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Michigan's Public Defense System Subject of U.S. House Hearing

3/25/09

Michigan's failing public defense delivery system will be the subject of a Congressional hearing on Thursday (March 26) in Washington D.C. The United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security will hold a hearing on Representation of Indigent Defendants in Criminal Cases: A Constitutional Crisis in Michigan and Other States?

The Subcommittee will hear testimony from five witnesses who will present findings on how states currently meet the Constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel in criminal proceedings. There will be a special focus on Michigan.

The State Bar of Michigan will be represented by two past presidents—Dennis Archer, chairman of Dickinson-Wright PLLC, and Nancy J. Diehl, chief of the Trial Division in the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office. Regina Daniels Thomas, chief counsel of the Legal Aid and Defender Association Juvenile Law Group in Detroit, also will testify at the hearing.

Last June, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association released a special report entitled "A Race to the Bottom, Speed and Savings Over Due Process: A Constitutional Crisis." It evaluated Michigan's county-by-county system of public defense and concluded that the state failed to meet its Constitutional obligation.

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State Bar of Michigan
306 Townsend St
Lansing, MI 48933-2012
Phone: (517) 346-6300
Toll Free: (800) 968-1442
Fax: (517) 482-6248