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Kim Thomas
Michigan Law Prof. Kimberly Thomas Appointed to State's New Indigent Defense Commission

June 20, 2014

Clinical Professor of Law and Juvenile Justice Clinic​ cofounder Kimberly Thomas has been appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to serve a two-year term on the state's newly created Indigent Defense Commission.

Michigan Law alumni Frank Eaman, '71, Brandy Robinson, '03, and Gary Walker, '71, were also appointed to the commission. Like Thomas, Eaman and Robinson will serve two-year terms, while Walker will serve a four-year term initially.

Consisting of a 15-member board, the commission was established in July 2013 in an effort to improve legal representation for low-income criminal defendants in Michigan. The first appointees were announced June 19.

"I am honored to be part of this team that will ensure that all indigent citizens have access to well-trained and supported criminal defense counsel," Thomas said. "The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission's work will help improve the fairness and accuracy of our state's criminal justice system."

The commission has been tasked with collecting and compiling data for the review of indigent defense services in Michigan, creating standards to ensure all systems providing indigent defense meet constitutional obligations for effective assistance of counsel, and developing requirements by which a person may establish a claim of indigence so those truly in need of a public defender will have one.

“A key principle of the judicial system is that every citizen has a right to competent legal counsel,” Snyder said in a press release. “I am confident these appointees will serve our state well as they work toward the next steps in ensuring all Michiganders have the judicial representation they deserve.”

After the initial one-, two-, and three-year terms, board members will serve four-year terms. Their appointments are not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.

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