Skip Navigation

Indefensible: Michigan’s Faltering Public Defender System

The Brennan Center filed an amicus brief urging Michigan’s highest court to hear the case of Duncan v. Michigan, regarding underrepresented criminal defendants.

  • Brennan Center for Justice
March 30, 2010

Mar. 29 – The State of Michigan produces more than its share of wrongful convictions, improper denials of bail, fees demanded when none are due, and defendants that languish in jail unnecessarily. All of these disproportionately harm African Americans, and are the result of an inadequate public defense system. Today, the Brennan Center filed an amicus brief with the Michigan Supreme Court, siding with defendants of a stalled class-action lawsuit. The suit claims the State regularly denies poor defendants their right to counsel—and even when defendants do get representation, their attorneys lack adequate training, supervision, and resources. The brief argues that these practices violate criminal defendants’ right to counsel, and that reviewing criminal convictions after-the-fact cannot fully remedy the harms caused by ineffective representation.