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At a Glance (as of 2013)

Percentage of state funding: 8% (in transition)
Percentage of local funding: 92%
Percentage of alternative funding: 0%
State commission: yes (2) – one for trial level & one for appellate level
Branch of government: executive (trial level services); judicial (appellate services)


Structure & Funding of Indigent Defense Services

The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) is a 15-member commission in the executive branch appointed by diverse authorities with the power to develop and oversee the implementation of binding performance standards for trial-level right to counsel services in each of the state’s 83 counties. The governor appoints the members of MIDC based on recommendations submitted by: the Senate Majority leader (2 appointees); Speaker of the House of Representatives (2); Chief Justice (1); Criminal Defense Attorney Association of Michigan (3); Michigan Judges Association (1); Michigan District Judges Association (1); State Bar of Michigan (1); bar association advocating for minority interests (1); and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Association of Michigan (1). Additionally, the governor appoints a member to represent local units of government (1); and another member to represent the general public (1). The supreme court chief justice serves as an ex officio member of the MIDC without vote.

While each county determines the delivery methods it will use to provide direct services (public defender office, contracts, or assigned counsel panel), the county must submit a plan for compliance with MIDC’s standards, and MIDC has authority to investigate, audit and review the operation of local county right to counsel services to assure compliance. Counties must contribute a set amount of money each year (based on pre-MIDC spending levels), and all additional funding necessary to meet standards comes from the state.


Appellate representation is provided under the purview of the state’s Appellate Defender Commission, a seven-member commission of the judicial branch that oversees the State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) and the Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System (MAACS). The commission is appointed by diverse authorities: Supreme Court (2), Court of Appeals (1), Michigan Judges Association (1), State Bar of Michigan (2), one attorney appointed by the Governor. Both SADO and MAACS are entirely state-funded. Per statute, SADO only handles one of every four appellate cases; MAACS handles the remaining 75% of appeals cases. As its name suggests, MAACS is a coordinated roster of private attorneys appointed to individual cases who are paid an hourly fee for their services. SADO, meanwhile, is a traditional public defender office with full time attorneys and support staff.

Statutory Authority

For MIDC, see MCLS § 780.981 through 780.1003 

For ADC, see MCLS § 780.711 through 780.719

Source of data: original research conducted by Sixth Amendment Center staff, augmented by statistics collected by the Michigan State Appellate Defender Office.