This division works with various partners within the Criminal Justice System to develop judicial programs such as “Specialty Courts” and other specific programs that support the needs of indigent population.
Community Criminal Justice Series
The Public Defender’s office has become a full and equal partner in the public safety and justice system within the county and is represented in all relevant programming, policy, or procedural committees. It handles all criminal, juvenile and special civil law appointments and provides a wide array of services related to: Bond reduction hearings, Diversions, Extraditions, Friend of the Court matters, Line-ups, Personal protection orders, Probation violations and Response to legal questions. The Public Defender’s office will partner with the Racial Equity office in a community criminal justice series. This outreach and education initiative will provide information on the structure of criminal justice system, and the services, and resources available to individuals accused of a crime, who are unable to hire an attorney for financial reasons, and how the system work together to ensure that equitable and fair justice is served in our community for all.
The format of the Criminal Justice Series is designed to impact the community through public service announcements (PSA), handouts, and a minimum of seven (7) in person public presentations followed by a panel and brief Q&A. Information will be presented as follows:
Public Service Announcement (PSA) - Short clips (30-60) seconds long designed to educate the audience about the topic or generate awareness or create shift in behavior or opinion.
- A video message from the Washtenaw County Chief Public Defender to include Introductions and Programs, services, and connected resources.
- A video message – What your Public Defender wants you to know – Part #1 to include the
role of the public defender, confidentiality and communicating with family or others, and Highlighting the Criminal Justice System and process is not as it seems in the movies on television.
- A video message – What your Public Defender wants you to know – Part #2 to include, understanding the time and patience needed to go through each step, Outlining the steps in the criminal process from start to finish.
PowerPoint - Slides to educate the audience on the criminal justice system from the lens of the PD office. The presentation will be in person, recorded and made available to community organizations to reference and or use later. Information will include:
- Community Criminal Justice Series - Purpose, and Goal, PD with REO Project
- Overview of PD departmental structure; Mission, Vision, and Goal, Representation Standards, Brief History, and Case Stats for 2022
- Overview of Legal and Non- Legal Divisions; Legal Division Overview, Explaining Case types and attorney work; Felony, Misdemeanor, Arraignments, Juvenile Delinquency and Child Protection Court. Non- Legal Divisions, overview of services and projects of Special Projects & Systems Outreach, Managed Assigned Counsel, Social Work, Investigations, and Business Operations.
- What’s New in the Public Defender’s Office; Community Impressions, Website updates, answering Frequently Asked Questions and contact information.
Handouts / Links on website - Informational material that highlights specific topics, programs, services, or contacts to resources.
- What are Maranda Rights and Understanding the wording used in the Miranda Warning?
- Who’s Who in the Criminal Justice Flowchart
- Bench Warrant – what should you do should you get one?
General Public, and individuals who are currently, likely to be involved, or connect to someone in the Criminal Justice System.
Mid- January 2024 – December 2024
For more information on this project please email Latitia Sharp at [email protected]
First Impressions for Justice Project
The Washtenaw County Public Defender’s Office is committed to evolving with the needs of its clients, community, and the County. Our non-legal divisions are excited about a new “First Impressions for Justice” project that aligns with the goals and community outreach of the Racial Equity Office. We believe it is important to dress appropriately for court. It is a show of respect for the legal system and makes a good impression on the judge and jury. However, our clients are indigent and oftentimes, they do not have the appropriate attire to attend court. Consequently, this may adversely impact how the judge and jury perceive them or their case. Providing this type of service to indigent clients will help to remove negative barriers and allow these individuals to feel confident about their court appearances. This can also extend to those clients seeking a job, attending school, and other important occasions.
The Public Defender’s First Impressions for Justice project will provide clothing to indigent clients for court appearances. Clients can request support through their assigned attorney during business hours and the project will provide clothing items at no cost to the clients. “Dress for Justice” will support the female clients and “Clothes for Justice” will support male clients. The First Impressions for Justice program will also support clients with ancillary services such a haircut (barber services only) and the provision of bus tokens or alternative transportation assistance for court appearances in person (e.g., Uber, Lyft, or shared rides).
The five major components of the program are:
- Purchase of new and/or gently used clothing with inclusive sizing (e.g., suits, dresses, pants, skirts, blouses/shirts, etc.).
- Dry cleaning of gently used clothing.
- Purchase of new undergarments.
- Hair Cuts (barber services only).
- Bus tokens, Uber, Lyft, or shared rides to assist with transportation to court.
- Washtenaw County Public Defender clients;
- Indigent clients who meet financial eligibility criteria for Public Defender assistance;
- Indigent clients who do NOT meet eligibility requirements to receive support from Legal
- Services; and
- Indigent people within the Criminal Justice System including those with past involvement, current involvement or are at risk of being involved.
November 2023 – December 2024
For more information on this project please email Traci Brown at [email protected]
Public Defender’s Expungement Project
The Public Defender’s Office (PD) is committed to evolving with the needs of its clients, community, and the County. We believe that providing expungement services to indigent clients, will help to remove barriers and allow them to take advantage of job, school, and other opportunities that may be unavailable because of arrest and charges showing up in a criminal background check.
The Public Defender’s Expungement Project will provide record clearance (expungement) payments on behalf of clients who have misdemeanor or felony convictions on their record. Payment assistance will be available for individuals provided that financial eligibility criteria for Public Defender assistance are met. Amended to include – people that are currently represented by Legal Services, who were former PD clients, or at risk of being PD clients. Legal Services has a stricter policy, so we are confident that these clients are of the indigent population.
The three major components of the program are:
- Eligibility - Run liens to establish case eligibility of PD Clients
- Payment of Fees - Pay fees associated with filing the Motion.
- Court Action - Request expungement order to remove the criminal record, file motions to set aside convictions and appear at all motion hearings.
Currently, PD cases come from Legal Services referrals. Clients that have income above Legal Services criteria are referred to our office for assistance. The Public Defenders office does not do any independent intake for expungement client.
October 2023 – December 2024
For more information on this project please email Colina Anderson at [email protected]