Monday, August 18, 2008

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8.18.08: Top of the Weekly

Here's what we have going in the Aug. 18 issue of Michigan Lawyers Weekly. Subscribers can click any of the links below for the full details. For the rest of you, here's how you can
get on board

Ingram leaves MILW publisher post for Wayne County position
Click here to read the full story.

'Reform Michigan Government Now' - Analysis (Correction)
Dems will take over on COA: MILW's mistaken identification of COA Judge Jansen as Republican skewed earlier coverage
Click here to read the full story.

Verdicts & Settlements Plus
Family feud costs daughter of auto entrepreneur millions
Click here to read the full story.

Civil Rights Action
Indecent exposure: Unruly detainees allege constitutional rights violations, receive combined $145K in damages
Click here to read the full story.

Technology Update
Litigators integrate cutting edge courtroom technology into everyday practice
Click here to read the full story.

Built For Speed
Into the wild blue yonder
Click here to read the full story.

Practice Profile
Bodman's labor, employment law practice expands with addition of veteran attorney
Click here to read the full story.

Practice Profile
Second time around: Childhood friends reunite unexpectedly, create formidable litigation firm
Click here to read the full story.

Practice Profile
Seasoned personal injury attorney thrives, even in the decade following tort reform
Click here to read the full story.

Friday, August 15, 2008

8.15.08: What they're saying ...

"Most certainly, legislators will come to hear about the impacts of this decision from constituents and interest groups of every competing philosophy and occupation."

- Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Bill Schuette, concurring in Woodman v. Kera, LLC.

Schuette, along with COA Judges Michael Talbot (lead opinion) and William Bandstra (concurring opinion), earlier this week ruled that because the common law provides that parents can't waive their children's rights, pre-injury liability waivers that parents sign on behalf of their children can't be enforced absent a legislative abrogation of the common law.

"The decision in this case is bound to have enormous consequence and profound impact throughout Michigan," Schuette wrote. To emphasize his point, Schuette included exemplars of a variety of pre-injury parental waivers for marathons, field trips, athletic camps and summer camps.


"I expected a punch line to a bad joke. He was dead serious."

- Frank Sila, quoted in The Kalamazoo Gazette.

Sila, a volunteer who conducts Bible studies at the county jail, was reacting to a participant who saw himself as a responsible man because he didn't beat his wife in front of his children. The statement prompted Sila and others to round up the funding and equipment to replace some of the regular network television programming the inmates watch with educational shows about parenting, resume writing, sexually transmitted diseases, jail rules, addiction, drugs and depression.


"They suck. They're loud. And it keeps me up all day."

- Kalamazoo County Jail inmate Anthony Hood, quoted in The Kalamazoo Gazette.

Hood was reacting to the new television programs at the jail.


"Whenever I come across a business that has a step or two to get in, the owner usually says, 'No one in a wheelchair ever shops here.' I think it's pretty obvious why they don't."

- William Milzarski, a rights representative for the Michigan Commission on Disability Concerns, quoted in The Detroit Free Press.

Milzarski noted that handicap access is still a problem at many public places. Erica Nader, who works to highlight access issues, took a wheelchair tour of Ferndale in commemoration of the 18th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. At one business, the door met regulations and was 32 inches wide. The bathroom was also up to ADA snuff but a 6-inch step prevented Nader from gaining access to the business without assistance. The owner was receptive to upgrade suggestions.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The joke's on the 'Joker'

I'm not making this up. Honest. From the Associated Press:

"A Three Rivers man accused of trying to steal a large Batman movie poster from a cinema lobby while dressed up as the Joker has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of malicious destruction of property.

"Twenty-year-old Spencer Taylor entered the plea Wednesday in St. Joseph County District Court.

"A judge ordered him to serve one day in jail, perform 16 hours of community service and pay $685 in fines.

"Charges of attempted larceny in a building and using a mask to conceal his identity during the commission of a crime were dismissed as part of Taylor's plea agreement.

"Three Rivers police say he was wearing a purple suit, green wig and face paint when they arrested him on July 27."
Foolish prank. Nifty disguise.

Sound off on proposed federal court rule changes

Proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Appellate, Bankruptcy, Civil, and Criminal Procedure, and Federal Rules of Evidence have been posted here and are open for your comments through Feb. 17, 2009.

A brochure prepared by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts summarizes the proposed amendments. For more detailed committee reports, scroll to the bottom of the page here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bone up on Michigan bankruptcy practice

Nov. 11 is a court holiday, so it's the perfect time for bankruptcy practitioners to get the latest at the American Bankruptcy Institute Detroit Consumer Bankruptcy Conference.

Things get underway at the Troy Marriott beginning at 7 a.m. with a breakfast and registration period sponsored by Trott & Trott. There's a full day of informational sessions by leading practitioners and bankruptcy judges.

