Continuing Legal Education
How many CLE hours are required?
In brief, pursuant to MIDC Standard 1, all attorneys providing indigent defense services are required to complete 12 credit hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) per calendar year. In a change from years past, we are now requiring some additional CLE hours. Included in, or in addition to those 12 credit hours, must be 1 hour relating to forensics (e.g. DNA, blood spatter, SANE exams, fingerprinting, ballistics, etc.), 1 hour relating to technology (e.g. cell phone evidence, cybersecurity, effective use of technology in trial, etc., and 1 hour relating to DEI or ethics. This requirement does not start until January 2024.
What is the basic skills acquisition class?
A "basic skills acquisition" course should be a two day-long (or more) program involving an interactive approach to learning. Typically, these programs involve 16-24 hours of hands-on skills training. The courses do not have to be taken on consecutive days. Hypothetically, an attorney may attend CDAM's Evidence Boot Camp I on one day in April, then Evidence Boot Camp II in June of the same year. This would satisfy the skills training requirement for the year. Note: time spent in skills training counts towards, and can satisfy, the annual CLE requirement.
Where can I take CLE courses?
Kent County has partnered with the Grand Rapids Bar Association to offer free CLE courses to our attorneys representing indigent clients. The GRBA calendar (linked above) allows you to search for MIDC compliant CLE seminars, many of which are offered monthly. The indigent defense administration office sends out CLE opportunities to the attorneys on a regular basis via email. CLE courses are also available through Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan (CDAM) - you can access their training calendar here - and there are many options to watch recorded webinars that will also earn you CLE credit. If you need more ideas of where to complete CLE courses, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We will reimburse up to $50 per credit hour.
I want to take more than the minimum required number of hours. Does the MIDC
pay for extra CLE?
No – we will only pay for up to 12 (or 15, in special circumstances) credit hours. Of course, while we encourage all attorneys to take as many CLE courses as their hearts desire, we will only pay for the amount of hours set forth in your contract.
I want to take a CLE course offered out of state/not by the GRBA. Do you pay
Yes. We will reimburse $50 per credit hour, up to a maximum of 12 credit hours (i.e., the max we will reimburse is $750).
Do you pay for travel, meals, etc. for CLE's?
Yes, in specific circumstances. Travel, meals, parking, etc. are all reimbursable at Kent County Rates. Contact email@example.com to find out if your specific cost is reimbursable.
How do I prove that I went to trainings or watched webinars?
All attorneys on the criminal list will be required to utilize CE Broker to post credits for required training. It is acceptable to complete the 3 specific CLE courses within your 12-hour allotment, but if an attorney is unable to do so, then any of the additional required credit hours in the specified areas must be completed separately. CE BROKER IS FREE FOR APPOINTED ATTORNEYS AND PUBLIC DEFENDERS! If it asks you for a credit card, ignore that! You should also always email your attendance form to LARA-MIDCfirstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. The form for certifying attendance at a training event/webinar can be found here.
Why do I need to use an expert? I've never used one before.
MIDC Standard 3 requires all indigent defense counsel conduct thorough and independent examinations of a client's case. Just because a client intends to plea does not mean that defense counsel need not consider whether an expert might be reasonably necessary for a defense or mitigation.
I need to hire an expert for my case. How does the indigent defense program
All requests for experts should be made through this form, which details exactly what information is needed. The indigent defense administrator will review the request and respond within 3 business days.
How does my expert get paid?
The MIDC expert witness rates vary from $100 an hour to over $300 an hour, depending on the credentials of the expert being used. Once you receive approval to use a specific expert at a specific rate, you can choose to pay the expert yourself and then seek reimbursement by the county, or the indigent defense program can pay the expert directly for you. Questions regarding how to pay for the expert's services should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you paid the service provider directly, a copy of the invoice needs to be attached to the Request for Invoice Payment / Reimbursement form, which is also available on the home page of the Indigent Defense website. We want to be sure that you are satisfied with the services rendered and that they met the expectations of your original request.
Where do I find an investigator?
The Kent County Office of the Defender (KCOD) has multiple full-time investigators on staff. These investigators can be utilized for all attorneys accepting appointed cases, not just the attorneys within the defender's office. If you need an investigator, send your specific request to KCOD's director at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I can't use the KCOD investigator due to a conflict. Will you pay for a
Yes. We will pay for an external, independent investigator where a conflict exists with KCOD's team. Contact email@example.com to obtain names for other excellent, local investigators.
What should I be using investigators for?
Investigators can be used for a variety of case purposes, including but not limited to, interviewing witnesses, finding new witnesses, taking photographs or video of crime scenes, and service of subpoenas. For more ideas about how to use investigators creatively and effectively in your cases, reach out to the Kent County Office of the Defender.
Do I really have to talk to an investigator on my capital case?
Yes. You do. You should reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon after appointment as possible, and email a copy of the police report/any discovery you’ve initially received. This, of course, assumes there is no conflict of interest due to a co-defendant or witness situation. If KCOD's investigative team cannot be used, contact email@example.com ASAP so that you can be connected with an investigator to consult with. You are not required to use an investigator throughout your entire case; the contractual requirement is simply that you must consult with an investigator. The idea is to find out if there are any investigative angles the could be helpful to pursue.
