Barry Scheck, renowned for co-founding the Innocence Project that has exonerated many wrongfully convicted people through the use of DNA evidence, will be the keynote speaker for the State Bar Criminal Law Section on Friday, Sept. 15 in conjunction with the Annual Meeting in Ypsilanti. His speech is entitled, "Gideon's Trumpet: Taps or Reveille."
Scheck's address at 1:15 p.m. will lead off a joint program of the Criminal Law Section and the Michigan Public Defense Task Force on "Fixing Michigan's Broken Public Defense System." This program begins at 2 p.m. with committee elections.
Also at 2 p.m., five recent presidents of the State Bar—Kimberly Cahill, Thomas Cranmer, Nancy Diehl, Bruce Neckers and Thomas Ryan—will hold a press conference to discuss the inadequacies of Michigan's public defense system and offer strategies to fix the problems. "The time has come to critically examine the public defense system in Michigan because it lacks consistency and uniformity," said Cranmer, the outgoing president of the State Bar. "The amount of money in your pocket should not determine the justice you receive."
Ken Wyniemko, a DNA exoneree and an advocate for criminal justice reform, will also be present at the press conference. Wyniemko faced up to 60 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted in 1994. He was freed after nine years when DNA lab results proved his innocence.
Other program highlights include:
- A special videotaped address "… and justice for all," by former Attorney General Janet Reno.
- Speaker David Carroll of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association will present an overview of the right to counsel in the United States. Carroll is presently directing a study of the Michigan public defense system authorized by the state Legislature.
- A panel discussion entitled " Gideon's Trumpet: A Call to Arms!" will be moderated by Cahill, the new State Bar president. Panelists include Elliott S. Hall, Lead Counsel for Public Defense Litigation, Michigan; Randi Hood, Chief Defender, Montana; Emmet Bondurant, Chair of the Public Defender Standards Council, Georgia; and Mike Mears, Director of the Public Defender Standards Council, Georgia. They'll discuss the national crisis in the delivery of adequate public defense services; the ways in which two states, Montana and Georgia, have overhauled their systems; and current legislative and litigation initiatives designed to bring Michigan's public defense system into the 21st century.