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Court endorses standards for lawyers who represent poor

The Michigan Supreme Court has signed off on broad standards for attorneys who represent people who can't afford a lawyer.

There's a caveat: The court says the standards will take effect if the Legislature makes some changes in law this year.

Attorneys appointed by local courts to represent criminal defendants must have "reasonable knowledge" of Michigan and federal law, certain scientific issues and technology.

They also must complete continuing legal education.

The Supreme Court says attorneys should be assigned to a case as soon as possible.

An attorney would be present at arraignments when bond is set, a practice that's not always found in state courts.

The standards announced Wednesday were recommended to the Supreme Court by the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission.

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