I want to present a more complete picture of my client's ____ (e.g.
trauma, addiction, history of abuse/neglect, cognitive delays, mental illnesses, etc.) for sentencing. Will
MIDC pay for a mitigation specialist?
The Kent County Office of the Defender (KCOD) has several full-time social workers on staff that can be used to help develop a more compelling story for your client's case. Contact their office to see how their social workers can help you at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com Similar to investigators, these resources are available to any attorney representing an indigent client in a court in Kent County.
What are my responsibilities related to mitigation on a capital case?
On every case where the maximum penalty is life, attorneys are required to consult with a mitigation specialist AND investigator. When you’re appointed to a capital case, we will also send a copy of a capital consultation intake form from the Kent County Office of the Defender. This should be returned to firstname.lastname@example.org, ideally within 2 days of completing the initial 3-business day client interview. If there is a conflict with KCOD, you must contact the indigent defense office as early as possible so that we can connect you with other options for mitigation specialists. We have existing relationships with external mitigation specialists (and investigators) that can be used in the event of conflicts. This requirement is simply for a consultation – it does not impose a requirement for an ongoing mitigation work. It is only intended to encourage a thorough and complete analysis of all capital cases. The manner in which a capital case continues post-consultation is solidly within the discretion of the assigned attorney. After a consultation, attorneys may decide that an investigator and/or mitigation specialist is not necessary for a given case, or they may seek to continue with those services.
I was appointed to a case, but I have a conflict. What do I do?
Immediately notify the Indigent Defense office. If you noticed the conflict before appearing on the record, you can notify the Indigent Defense office, and we can handle the withdrawal and new appointment.
If, however, you notice the conflict after you've appeared on the record, you must file a Motion to Withdraw as usual, but if you withdraw from an appointed case, you must ensure that the Indigent Defense office is aware so that case counts and payments are accurate.
I'm filing a _____ motion, but I need the _____ testimony from the
preliminary exam to prepare it. How do I request that on an appointed case?
Fill out this form. Keep in mind that transcript requests must be submitted no more than two (2) weeks before the hearing/deadline for which they're needed. Untimely requests will be considered on a case by case basis.
My client has been sentenced, but s/he wants me to file a Motion to Withdraw
Plea. Is that considered part of my responsibilities under the indigent defense contract?
Yes. Your representation concludes when the time period for filing an appeal has expired. See MCR 7.204(A)(2) and MCR 7.205(A)(2). If your client is requesting a post-judgment motion that is NOT an appeal, that remains within your responsibility as trial counsel (e.g., motion for new trial, etc.)
If your client wants to seek an appeal, it is your responsibility to ensure that the proper SCAO form is timely filed so that appellate counsel can be appointed.
My felony client picked up new misdemeanor charges in the 63rd District
Court. Do I have to represent him/her?
Yes. Absent special circumstances, if a current felony client with an open case picks up new misdemeanor charges out of the 63rd District Court, you should plan on being appointed to that misdemeanor, regardless of whether you applied for a misdemeanor contract. You will be paid in accordance with Exhibit B, paragraph 1 of your felony contract.
My client wants to appeal his case. What am I required to do with regard to an appeal?
We do not assign appellate attorneys except for the rare situation where there is a district court to circuit court appeal. To appeal a circuit court case, the application for appellate counsel has to be filled out and filed with the 17th circuit court OR sent to MAACS within 42 days of sentencing! If your client asks to appeal their case, you must aid them in filling out the application for appellate counsel. Keep a copy for yourself. If you’re going to submit the form to MAACS yourself, you can mail it to: Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System, 200 N. Washington Square, Suite 250, Lansing, MI 48913. You are not required to do any other appellate filings beyond the application for appellate counsel. We can, however, assist appellate attorneys with obtaining experts for their appeals pending in Kent County.
What is this new reconciliation spreadsheet? What kind of information is required?
All attorneys accepting indigent appointments have to fill out and submit the spreadsheet on a monthly basis. It is due by the 10th of each month, and should contain data that reflects ALL cases from the months prior. Once a case is appointed, it should appear on each month’s submission (each month has a separate tab) until the case is closed, in which case it can stop being reported on each month’s tab. You can put as much or as little information as is required by each category. For the “Status” column, we are expecting to see what the next hearing date is, or the result most recently obtained. The first tab of the spreadsheet is a great example of the type of information required.
I have been appointed to a homicide/CSC/or other case that has turned out to be complex. Can I bring on a second chair to help me with the case?
We can appoint second chairs to assist with cases that are in a final trial posture. That means that the case is set for trial, there are no further pre-trial motions to be litigated, and the last plea offer was rejected (all appeals are back from the COA/MSC; you’ve litigated your motions in limine, etc). We do not pay for second chairs for the pendency of an entire case. Second chair attorneys will be compensated at the same rate as the primary assigned attorney, but ONLY after a formal request has been submitted via email to our office. If you are a solo practitioner and are seeking a second chair for trial, please reach out, as we can help you find an attorney interested in being co-counsel for trial. It can be very helpful to have another set of eyes on the case – especially during jury selection, or to help cross witnesses. The second chair DOES NOT have to be homicide/capital qualified, so this is an excellent opportunity for younger or newer attorneys to obtain trial experience.
