar media provided by the Commission.
d. Duplication and publication costs will be calculated using the actual total incremental cost of necessary duplication or publication of a public record, not including labor. The actual and incremental cost, calculated per sheet, shall be charged and will not exceed 10 cents per sheet of paper for letter or legal size paper. The Commission shall use the most economical means available for making copies, including the use of double-sided printing, if cost-saving and available.
e. Labor costs for the duplication or publication of public records, including making paper copies, making digital copies, or transferring digital public records to be produced on nonpaper physical media or through electronic means, will be calculated using the hourly wage of the Commission’s lowest paid employee capable of duplicating or publishing the public records, whether or not they are available or actually perform the labor. Such labor costs shall be estimated and charged in increments of 15 minutes with all partial increments rounded down. The hourly wage will be based on the Commission’s payroll records for the applicable fiscal year. Labor costs shall also include up to 50% of the hourly wage to partially cover the cost of fringe benefits, not to exceed the actual cost of fringe benefits.
f. Actual costs of mailing using a reasonably economical and justifiable manner.
3. No Commission employee shall stipulate to work overtime or include overtime wages in the labor costs described in these procedures and guidelines.
4. If a requester submits an affidavit of indigency, the first $20.00 of a fee will be waived. A requesting person must include a statement that the request is not being made in conjunction with outside parties in exchange for payment or other remuneration.
5. Labor costs for monitoring an inspection of original records will be calculated using the hourly wage of the Commission’s lowest paid employee capable of monitoring the inspection. Labor costs for monitoring an inspection will not be charged for the first hour. The hourly wage will be based on the Commission’s payroll records for the applicable fiscal year. Note: Section 3(3) of the FOIA, MCL 15.233(3), provides, in pertinent part, that “[a] public body shall protect public records from loss, unauthorized alteration, mutilation, or destruction.”
6. If a statute authorizes the sale or production of public records to the public for a specified fee or if a fee for production of public records is otherwise set by statute, the Commission will charge the statutory fee in lieu of a fee calculated using the guidelines set forth above.
7. The Commission will not charge a fee for the search, retrieval, examination, review, and separation and deletion of exempt from nonexempt material that will take less than one hour. If the search, retrieval, examination, review, and separation and deletion of exempt from nonexempt material will take more than one hour, a fee will be charged in accordance with this procedure pursuant to section 4 of the FOIA, MCL 15.234. The hourly wage will be based on the Commission’s payroll records for the applicable fiscal year.
G. Deposit Requirements. If the Commission estimates a fee to process a FOIA request greater than $50.00, the Commission will require a good-faith deposit from the requestor before providing the public records to the requestor. The deposit shall not exceed 1/2 of the total estimated fee. Any written notice containing a notice of a deposit shall also contain a best efforts estimate by the Commission regarding the time frame after a deposit is received that it will take the Commission to provide the public records to the requestor. The time frame estimate is not binding upon the Commission, but the Commission shall provide the estimate in good faith and strive to be reasonably accurate and to provide the public records in a manner based on this State’s public policy under section 1 of the FOIA, MCL 15.231, and the nature of the request in the particular instance.
1. If the Commission charges a fee or denies all or part of a request, the requestor may submit a written appeal to the Chair of the Commission or his or her designee. The appeal must be submitted in writing, mailed or emailed to the addresses listed above, must specifically state the word “appeal” and must identify the reason or reasons for the reduction in fees or a reversal of the denial. MCL 15.240(1)
2. If the Commission charges a fee or denies all or part of a request, the requestor may submit to the Chairperson a written appeal that specifically states the word “appeal” and identifies the basis for which the fee should be reduced or the disclosure determination should be reversed. Written appeals may be sent to the email address or mailing address listed above and will be forwarded to the Attorney General or the person designated by the Attorney General to respond to written appeals.
3. The Chair of the Commission or his or her designee shall do one of the following within 10 business days: reverse the disclosure denial; issue a written notice to the requesting person upholding the disclosure denial; reverse the disclosure denial in part and issue a written notice to the requesting person upholding the disclosure denial in part; or, under usual circumstances, issue a notice extending for not more than 10 business days the period during which the head of the public body shall respond to the written appeal. Not more than one notice of extension shall be issued for a particular written appeal. MCL 15.240(2)
The MIDC has the authority and duty to establish procedures for the mandatory collection of data concerning the operation of the MIDC, each individual attorney providing indigent criminal defense services, each indigent criminal defense system, and the operation of indigent criminal defense services. M.C.L. §780.989(1)(g). Indigent defense delivery systems are required to cooperate and participate with the MIDC in the investigation, audit and review of their indigent criminal defense services. M.C.L. §780.993(1). Reports analyzing data collected and published by the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission include the following:
This brief report summarizes the program model implemented by the 73B District Court, relays the experiences of court stakeholders, and offers suggestions for implementation in other jurisdictions.
Attorney Caseload Distribution in Michigan’s Assigned Counsel Systems – Research Brief (June 2017)
In response to the concerns voiced in the first survey of criminal defense attorneys, the MIDC Research Unit set out to investigate the distribution of case assignments across circuit courts in Michigan to assess the prevalence of imbalance in the assignment process.
Attorney Perspectives on Michigan’s Criminal Indigent Defense System: A Report of the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (June 2017).
As the backbone of indigent representation, publicly appointed criminal defense attorneys must be at the center of systemic reform efforts. To learn more about their experiences representing indigent clients, the MIDC surveyed attorneys who take adult criminal indigent cases in Michigan’s 83 counties.