Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $392,454)
The State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) and Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System (MAACS) will implement a Juvenile Appellate Defense Project to establish and oversee a private assigned counsel roster under the direction of a Project Director and Advisory Board. The Project will operate within the MAACS infrastructure and apply lessons learned during recent reform efforts. Using a three-pronged approach that emphasizes Access, Independence, and Quality, the project will improve the entire juvenile defense system. Under the Access prong, the project will improve court rules, forms, and processes to ensure that youth are informed of appellate rights and given meaningful opportunities to exercise them. The project will educate the bench and bar about appellate rights and the importance of representation, and conduct targeted outreach to youth—particularly those in detention—to answer questions and facilitate appointments. Under the Independence prong, the project will develop a process to select and appoint counsel free from influence by the judiciary or prosecution. Attorneys will be required to meet appropriate qualification and training standards, and the project will ensure the availability of adequate resources, including reasonable attorney fees and independent access to investigators, experts, and litigation support. Under the Quality prong, the project will develop and enforce performance standards for juvenile defense counsel. Quality training programs and publications will be developed focusing on vigorous and holistic representation in trial and appellate courts, and the project will measure representation metrics and outcomes in all assigned juvenile appeals.