County to file appeal to get indigent defense right

Oakland County will appeal a ruling by the Michigan Court of Claims that granted the defendant’s motion for summary disposition and denied the county’s motion for summary disposition in its lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of both the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) Act and the MIDC’s approved standards. In its appeal, the county will contend that the Court of Claims erred in its interpretation of the MIDC Act and the Michigan Constitution.

“We knew when we filed this lawsuit that challenging Lansing’s constitutional overreach meant that we would have to take the fight to higher courts,” said Keith Lerminiaux, Oakland County corporation counsel. “The issues at stake are so vital to our constitutional system of checks and balances on government power that Oakland County has no choice but to appeal the Court of Claims ruling.”

Oakland County filed its original complaint against the State of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), and the MIDC in the Michigan Court of Claims last July. The complaint also alleged that the MIDC created its rules and procedures in violation of Michigan’s Administrative Procedures Act.

“We agree that individuals charged with a crime in Michigan have a constitutional right to legal representation even if they cannot afford a lawyer. There are egregious errors, however, in the MIDC Act and standards established by the MIDC and LARA that higher courts must address,” Lerminiaux said.

Oakland County expects to file its appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals before Thanksgiving.