Lawsuit over criminal defense system proceeds

LANSING (AP) -- The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that a long-running lawsuit can continue that challenges the system of appointing lawyers for criminal defendants who can't afford them.

In a 2-1 decision released Wednesday, the court says a lower judge was OK to reject the state's contention that the case shouldn't be granted class-action status.

The suit says the rights of poor people have been violated because of the paltry pay for court-appointed lawyers.

One appeals judge says the suit has had a "tortured history" in the state Supreme Court. It was filed more than six years ago, yet no judge has ruled on the underlying case.

The American Civil Liberties Union says it's hopeful it will get a chance to prove the indigent system is broken and must be fixed.

Published: Fri, Apr 5, 2013