Public Defender Russel A. Church



As I write this, I am a couple days away from starting my 37th year practicing law. I have practiced criminal law for most of those 37 years, and have been a criminal defense attorney for more than 20 years.  For seventeen of those years I was a public defender in Tennessee.  I tried over 350 jury trials as a defense attorney and have done roughly the same number of trials (both jury and judge alone) as a prosecutor in the Army and in Michigan.  I plan to use this experience to develop an office that provides the kind of quality representation that anyone who faces the loss of their liberty deserves.

I am very excited about the opportunity to build the Ingham County Office of the Public Defender.  It has been a long time coming, but in many ways the timing could not be better.  On the local and state level, there are many elected officials who have begun to question whether there aren’t better ways to run the criminal justice system.  More than 30 years of increasingly large numbers of individuals being incarcerated has not made the system more efficient or the communities safer.  Now is the time to make second chances a part of our dialogue.