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A Constitutional Crisis

The year is 1985. Eddie Joy Lloyd is led out of a Wayne County courtoom in shackles, sentenced to life in prison for the rape and murder of 16-year-old Michelle Jackson.

Eddie Joe Lloyd didn't commit the crime though. The only crime Mr. Lloyd is guilty of is not being able to afford adequate defense, thereby being assigned an underpaid and overworked public defender.


Some Background: Michigan, From First to Worst

Between 1908 and 2008, Michigan's public defense system has fallen from first to worst.

It was not until 1963 that the U.S. Supreme Court mandated government-provided counsel across the country for indigent people facing criminal convictions. Michigan, however, had begun creating such a mandate statewide over a century ago — public counsel was pioneered by the State of Michigan. This novel concept became enshrined in the Michigan Constitution in 1908, and it was this Michigander movement that eventually led to the establishment of public counsel throughout the United States.

Unfortunately, throughout the latter 20th-century, Michigan's public defense system fell victim to economic and budgetary hardship, as well as increased partisan deadlock. During that time, the system plummeted from being the nation's exemplar to the nation's worst. Today, inefficency, very poor funding, and lack of proper regulation have not only put innocent people in prison, but wasted taxpayer dollars and let the actual culprits roam the streets.


The Film

Publicly Defended takes you to the heart of today's matter. From the people who protect the innocent to those trying to create change, this film compels every Michigan resident to demand reform. It is a chilling and heartbreaking look at what happens when money and politics in the Michigan justice system become more important than the lives it seeks to protect.

Publicly Defended features exclusive dialogue from:

'Publicly Defended' Executive Producer: Nicholas Baker. Co-Executive Producer: Stephanie Sparks. Associate Producer: Gary Cox. Co-Produced by Jacob Fields, Alex Witte, Patrick Ronan, and Sean Bowman. Music by Christo4us. This film is not rated. www.publiclydefended.com