Michigan Lawmakers Push to Fix Indigent Defense

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Legislation aimed at improving legal representation for low-income criminal defendants is nearing final approval in the Michigan Legislature.

The Senate on Wednesday voted 33-4 to send one bill to Gov. Rick Snyder. Another measure is expected to win passage from the House later in the day.

The legislation would create a permanent state commission to establish standards that ensure effective counsel is given to poor defendants.

Local governments would have to pay for court-appointed defense at average levels spent before the creation of the commission. The state would cover new costs for counties to improve their public defense systems, a cost estimated at $50 million a year.
Michigan is among just seven states that provide no state funding for trial-level public defense services.

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