Questions remain about legal services for the poor

Capital News Service
LANSING — Lawmakers have taken a step toward standardizing legal representation for low-income people accused of crimes. The proposal by Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester, would establish an independent Michigan Indigent Defense Commission to issue minimum standards to ensure the constitutional rights of defendants who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. “We have to be more ensuring that there is a reasonable defense for the indigents,” McMillin said. According to a recent report by a state advisory commission, problems in the current system include a heavy workload for lawyers, lack of independence and lack of experience among those handling complex cases. Meanwhile, each county determines what level of service is adequate and how each county will fund it.