Michigan Indigent Defense Commission Executive Director Loren Khogali Steps Down

July 8, 2021 - Today, the Michigan indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) announced plans to search for a new Executive Director following the resignation of current Executive Director, Loren Khogali.

"Under Loren's Leadership, local public defense systems across the State have grown exponentially and some of the most important social justice reforms that Michigan has ever seen have been accomplished," said LARA Director Orlene Hawks. "Her work helps ensure that those who cannot afford to hire an attorney have access to legal assistance when they need it. I want to thank Loren for her commitment, passion and for championing these initiatives."

Khogali joined the MIDC in 2018 and led the MIDC staff and the Commission to many accomplishments. During her tenure, Khogali led the implementation of the State's minimum standards, including mandated annual training for indigent defense attorneys statewide and creating pathways that provide indigent defendants access to experts and investigators. Recently, she oversaw the process of approving Standard 5, requiring all indigent defense programs to be independent from the judiciary. Under Khogali's leadership, 20 new public defender offices, including regional defender offices, and 40 managed assigned counsel systems have been established and secured substantial funding each year from the Legislature to fund the submitted compliance plans from across the state. Khogali's last day as Executive Director of the MIDC will be July 22, 2021. 

"The MIDC thanks Loren Khogali for being a true Champion of Public Defense," said MIDC Chair Jeffrey Collins. "Her vision, dedication and inspiring leadership has enhanced our state's public defense system. In the midst of a global pandemic she took steps to ensure the rights of indigent defendants to receive effective representation was not compromised. Loren Khogali earned the utmost respect from the Commission, the MIDC staff and public defense stakeholders statewide."

MIDC is committed to a smooth transition of leadership to ensure public defense in Michigan continues to improve. During a special Commission meeting today, the MIDC established guidelines for selecting a new Executive Director and named Marla McCowan, MIDC's Director of Training, Outreach and Support to serve as Interim Executive Director, effective July 23, 2021

In her role as Director of Training, Outreach and Support, Marla worked with trial court funding units to facilitate implementation of new continuing legal education requirements for over 2,000 attorneys accepting assigned criminal cases in Michigan. Prior to joining the MIDC, Marla served as a public defender at the appellate level for over 16 years at the Michigan State Appellate Defender Office, nearly four of which included overseeing training for indigent defense practitioners around Michigan. Marla graduated from Eastern Michigan University and University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

To learn more about the MIDC, please watch this 4 ½ minute video.

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