LANSING, MI (AP)-- Michigan lawmakers have approved legislation aimed at improving the legal counsel for low-income criminal defendants.
Bills overwhelmingly approved by the House and Senate Thursday would create state standards so counties are forced to bring legal aid up to par. The legislation could win final approval next week.
The measure would create a permanent state commission to establish standards that ensure effective counsel is given to poor defendants.
Local governments would have to fund indigent 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.
Michigan is among just seven states that provide no state funding for trial-level public defense services.