Public Policy Update from the State Bar of Michigan
June 2–8, 2008
Volume 6 Issue 23

FOCUS: Public Defense Services in Michigan
Last legislative session, Senator Alan Cropsey sponsored SCR 39 that was adopted with broad bipartisan support and co-sponsorship. The concurrent resolution, asserting that the people of Michigan "expect the government to administer a system of justice that is just, swift, accountable, and frugal," requested the State Bar of Michigan and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association to issue a joint report to the Legislature on the number and types of cases and the costs resulting from court-appointed attorneys for indigent criminal cases in Michigan."

The National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) report will be released on June 17 during a press conference at the State Bar of Michigan. The report will be available on the NLADA website and the State Bar's website.

The question of the adequacy of Michigan's system for providing public criminal defense services has long been a subject of intense interest and debate. The NLADA study is grounded in courtroom observations and on-site interviews with representatives of legal communities in ten counties. The study supplements information currently collected by the State Court Administrator's Office. It is hoped that the information it offers will be a crucial step forward to advancing the discussion of how public defense services are delivered in Michigan.

The ten counties included in the study are Alpena, Bay, Chippewa, Grand Traverse, Jackson, Marquette, Oakland, Ottawa, Shiawassee, and Wayne. The counties were selected by a group of stakeholders to represent the state in terms of geography, size, economy and type of delivery system. Research teams comprised of experts from around the country spent a significant amount of time in each county, interviewing all stakeholders in the justice system, watching courtrooms and compiling data.

FOCUS: Legal Representation for Veterans
United States Senate Bill 3421 was signed into law in December 2006. A hybrid of House Resolution 4914 and Senate Bill 2694, S. 3421 is a partial repeal of a Civil War Era prohibition against veterans compensating a lawyer to represent them in pursuing their due veterans benefits before the Veterans Administration. Veterans are now able to hire counsel starting with their first appeal. The bill also included a number of comprehensive efforts to regulate, certify and accredit those who would appear before the VA. Several setbacks were encountered, including a number of comments that expressed concern that certain proposals could adversely affect the number of lawyers willing to take such cases pro bono. However, the final regulations were issued on May 22, 2008 and eliminate barriers for pro bono representation. Information provided by Kenneth J. Goldsmith, Legislative Counsel, American Bar Association.
See related:
United States Senate Bill 3421
ABA Position and ABA Letter to Senate Members Urging Support
Federal Register Department of Veterans Affairs: Accreditation of Agents and Attorneys

In the Capitol
Committee Meetings of Interest for the Week of 6/9
6/10 Senate Judiciary
Agenda: HB 4330 Provide for requirement of GPS monitoring device for individuals convicted of aggravated stalking; HB 4453 Provide for GPS monitoring and notification of defendants charged with domestic violence crimes and released on bail; SB 370 Eliminate requirement for post-purchase pistol safety inspection; SB 371 Repeal, and eliminate certain other references to pistol safety inspections for crime of failing to have pistol safety inspected after purchase.

6/11 House Judiciary
Agenda: HR 310 A resolution to memorialize the United States Congress to enact the Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education Act, the Youth PROMISE Act; HB 6096 Provide for enhanced restitution for victims of identity theft; HB 6097 Provide for enhanced restitution for victims of identity theft; HB 6098 Provide for enhanced restitution for victims of identity theft; HB 6099 Expand remedies for identity theft protection act; HB 6100 Require development of model identity theft police report by state police; HB 6101 Prohibit certain identity theft by criminal defendants and persons under criminal investigation; HB 6102 Require certain disclosures to consumers when personal identifying information in databases is transferred; HB 6103 Require certain disclosures of personal identifying information included in business and public records to consumers; HB 6104 Establish identity theft commission; HB 6105 Establish maximum retention period for personal identifying information.

Complete Committee Meeting List

New Public Acts

Legislation Introduced 6/3–6/5
Of Interest to the Legal Community
HB 6223 Probate; trusts; certification of trust existence and authority; clarify that attorney signature is 1 alternative.

In the Hall of Justice
Judicial Misconduct Allegations at Issue in Case to be Argued Before Michigan Supreme Court Next Week

Rule Amendments
2007-09—Amendment of Rule 2.306 of the Michigan Court Rules
Issued: May 30, 2008
Effective: September 1, 2008

2007-09—Amendment to May 30, 2008, Order
On order of the Court, the order of May 30, 2008, is amended to correct a clerical error in the mis-designation of subsections.
Issued: June 2, 2008
Effective: September 1, 2008

At the Bar
State Bar of Michigan Offers Identity Theft Product as a Member Discount Program

The State Bar of Michigan's Public Policy, Image, and Identity Committee will meet on Tuesday, June 10 and the Board of Commissioners will meet on Friday, June 13. For more information, please contact pcunningham@mail.michbar.org.

Federal News
Justices List Their Assets; Wide Range of Wealth
(New York Times, 6/7/08)

State News
Program to Help Mentally Ill Avoid Jail
(The Jackson Citizen Patriot, 6/6/08)

Links of Interest
Public Policy Resource Center | Michigan Supreme Court | Michigan Legislature | MCL Search Engines