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State rule would guarantee public defenders at least $100 an hour

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A new state rule would set minimum rates for attorneys who represent indigent defendants. It complies with recommendations made by the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission.

Public defenders would make a minimum of 100 dollars an hour under the rules approved by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The rate will go as high as 120 dollars an hour depending on the seriousness of the charges. Also, costs for experts and investigators would be reimbursed.

This is an important step, said Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack.

“So a very fundamental constitutional guarantee is at stake and that means the rule of law is at stake," McCormack said.

The new rule also sets training requirements. Local indigent defense offices have 180 days to submit preliminary plans to comply with the rule.

Rick Pluta is the Capitol Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He is heard daily on WCMU's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.