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Creating Juvenile Defense Standards

The Juvenile Justice Task Force Recommendations found Michigan has no centralized structure and minimal standards, supports, or resources for juvenile public defense statewide. The absence of statewide funding has led to uneven access for youth to trained and qualified defenders. Local systems appoint counsel at different stages, which can negatively affect the outcome of a youth’s case. Research has consistently shown that their constitutional rights may not be sufficiently protected without adequate defense.

In 2023, the Justice for Kids and Communities legislative package was developed due to the Task Force’s recommendations and assessment of Michigan’s juvenile justice system. House Bill 4630 was a key component of this package, but did not advance out of the Michigan State Senate.

House Bill 4630:

Sponsors: Rep. Lightner (R-45) 

Requires alignment of current and the development of new standards with specific considerations for the representation of youth in the juvenile justice system. This includes requirements for specialized training for youth counsel. This legislation also adds a member with youth expertise to the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission.


Amends titles & secs. 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 21, & 23 of 2013 PA 93 (MCL 780.983 et seq.).

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