Contact: John Cwikla
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 16, 2020
Macomb County announces new Public Defender, begins providing local indigent defense services
Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel today announced Thomas J. Tomko as the county’s new Public Defender. Tomko previously served as the Macomb County Office of Public Defender Administrator, a position to which he was named in March 2020, when the office was created.
“Tom has done an outstanding job getting the county’s Office of Public Defender up and running,” said Hackel. “In the midst of a pandemic, he was able to establish plans, hire staff and begin collaborating with local courts. His incredible work will ensure defendants receive legal counsel and representation when they can’t afford it. I am certain he will excel in this new position.”
Since its inception, the Macomb County Charter has included a provision for an Office of Public Defender. Over the past few years, the county, based on recommended standards and guidance from the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC), has worked towards the goal of creating this office.
Now, seven months since its establishment, the Macomb County Office of Public Defender is ready to serve the public. However, the office is different from other local county indigent defense programs which use contract agencies or a roster of attorneys to provide services. In Macomb County, the Public Defender is a county department which will offer direct legal counsel and representation to those who need it.
“We are establishing roots here with deliberate steps toward creating a lasting, impactful and high-quality indigent defense county office,” Tomko said. “I am proud to say Macomb County is striving to meet and exceed state indigent representation standards ahead of schedule. We are getting our talented team in place, which we will expand in the future so we can continue our work on behalf of indigent adult criminal defendants in Macomb County.”
The Macomb County Office of Public Defender has three divisions: Administration, Felony Circuit Court Litigation and Misdemeanor District Court Litigation. Administrative functions started in June and will continue to be transferred from the Judicial Aide Department over the next several weeks as additional staff join the office. The Felony Circuit Court Litigation Division will represent a percentage of indigent adult defendants charged with felonies, many of which are capital charges. The Misdemeanor District Court Litigation Division will represent a percentage of indigent adult defendants charged with misdemeanors in the 42-1 (Romeo) and 42-2 (New Baltimore) District Courts. Two staff attorneys, Elisha Oakes and Adrian Cranford, will begin directly providing services to indigent defendants in the 42nd District Courts in late November.
There are no current plans for work in other non-Macomb County funded district courts, which may choose to continue separate operation of indigent defense systems in their courts, or seek efficiencies by collaborating with the Macomb County Office of the Public Defender.
Click here for bios and headshots of Thomas Tomko, Elisha Oakes and Adrian Cranford.
43565 Elizabeth Rd., Mt. Clemens, MI, 48043