Attorney Calls For Better Pay For Court Appointed Attorneys - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Attorney Calls For Better Pay For Court Appointed Attorneys

By a two-to-one ruling, Michigan's Court of Appeals says a lawsuit by the ACLU can move forward.

The suit calls for "better pay" for court appointed lawyers.

Recent studies have found the system to be in-adequate and not fair to those who can't afford an attorney

The original lawsuit was filed six years ago, but as our Nick Perreault found-out, some say it's been a problem much longer than that

You're innocent until proven guilty and you have a right to a fair trial, but Attorney Tim Havis says, the court system has been anything but fair.

"If you're court appointed you have to go back to the court repeatedly to ask for additional witnesses, ask for money to actually have an expert witness, ask for money for forensic analysis and stuff like that," said Attorney Tim Havis.

Havis, a court appointed attorney has actually had to turn down cases over his 12 year career, not because he didn't want to represent the clients, but because he couldn't afford to properly support them.

"In the court appointed system, the funding just isn't there for me to at least make it realistic, that I can actually do the work, that I think I should be able to do when I represent someone," Havis said.

Havis says in some cases that results in clients getting in-experienced representation in the courtroom.

Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III even admits the current system has it's flaws.

"The prosecutor's association has long been under the belief that we need a reform to the public defenders system, but the problem is what should that reform look like," said Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III.

Both Dunnings and Havis think state legislation is needed to make a change.Havis says he'd like to see a state wide fund set up that he says would level the playing field

"So that if your in Montcalm county as a court appointed system, you can be assured that your court appointed attorney up there is being paid on equal or the same as here in Livingston County or wherever," Havis said.

He's unsure if or when that would happen, but says if the system doesn't change soon, it could be put attorney's across the state in a tough spot.

"If as an attorney, I feel what I'm getting paid is not enough, then I have to make an ethical decision not to take clients and I think that would be a sad thing to have happen, not just to me but to other attorney's out there">

Governor Snyder created the Indigent Defense Advisory Commission two years ago to review the current system.

The commission has recommended that the state create a permanent defense group.

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