Michigan should fulfill it's obligation to provide adequate legal services to the poor.
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The state of Michigan continues to deny poor defendants its constitutional obligation to provide appropriate legal defense services for those who cannot afford private counsel, also known as Legal Aid of Michigan. This is still occurring almost ten years after the Michigan settled with the ACLU to set up the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission. Which was created by legislation in 2013 after an advisory commission recommended improvements to the state’s legal system. The MIDC websites states that it " will work to ensure the state’s public defense system is fair, cost-effective and constitutional while simultaneously protecting public safety and accountability". This simply is not occurring. Michigan counties are still violating the constitutional rights of poor defendants. County prosecutors and legal aid attorneys are encouraging plea bargains instead of a vigorous defense for defendants. This is prevalent in Berrien County, Michigan. Innocent defendants are being forced and threatened into taking "involuntary pleas" as it benefits the court system. For example; a inmate in the Berrien County jail who was to have a jury trial the week of May 5, 2017 was told that "he would not be allowed any witnesses or evidence" by his Pro Bono attorney. He concluded in saying "you should not talk to your family and if you don't take the plea your are going to spend the rest of your life in prison". Thus occurring after the Pro Bono attorney had been given a significant amount of evidence that could prove the inmates innocence, that included the names of several witnesses. Including a supervisor from the Department of Child Services. The inmate who had never committed a crime in his life, including a traffic ticket took the plea under the threat and is awaiting sentencing June 12, 2017. This practice is unfair and immoral. The poor has a constitutional right to have a vigorous defense just as much as the rich man. As a free society with a Constitutional right to fair trial are asking that an end this practice be stopped immediately, Involuntary pleas are fair to poor of Michigan.
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