By Mike Kruzman & Jon King /

Funding has been approved that will help people in the court system using public defenders.

The Livingston County Finance Committee on Wednesday reviewed the request set forth by Chief Public Defender Karen Groenhout. $1.33-million of the $2.26 million budget for the office is covered by grant funding, with the county contributing the remaining $935,000. Livingston County will be provided the funding to assist with the compliance of the Michigan Indigent Defense Act, helping ensure their indigent criminal defense system meets the minimum standards set by the state’s indigent defense commission.

In discussing the funding, Groenhout told commissioners that there are a lot of misperceptions about what they do. “Individuals look at it and think that our job is to get people off. That’s not our job. Our job is to actually help individuals understand the process that they’re going through and making sure that their rights are protected, the rights that are given to them by the Constitution of the United States. We hold that very, very strongly and every single day we are able to accomplish that.”

Speaking at Monday’s Public Safety and Infrastructure and Development Committee meeting, Groenhout said their required match is slightly down this year compared to last year. Commissioner Doug Helzerman asked if these numbers are what they were expecting to receive. Groenhout said it was exactly what she asked for, and that Livingston County is one of the few in Michigan that got the amount they asked for in their first request.

The resolution to provide the funding was approved unanimously by both committees, and will now go to the full Board of Commissioners for final approval.