By Carrie Johnson, National Public Radio, June 14, 2012

Lawyers on all sides agree the system enshrined nearly 50 years ago that gives all defendants the right to a lawyer is not working. The Justice Department calls it a crisis — such a big problem that it’s been doling out grants to improve how its adversaries perform in criminal cases.

Consider Michigan: Five times since the 1980s, independent groups have called on Michigan to change the way it pays lawyers for the poor. Each time, state officials have done nothing. And a 2008 study by a legal nonprofit association said the state’s indigent defense system had reached a “constitutional crisis.”

Read more