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Snyder makes appointments to Michigan Indigent Defense CommissionThursday, June 19, 2014
LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder today announced 15 appointments to the newly created Indigent Defense Commission.
The commission was created as a result of efforts to improve legal representation for low-income criminal defendants. In October 2011, Snyder issued Executive Order 2011-12, establishing the initial Indigent Defense Advisory Commission, responsible for recommending improvements to the state’s legal system. These recommendations served as the basis for legislation to address this need as well as called for the 15-member Indigent Defense Commission that the governor signed into law in July 2013.
“A key principle of the judicial system is that every citizen has a right to competent legal counsel,” Snyder said. “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.”
The 15-member board collects and compiles data necessary for the review of indigent defense services in Michigan, creates standards to ensure all systems providing indigent defense meet constitutional obligations for effective assistance of counsel, and develops requirements by which a person may establish a claim of indigence so those truly in need of a public defender will have one.
Initial one-year terms expiring April 1, 2015:
Kevin Oeffner, of Howell, is the court administrator for the 6th Judicial Circuit Court, where he previously served as deputy court administrator. He also served as the chief of program evaluation for the Oakland County Board of Commissioners and as program evaluation analyst for the Ingham County Controller’s Office. Oeffner earned a bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s in public administration and a master’s in business administration with a concentration in finance, all from Michigan State University. He will represent members submitted by the chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.
David Schuringa, of Grandville, is the president of Crossroad Bible Institute. He served in numerous roles as an ordained minister, most recently as senior pastor of Bethany Christian Reformed Church. He leads an educational agency with 45,000 participating inmates and just completed service on the Michigan Campaign for Justice. Schuringa earned a bachelor’s degree in theology and Greek from Trinity Christian College, a master of divinity in ministerial studies from Westminster Theological Seminary, a master of theology in homiletics-communications and practical theology from Calvin Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in homiletics-communications and practical theology from Theologische Universiteit te Kampen (Netherlands). He will represent the general public.
Initial two-year terms expiring April 1, 2016:
Brandy Robinson, of Detroit, is a research and writing specialist with the Legal Aid & Defender Federal Defender Office. She previously served as an assistant defender with the State Appellate Defender Office, was a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook Jr., and was an associate in the public law group at Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone. Robinson earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and African-American studies and a law degree, both from the University of Michigan.She will represent those whose primary mission or purpose is to advocate for minority interests.
William Swor, of Grosse Pointe Woods, is an attorney with William W. Swor, and has practiced federal criminal and immigration law for more than 40 years. He is on the board of directors of the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan as well as the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services. Swor is a member of the Practitioners Advisory Group to the United States Sentencing Commission. Swor earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Oakland University and a law degree from Wayne State University. He will represent members submitted by the Criminal Defense Attorney Association of Michigan.
Kimberly Thomas, of Ann Arbor, is a clinical professor of law at University of Michigan, specializing in criminal law and practice. She is the co-founder of the Juvenile Justice Clinic. Thomas was honored in 2013 with the Justice for All Award from the Criminal Defense Attorneys Association of Michigan. Thomas earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and economics from the University of Maryland College Park and a law degree from Harvard. She will represent members submitted by the Criminal Defense Attorney Association of Michigan.
Initial three-year terms expiring April 1, 2017:
Shela Motley, of Okemos,previously worked in various capacities with the state of Michigan, most recently as a special agent with the Michigan Department of Attorney General where she investigated allegations of health care and consumer fraud, and patient abuse and neglect. She also served as a public health investigator with the Michigan Department of Public Health and a corrections officer with the Michigan Department of Corrections. Motley earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Michigan State University. She will represent members submitted by the Senate Majority Leader.
Michael Puerner, of Ada, is the vice president, secretary, and general counsel of Hastings Mutual Insurance. He previously was a shareholder with Foster Swift Collins & Smith. He is on the executive committee of the Federal Bar Association’s, West Michigan Chapter, and is a founding trustee and current vice president of the Adjunct to U.S. District Court – Western District Michigan. Puerner earned a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Northwestern University and a law degree from the University of Minnesota. He will represent members submitted by the Senate Majority Leader.
Cletus Smith, of Adrian, is a Lenawee County commissioner, where he chairs the Physical Resources Committee and is vice chair of the Criminal Justice Committee. He had an extensive career in law enforcement; he retired as captain of the Lenawee County Sheriff’s Office and served in numerous capacities including acting undersheriff, lieutenant of the detective bureau and support services, head of the narcotics division, and deputy sheriff. Smith serves on the boards of the Lenawee Humane Society and the Lenawee County Mission. He will represent members submitted by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Initial four-year terms expiring April 1, 2018:
Nancy Diehl, of Detroit, retired from the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office in 2009, where she served as trial division chief. She founded and directed the Child Abuse Unit and the Child and Family Abuse Bureau. Diehl received Western Michigan University’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009, Wayne County Council Against Family Violence Spirit Award in 2009, and the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan Jean King Leadership Award in 2006. Diehl earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and general business from Western Michigan University and a law degree from Wayne State University. She will represent members submitted by the State Bar of Michigan.
Jim Fisher, of Hastings, will chair the commission. He is an attorney with Law Weathers where his primary practice areas are arbitration and mediation. He previously served as chief judge of Barry County Circuit Court. He chaired the initial Indigent Defense Advisory Commission and is a director of Hastings City Bank. Fisher earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from General Motors Institute and a law degree from Wayne State University. He will represent members submitted by the Michigan Judges Association.
Gary Walker, of Marquette, is the supervisor of Chocolay Township and previously served as the prosecuting attorney for Marquette County for more than 35 years. He serves on the Deans’ Advisory Council, College of Behavioral Science at Northern Michigan University. Walker earned a bachelor’s degree in social science from Michigan State University and a law degree from the University of Michigan. He will represent former prosecuting attorneys or former assistant county prosecuting attorneys.
After the initial terms, members will serve four-year terms. Their appointments are not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.
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