June 17, 2008

MI: "Michigan is muting Gideon's trumpet"

From the State Bar of Michigan:

Evaluation of Trial-Level Indigent Defense Systems in Michigan - A Race to the Bottom - Speed & Savings Over Due Process - A Constitutional Crisis

The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) finds that the state of Michigan fails to provide competent representation to those who cannot afford counsel in its criminal courts... Though the level of services varies from county to county – giving credence to the proposition that the level of justice a poor person receives is dependent entirely on which side of a county line one’s crime is alleged to have been committed instead of the factual merits of the case – NLADA finds that none of the public defender services in the sample counties are constitutionally adequate...

The NLADA news release caption has a sting to it: Michigan Ranks 44th in the Nation for Public Defense Spending; So-called "McJustice" System Puts Communities at Risk

(Via The Grand Rapids Press: Public defender system denies justice to poor, report says)

Update: via Disgusted Beyond Belief, here's a link to the Michigan Campaign for Justice, "fighting for a fair and effective public defense system."