The Eleven Principles Of Public Defense

After my recent blog post about Michigan’s public defense system, I was contacted by the Michigan Campaign for Justice.  They are spear-heading the crusade for reform in the system here.

One of the interesting aspects that we discussed revolved around the “Eleven Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System.”  These principles were adopted by the American Bar Association and the State Bar of Michigan in 2002.  They embody the goals that every Public Defense System should seek to achieve.

The Principles are:

  1. Independence
  2. State Funding and Structural Integrity
  3. Eligibility and Early Appointment
  4. Confidentiality
  5. Availability
  6. Competency
  7. Consistency
  8. Resources
  9. Training
  10. Quality
  11. Advocacy

Sadly, Michigan’s Report Card on these topics is not a good one.  A team of national experts reviewed Michigan’s Public Defense System and graded us.  Using the standard grade-school grading system, Michigan has 5 F’s, 5 D’s, and only one C.  The “C” is in consistency.  Well, at least we’re consistent.

Over the next eleven weeks, I am going to look at each of the principles.  I’ll talk about the goal that the principle embodies, how our current system works, and then talk about how the system needs to change to get our state a passing grade.

Feel free to share your stories and how you would rate your experience with the Public Defense System!

If you are seeking legal representation contact Ambrose Law Group at 248-624-5500 or visit our website at


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