For decades, leaders in the state have recognized that Michigan’s system of representing poor individuals accused of crimes is broken. Michigan provides no administrative oversight or funding for public defense at the trial level. There is no training for public defense attorneys, no performance standards to govern their practice, and no review of their performance. They have too many cases and insufficient resources to hire outside investigators or experts.In February 2007, the ACLU and its coalition partners filed Duncan v. Granholm, a critically important class action against the state to fix this longstanding problem. The state responded by asking the court to dismiss the case, contending that the counties, not the state, were responsible for any deficiencies in the system.
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