Today was the deadline for Michigan counties to submit plans for indigent defense reform to the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC). Those plans must include the adoption of four new standards established by the MIDC last May.
Counties were submitting compliance plans throughout the day Monday.
Thomas Boyd is a judge in Michigan’s 55th district court, and a member of the MIDC. Created in 2013, the commission establishes new standards for public defenders to protect the rights of poor people accused of a crime.
“Michigan’s systems fail on a number of criteria to meet that which is required by the United States Constitution,” Boyd said. “To say [we’re going to] raise the bar isn’t to say that we’re trading in a Chevy for a Cadillac. It’s to say that we’re going to make sure that this vehicle has four wheels.”
Boyd says other states have used a similar process improve legal services for the poor. Counties will have to submit compliance plans annually, and adopt any further new standards approved by the MIDC.
Ingham County’s compliance plan, which Boyd helped craft, asks the MIDC for $4.7 million in grant money. The largest chunk of funding would go toward creating and staffing a new public defender’s office.
The MIDC is seeking public comment on its next four proposed indigent defense standards until February 1, 2018.