All data is current as of 2013, unless otherwise noted.
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How the right to counsel is administered and structured

State commission: yes (2) – one for trial level & one for appellate level
Branch of government: executive (trial level services); judicial (appellate services)

The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) is a 15-member commission in the executive branch. 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. MIDC has 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 Appellate Defender Commission is 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 members are appointed by diverse authorities: Supreme Court (2), Court of Appeals (1), Michigan Judges Association (1), State Bar of Michigan (2), and one attorney appointed by the Governor.


How the right to counsel is funded

Percentage of state funding: 8% (in transition)
Percentage of local funding: 92%
Percentage of alternative funding: 0%

Counties must contribute a set amount of money each year that is based on the amount they spent prior to the creation of the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission. All additional funding necessary to meet standards comes from the state.

For appeals, both the State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) and the Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System (MAACS) are entirely state-funded.

The methods used to provide public counsel

While each county determines the delivery methods it will use to provide trial-level services (public defender office, contracts, or assigned counsel panel), the county must submit a plan for compliance with the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission’s (MIDC) standards, and MIDC has authority to investigate, audit, and review the operation of local county right to counsel services to assure compliance.


The State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) is a traditional public defender office with full-time attorneys and support staff. By statute, SADO only handles one of every four appellate cases. The Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System (MAACS) is a coordinated roster of private attorneys appointed to individual cases who are paid an hourly fee for their services. MAACS handles the remaining 75% of appeals cases.

Legal authority

Michigan Constitution, art. I, § 20

Michigan Compiled Laws, §§ 780.711 through 780.719 (appellate defender act), and §§ 780.981 through 780.1003 (indigent defense commission act)

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