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MI State Law – Michigan Supreme Court Disregards Court-Appointed Attorney Lawsuit

Each person charged with a crime in the United States has the right to an attorney present during any questioning by law enforcement officials and others interested in the details of a criminal investigation. If the suspect is unable to afford one, a lawyer will be provided for them by the court system. Knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys in Michigan can attest, however, that court-appointed counsel is not always the greatest. Often, these lawyers are among the most inexperienced, lowest paid, and are given a bigger caseload then they could reasonably handle. Because of this, poor individuals suspected of crimes are at an immediate disadvantage because they subsequently receive lower quality legal assistance.

Lawsuit Hope To Set Precedence For Change

In 2007, a lawsuit was filed claiming that the rights of low income residents have been violated because the lower-paid Michigan court-appointed attorneys usually force a suspect into a plea bargain. Focusing on Muskegon, Berrien, and Genessee counties, supporters of the suit hoped that it would set a precedent for change statewide.

A few months ago, the case was sent back to trial court for more debate. However, just a few days ago the Michigan Supreme Court handed down a 4-3 decision dismissing the 2007 lawsuit. For the majority, Justice Stephen Markman wrote that there is no constitutional right to a lawyer of a certain skill or experience level.

On the other hand, there are several people who are distraught over the court’s dismissal of the lawsuit. American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan legal director Michael Steinberg was incredibly disturbed over the decision, remarking “The court essentially ruled that it is powerless to address this systemic problem, yet it is the solemn duty of the courts to issue rulings when systems are unconstitutional.” Dissenting justices for the minority opinion wrote that the ruling “slams the door in plaintiffs’ faces,” making it more difficult for people of lower socio-economic status to receive a fair trial.

This recent ruling by the high court is disheartening, particularly to those who believe in each person’s right to be properly represented in criminal proceedings. Poorer individuals are automatically put at a disadvantage because they must use court-appointed lawyers, not necessarily insuring the best outcome possible for their case. To safeguard yourself in criminal cases, it is important to retain a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in Michigan for assistance. The superior legal advice and legal representation you will receive is invaluable for maintaining your innocence and protecting your freedoms and rights.

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