Michigan Legislature

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.