Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

You Have A Right to an Attorney, But Not In Civil Cases

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Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

The Michigan Supreme Court will hold statewide town halls addressing equitable access to legal representation.

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Most people are familiar with their right to an attorney but may not realize this guarantee of council exclusively applies to criminal cases.

What we’re trying to do is provide information that will allow them to better represent themselves.” - Brian Zahra, Michigan Supreme Court

What happens if a defendant can’t afford representation in a civil case? The Michigan Supreme Court has created an initiative called the Justice for All Task Force to address this very question.

Listen: Michigan Supreme Court Justice Brian Zahra discusses the Court’s aim for equity in criminal justice reform.


Michigan Supreme Court Justice Brian Zahra says leveling the playing field for those who have trouble procuring an attorney in civil cases is crucial and is the ultimate goal of the Justice for All Task Force.

What we’re trying to do is provide information that will allow them to better represent themselves,” says Zahra. Making court documents more user-friendly and supporting limited scope representation will aid in the task force’s aim to empower citizens, says Zahra. 

Michigan Supreme Court Justices will be holding town hall meetings across the state to hear from residents about their wants and concerns. Zahra says the goal of the meetings is to hear from a range of people about their own experiences with the criminal justice system.

We want input from lawyers and non-lawyers alike,” he says.

The Justice for All Task Force will be holding a meeting today, February 24, 2020 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Hall located on 1358 Abbott Street in Detroit, Michigan.


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