Michigan Indigent Defense Commission - June 2023 Update

From the June 2023 Criminal Defense Newsletter
Ten years ago, the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) was created by the Legislature to improve the State’s criminal legal system.  Prior to the Commission’s work, the constitutional right to counsel had been severely underfunded and under-resourced for decades, subjecting Michigan’s most vulnerable citizens to immeasurable losses without meaningful access to justice when charged with a crime.

The MIDC has since implemented standards requiring continuing legal education, early meetings between attorneys and clients, access to counsel at every appearance before a magistrate or judge, independence from the judiciary, resources for experts and investigators, consistent screening of eligibility for counsel, and – most recently – adequate compensation for lawyers providing public defense services. the coming years, the MIDC will work on caseloads, qualifications, and review of counsel.

Every trial court system in Michigan is required to comply with the minimum standards established by the Commission, and the state pays to ensure compliance by distributing hundreds of millions of dollars to local funding units through annual grant applications approved by the MIDC.  Beginning in 2024, nearly every court system in Michigan will move to hourly pay for lawyers1 – shedding historically problematic flat-rate, event-based pay schemes that disincentivized the highest quality representation our citizens deserve.  The chart details the rates of pay and delivery model for all trial courts statewide.

With these standards and funding in place, Michigan has become a national leader in public defense reform.  Read more about our work on our website, www.michiganidc.gov.

Marla McCowan
Deputy Director and Training Director
Michigan Indigent Defense Commission


1. MIDC hourly rates for FY24:
$118.21 misdemeanors
$130.03 felonies
$141.82 life offenses
   Attorney general scale (hourly)
$30.99 15-level min 10-1-23
$47.55 16-level min 10-1-23

Editor’s note: Statistics and surveys from prior years are here.