Constitution Project Committee Member Briefs Michigan on Urgently Needed Indigent Defense Reforms

Professor Norman Lefstein participates in briefing held in Detroit, Michigan to examine solutions to the indigent defense crisis in America

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Matthew Allee,  (202) 580-6922 or mallee@constitutionproject.org

WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Committee held a briefing today on our country’s indigent defense crisis at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Professor Norman Lefstein, member of the Constitution Project’s National Right to Counsel Committee, participated in the briefing, urging the state to adopt the reforms outlined in Justice Denied: America’s Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel, the Committee’s bipartisan report and recommendations released earlier this year. Professor Lefstein of Indiana University School of Law (Indianapolis) helped author Justice Denied.

“Today’s briefing on the need for reform in the state of Michigan and the nation as a whole comes only days after significant reform legislation was introduced in the state’s House of Representatives,” said Virginia Sloan, president of the Constitution Project. “Chairman John Conyers’ (D-MI) initiative will provide critical support in the state and across the country for ensuring that all Americans have access to counsel in criminal cases. Our nation is failing to live up to the promise of the Supreme Court’s historic decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, which recognized the constitutional right to adequate legal representation for all, regardless of financial status.”

The Michigan Public Defense Act, House Bill 5676, was introduced Thursday morning by Representatives Bob Constan and Justin Amash, both also participating in today’s briefing. Earlier this month, the Constitution Project joined with the Michigan Campaign for Justice in two days of events advocating for indigent defense reforms in the state. National Right to Counsel Committee Co-Chair Robert M.A. Johnson, Anoka County District Attorney in Minnesota, participated in a panel discussion at Cooley Law School in Grand Rapids, gave the keynote speech at a legislative luncheon and briefed state representatives and senators in Lansing.

The Constitution Project’s National Right to Counsel Committee is a bipartisan committee of independent experts representing all segments of America’s justice system. The Committees consensus report, Justice Denied: America’s Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel, is the most comprehensive report on indigent defense in 30 years. The report makes 22 recommendations for urgently-needed reforms to indigent defense systems nationwide.

Click here to view a copy of Justice Denied.

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