The Muskegon County Office of the Public Defender

The Muskegon County Office of the Public Defender was established in 2014 by our Board of Commissioners.
The Office has become a full equal partner in the public safety and justice system within the county and is represented in all relevant programming, policy or procedural committees.  It handles all criminal, juvenile and special civil law appointments and provides a wide array of services related to probation violations, line-ups, personal protection orders, extraditions, Friend of the Court matters, bond reduction hearings, diversions and response to legal questions from the public.

The Office partners with businesses, non-profits, schools, churches, and other units of government to prevent crime and enhance public safety by rendering top quality legal representation as needed to enforce constitutionally mandated public defense competently, effectively, efficiently, ethically and vigorously in all criminal, juvenile and civil law appointments in order to achieve justice where rights are protected, due process is received fairly and equally, rehabilitation is effective, recidivism is reduced and re-entry into society as law-abiding and productive residents is realized. 
The outcome sought for everyone is to have a safe and just society where in addition to the prevention of racial profiling, domestic violence and the neglect of or abuse of children, there are also viable resources available to ensure that those in need receive appropriate mental health treatment, diversion from incarceration without any compromise to safety, locally based substance treatment and services, educational and training opportunities for gainful employment, and adequate housing within a community that has put an end to homelessness.

Our department is also comprised of dedicated career attorneys who operate as well trained, experienced and coordinated teams with full parity in salaries with prosecutors and, most importantly, one that meets all of the Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System established by the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan, the Michigan Campaign for Justice and the Michigan Public Defense Task Force. At any given time, the Office is further augmented with select volunteer attorneys plus an average of 30-50 volunteer select externs and intern investigators from law schools and universities.

In addition to reducing the cost of doing business while providing top quality service, our Office forever seeks to improve the justice system whereby the double tragedy never occurs in our jurisdiction of having an innocent person convicted and punished while the guilty person escapes penalty altogether and remains free to continue to abuse, harm and endanger the community.

Thank you again for participating in our public defense system and supporting our community in helping to render justice in our court system!

Frederick D. Johnson
Office of Muskegon County Public Defender