Michigan Defense Counsel Reform Moves Forward

There is an old lawyer’s joke that the “two things you never want to see how they are made are law and sausages.” The joke applies mostly to legislation (rather than litigation) where there is horse trading to get legislation through and get opponents to back down. HB5804 is the prime example. Most parties (prosecutors, defense counsel, and courts) agree that our current system is “broke,” but can’t agree on the fix or who is going to pay for the fix.

HB5804 is designed to increase the quality of representation, but has had to yield to various needs. Just as the bill was on the verging of passing, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office attempted to derail the bill. They argued that because most ineffective assistance of counsel challenges fail, there is no problem. The Sixth Amendment Center has a
nice piece on the bill, the Attorney General’s 11th hour efforts to derail this bipartisan effort and what is wrong with their position.

Canada Gets Tough on Immigrants Whether they Need to or Not

An interesting article appeared in the Toronto Post about Canada’s new get tough on immigrant policies being pushed by the Harper government. Crime rates are way down, but it is easy to campaign on people’s fear of crime. Sounds like Prime Minister Harper is taking a cue from his neighbor to the south (or north if you are a Detroiter).

Indigent Defense Bill Introduced

In this year of partisan bickering, it is rare to see both party’s agree to anything. A rarely-seen majority of Michigan House Representatives from both sides of the aisle introduced sweeping reform legislation on August 15, 2012, to transform the state’s broken and underfunded indigent defense system. This bill focuses on trial level representation. (Juvenileand appellate representation are not part of it). HB 5804 was co-sponsored by 38 Republicans and 37 Democrats. State Representative Tom McMillin (R – District 45) which tracks the Governor’s recommendation. For more information, click here.

Will the Michigan Legislature Reform Our SORA

Yesterday, Professor Berman noted that there seems to be some movement towards reforming Michigan’s sex offender registration law. Read More...

Michigan Legislature Considers Public Defense Overhall

Yesterday, Judge Kumar of the Oakland County Circuit Court put a stop to a practice that many District Court Judges throughout the state are doing. Prosecuting college students under the age of 21 for minor in possession has become the latest rage in District Courts. Daniel Sowell was a student at Oakland University who pled guilty without counsel to minor in possession. He was sentenced to eighteen months probation. The District Court sentenced Mr. Sowell to an eight day jail sentence sentence in the Oakland County Jail’s WWAM program. Judge Kumar of the Oakland County Circuit Court reversed the ruling stating that jail was not statutorily authorized for MIP violations. People v Sowell, Oakland Circuit No. 09-DA-9011-AR.
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