The Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System (MAACS) administers the system for appointing criminal appellate counsel in all Michigan circuit courts, from a roster of private attorneys and the State Appellate Defender Office (SADO). Approximately 75% of indigent felony appeals are assigned to the MAACS roster, while approximately 25% of cases are assigned to SADO.
In Administrative Order 2014-18, the Michigan Supreme Court consolidated MAACS with SADO for management purposes.
MAACS is subject to the oversight of the Appellate Defender Commission.
200 N. Washington Sq., Suite 250
Lansing, MI 48933.
Dawn Van Hoek, Appellate Defender
Bradley R. Hall, MAACS Administrator
Kathy Swedlow, MAACS Deputy Administrator
MariaRosa J. Palmer, Office Manager
Mary Lou Emelander, Roster Coordinator
Jane Doyle, Assignment Coordinator
History and Overview
Indigent Michigan felony defendants who submit requests within certain time limits and in certain circumstances are entitled to have publicly funded counsel appointed to represent them on appeal. The overall system for providing indigent appellate felony defense is governed by the seven-member Appellate Defender Commission pursuant to MCL 780.711 et seq. The system has two components. About 25% of the indigents' appeals are handled by the State Appellate Defender Office (SADO), the state-funded appellate level public defender office established in 1969; the other 75% are handled by private attorneys who are appointed and paid by the Circuit Courts/Counties.
MAACS began to administer the appellate assignment process and maintain the roster for attorneys eligible for assignments in 1985. MAACS is charged with ensuring that cases are assigned by appropriate methods to qualified lawyers, that these lawyers receive appropriate training and resource materials, and that they comply with minimum performance standards when representing assigned appellate clients. It is also directed "to engage in activities designed to enhance the capacity of the private bar to render effective assistance of appellate counsel to indigent defendants." MAACS Reg. 1(1).
In Administrative Order 1981-7, the Supreme Court approved the regulations, developed by the Commission, that govern which private attorneys are eligible to receive appellate assignments and how counsel is to be selected for each individual case. The Supreme Court also approved 20 minimum performance standards - the Minimum Standards for Indigent Criminal Appellate Defense Services - with which all assigned appellate attorneys, including SADO, must comply. Those standards have been in effect since February 1, 1982. In 2004, the Supreme Court adopted seven Revised Minimum Standards, in Administrative Order 2000-32, which combined some former Standards with one another, and slightly revised others. These minimum performance standards became effective on January 1, 2005.