I was just grieved by a retained client. Do I have to notify the Indigent Defense Admin office?
Yes. All attorneys must notify the County within 3 business days of receiving notice of a grievance or other disciplinary action. Attorneys also have to let the County know when the issue is resolved or closed, and what, if any, sanctions were imposed. This is a new contractual requirement for 2023-2024.
I need a new webcam for remotely visiting jail clients. Can I get reimbursed
No. Technology devices, software; license fees, memberships and dues; automobile and other travel expenses; meals and entertainment; insurance premiums; telephone; internet connection and data usage fees; all salary/payroll expenses, and other compensation paid to employees are all the responsibility of the attorney.
The only exception are those expenses requested and approved in advance by the Indigent Defense Administrator.
Where do I submit invoices for services or experts?
All invoices should be emailed directly to the Kent County Finance Department at email@example.com with a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org. In order to help ensure prompt payment, invoices should reference "Indigent Defense" somewhere in the heading, along with the defendant's name and case number. If the invoice is a request for reimbursement, the email must include receipts supporting the claimed expense. Regardless of the method of payment, all attorneys (or an authorized staff member) must submit a certification that the services received were in line with their expectations and that the billing is appropriate. If an attorney already paid the service provider, a copy of the invoice needs to be attached to the Request for Invoice Payment / Reimbursement form, which is also available on the home page of the Indigent Defense website.
What are the hourly rates for my cases?
In direct response to Standard 8, Kent County has transitioned from old flat fee payment scheme of a set fee per felony case to an hourly billing scheme. You must track your time in quarter-hour increments and bill accordingly on the portal link provided by the indigent defense team. The rate categories are (1) Misdemeanors, PPO violation hearings, and show cause hearings; (2) Non-capital felonies, high crime misdemeanors, and probation violations; and (3) Capital felonies, homicides, and investigative subpoenas. The exact rates are in Exhibit B, paragraph 1 of your contract. There is no cap to the amount of hours you can bill.
How often am I supposed to bill for the work I’ve done?
At least once a month (if you’ve done work on that case – don’t bother doing 0 hour invoices), but no more than once per week. Please – do not bill on a daily basis for every single case. We are a small team, with limited time and resources. You can consolidate multiple days of work onto one invoice.
Can I save an invoice and come back to finish it later? … and other invoice related questions
- You may not start an invoice, save it, and then return to it later. You have to enter all the data for the period and submit it in one session.
- Do not submit zero-sum invoices. Only submit invoices on clients/cases for which you have spent time and have hours (or fractions thereof) to record.
- Each invoice is for one client / one case. If you have a client with multiple cases, those must be entered on a new invoice. There are rare situations where a defendant has many multiple cases pending at one time – in those instances, please coordinate with our office as to how we can consolidate your invoices more efficiently.
- Each invoice must have all information entered in all of the available fields.
- If you are completing an invoice for a brand new appointment, you MUST indicate that it is your first invoice, AND you must make the Standard 2 certification as well.
- In the CASE ACTIVITY field, the date you should enter is the date that particular task was completed, not the date you’re entering information into the invoice.
- If you are prompted to enter more information (like selecting “other” for case activity), please do so. Brevity and clarity are appreciated.
- Once an invoice is submitted, it will be reviewed by the ID team and approved or rejected.
- Once approved, an invoice will be paid in accordance with the County’s fiscal policy.
- Under the hourly billing regime, we no longer have regular monthly payments (for new attorneys, this was a part of the old flat-fee payment system). Payments will come based on the timing of invoice submission and approval (typically within 7 days of approval).
- If we reject an invoice, you will receive an email explaining why.
- You cannot earn double time for waiting in court, or at the jail, for more than one client.
- As an example – Imagine you have two clients set for status conferences in Judge’s Quist’s courtroom on the same day/time. You end up waiting 1.25 hours to address your first case. Immediately after case # 1, you address your second case, taking about 10-15 minutes. You cannot bill all of your time spent waiting on both cases. You can choose how to allocate your waiting time, but it needs to be on one case or the other. In this scenario, we would expect an invoice for Case #1 to be 1.25, and the invoice for Case #2 to be .25.
- Often, at the jail, you find yourself waiting and waiting for your clients to be brought to you. Assume you have 3 clients to see. It takes .5 hours (30 mins) to have Client 1 brought to you, and another .5 hours to have your meeting with them. Client 2 takes another .25 (15 mins) to be brought to you, and you speak for .25 hours. You can’t see Client 3 because the first two visits took too long and you have to get back to court. You cannot bill the time you spent waiting for Client 1 on Client 2’s invoice. Time spent waiting on clients to be brought to you must be allocated accordingly and not duplicated on multiple client invoices.