Regional Public Defender's Office

About Us:

In 2013, the Michigan legislature created the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) after an advisory commission recommended improvements to the state’s legal defense system. The MIDC works to ensure the state’s public defense system is fair, cost-effective and constitutional while simultaneously protecting public safety and accountability. In 2017, each Michigan county was required to submit to the MIDC a plan for compliance with the first four approved minimum standards for indigent criminal defense services, standards designed to improve the quality and efficiency of adult criminal defense. The Manistee-Benzie Public Defender’s Office was created in response to legislation aimed at improving adult criminal indigent defense system across the State of Michigan. This office became operational on June 1, 2019 and is designed to represent the adult, criminally accused in both Manistee and Benzie counties.  

Types of Cases

The Manistee-Benzie Public Defender's Office handles felony and misdemeanor cases for adults who are unable to afford privately retained counsel. 

Juveniles accused of crimes are also entitled to court appointed attorneys. However, the juvenile court appoints counsel through a roster of contract attorneys and not through the Public Defender's Office. This is due to state funding conditions. 

  1. Manistee Office

    Physical Address
    415 Third Street
    Manistee, MI 49660

    Fax: 231-398-3528

  2. Jane Johnson

    Chief Public Defender

  3. Duane Ryder Cowdery

    Associate Public Defender

  4. Benzie Office

    Physical Address
    448 Court Place
    Beulah, MI 49617

    Fax: 231-822-0028

  5. Anthony Cicchelli

    Chief Assistant Public Defender

  6. David Huft

    Assistant Public Defender