×

Macomb County takes steps to create public defender office

MOUNT CLEMENS (AP) — Michigan’s third-largest county has taken steps to create a public defender office, which county officials hope will address concerns with representing those who can’t afford attorneys.

Macomb County posted an administrator job for the office, which drew 51 applicants, according to The Detroit News.

Interviews were scheduled to begin next month and county officials hoped to fill the position in March. The size of the office was yet to be determined.

Currently, public defenders are assigned through a case manage committee. Attorneys are selected by rotation based on their eligibility and case complexity.

“I’ve always looked at it as kind of an unfair fight. You’ve got to protect people’s rights, no matter who they are,” said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. “Even if they are a bad guy, we still have to protect their rights along the process, to ensure that we’re not putting the wrong person in jail.”

The change comes as Michigan has been under criticism for the issue.

A 2008 study of 10 counties by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association said Michigan failed “to provide competent representation to those who cannot afford counsel in its criminal courts.”