MARQUETTE COUNTY WILL be opening up a brand new Public Defender’s Office next month.
Until now, the courts have assigned a rotating list of 12-15 attorneys to represent clients who couldn’t afford attorneys’ fees. The new set-up will change that. The Public Defender’s Office will be assigned most of those cases from now on.
“Our system has worked well in the past,” says Marquette County Administrator Scott Erbisch, “but the Public Defender’s Office will definitely be an enhancement.”
Erbisch says a new Public Defender has been hired, but his name has not been announced yet.
Update: The new Public Defender is Patrick J. Crowley. He’s an NMU grad who got his law degree at the University of Dayton. He’s been practicing law since 2003. Crowley called in after reading the WOTS story. He’d been holding off on the announcement until his wife notified her employer that they were moving.
He’ll be in Marquette late next week and he’s scheduled to start work on February 4th.
In addition, two assistant public defenders will be hired, along with two other office employees. A five person staff.
Erbisch says there’s currently no room for them in the courthouse so they’ll be renting office space downtown. They’ve scouted out three locations so far, all of them close to the courthouse.
The switch to a Public Defender’s system was mandated by the state following a court case several years ago. The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission was formed and came up with recommendations that are now being carried out throughout the state.
Attorney Andrew Jones was recently hired as Alger County’s Public Defender.
Funding for the staff and the office comes from both the county and the state.
IINTEREST IN NMU continues to run high.
Freshman applications for the upcoming semester were up 38% compared to last year–this, as of December 19th.
Transfer student applications were up 12%.
Undergraduate enrollment, which is held down by relatively small junior and senior classes, is up about 2%.
The increased interest and enrollment at NMU run counter to trends at most other state colleges in Michigan.
Why? Best guesses are that NMU is less expensive than most other colleges, its academic reputation is growing, and it’s acquired a certain cachet among outdoor enthusiasts.
The winter semester starts January 14th.
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