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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Rethinking Michigan's public defender system

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Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio
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A proposed overhaul to Michigan’s public defense system will have to wait until next year for action by the state Legislature.

State lawmakers passed a flurry of bills in their “lame duck” session. But there were a number of high-profile bills that didn’t move at all.

One of those would change the way the state appoints lawyers to people who can’t afford one.

Michigan’s public defense system is considered one of the worst in the country.

Republican state Representative Tom McMillin says some of his G-O-P colleagues simply aren’t familiar enough with the problem.

“I think they’re going to come to the table, they kind of seemed like they were interested here towards the end, it just kind of ran out of time,” says McMillin.

Critics of the plan say it would burden cash-strapped county governments, and doesn’t lay out specific standards they would have to meet.

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