Michigan House OKs overhaul of legal representation for low-income defendants
Michigan House overwhelmingly OKs overhaul of state's much-maligned indigent defense system
The Michigan House has approved a bill to create a new system to oversee the delivery of legal representation to low-income defendants.
The measure approved Thursday on a 71-36 vote would implement recommendations of Gov. Rick Snyder's commission on indigent defense.
The bill now goes to the state Senate.
Michigan's decentralized approach to the appointment of lawyers for people who can't afford them has drawn wide criticism because of its unevenness and inadequacy.
House Bill 5804 would create a 14-member Michigan Indigent Defense Commission to oversee the appointment and monitor the performance of lawyers who represent low-income defendants.
Michigan Campaign for Justice director Marcela Westrate says the vote "is a major step forward" in reforming a system that has sent people to prison for years for crimes they didn't commit.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.