The luncheon keynote speaker is Amy Crews Cutts, Deputy Chief Economist, Freddie Mac; Washington, D.C. Her topic: "The Economic and Housing Market Outlook - When Might We See Bottom?"

Complete information and registration form here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

21 for the 21st Century

There are many law firms out there doing some amazing 21st Century things.

Michigan Lawyers Weekly and the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan have selected 21 of them for special recognition.

What are these firms up to? They're offering long-term retention programs for associates that encourage growth within the law firm. They have flex-time programs that recognize the importance of work/life balance without compromising momentum for the partnership track. Their offices are technology-driven, allowing associates and partners to work as efficiently outside the building as inside. And, they recruit the cream of the crop from Michigan law schools and encourage them to stay and practice law in Michigan.

On Sept. 10, 2008 at The Birmingham Community House, these 21 firms and their managing partners will be welcomed into the Century Club.

One special firm will be crowned the 2008 21st Century Innovator.

More information here or call Julie Sherwood at 248.865.3110.

Hats off and kudos to:

Brooks Kushman P.C.
James A. Kushman, Mark A. Cantor

Collins Einhorn Farrell & Ulanoff, PC
Clayton F. Farrell

Dickinson Wright PLLC
James A. Samborn

Dilley & Haney P.C.
Troy W. Haney

Rex E. Schlaybaugh Jr.

Foley & Mansfield PLLP
Gary D. Sharp

Honigman Miller Schwartz & Cohn LLP
David Foltyn

Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer & Weiss, P.C.
Richard A. Zussman

Kienbaum Opperwall Hardy & Pelton, P.L.C.
Eric J. Pelton

Maddin, Hauser, Wartell, Roth & Heller, P.C.
Michael W. Maddin, Mark R. Hauser, Steven D. Sallen

Michael Morse, P.C.
Michael J. Morse

Miller Johnson
Jeffrey S. Ammon

Nacht & Associates, PC
David A. Nacht

Nemeth Burwell, P.C.
Patricia Nemeth, Linda G. Burwell

Nichols, Sacks, Slank, Sendelbach & Buiteweg, PC
Monika Holzer

Sacks Pear Sperling Eggan & Daniels, P.C.
Edwin Pear

Plunkett Cooney, PC
Henry B. Cooney

Rader, Fishman & Grauer PLLC
Michael B. Stewart, Glenn E. Forbis

Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt & Howlett LLP
Larry Murphy

Vercruysse Murray & Calzone, P.C.
Robert Vercruysse, Gregory V. Murray, David B. Calzone

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP
Douglas E. Wagner

Thanks to all of the firms who participated in the nomination process.

Friday, August 8, 2008

8.8.08: What they're saying ...

"He's got so much legal weight on his shoulders that he can't stay afloat."

- Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, quoted in an Associated Press report.

Patterson is part of the thundering chorus of politicians, officials and John Six-Packs who have had more than enough of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick faces a raft of charges arising from allegedly false testimony in court. He was sent to the slammer yesterday for violating the terms of his bond, and likely will be charged today with assault by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox for allegedly pushing a Wayne County Sheriff detective who was trying to deliver a subpoena to one of the mayor's buddies.


"I didn't believe in the death (penalty) until Thursday."

- Sarah McDarment, quoted in The Detroit News.

McDarment's brother, Mort, was shot and killed a week ago Thursday, along with two friends near the Menominee River, which is part of the boundary between the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin. The bodies of Mort's two friends were recovered in Wisconsin; Mort's body was found in Michigan. A 38-year-old Upper Peninsula man has been accused of the slayings and is being held on a $3 million cash bond. Federal prosecutors are determining whether they have jurisdiction over the case and, if they do, have not ruled out seeking the death penalty.


"To the extent of the criminal proceedings, his nightmare is over, and he doesn't have to worry anymore."

- Defense attorney Hugh Clarke, Jr., quoted in The Lansing State Journal.

Clarke's client, Claude McCollum, spent over two years in prison after a jury convicted him of raping and murdering a Lansing Community College professor. He was freed when a video recording surfaced that showed McCollum was somewhere else when the professor was killed. Clarke and Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III have been jousting in court for months over whether the charges against McCollum should be dismissed with or without prejudice. Yesterday, on McCollum's 31st birthday, Dunnings relented and filed a dismissal with prejudice.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Judge jails Detroit mayor for bond violation, invokes 'John Six-Pack' standard

"[I]f it was John Six-Pack sitting in the seat, what would I do?"

That's a mighty good question 36th District Court Judge Robert Giles asked this morning as Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick begged forgiveness for violating the terms of his bond by taking a trip to Windsor last month without first getting the court's permission.

As a matter of fact, it's a mighty good standard for any judge to apply when dealing with a high-profile defendant who has screwed up by flaunting a court order.

And it's the standard Giles used to revoke Kilpatrick's bond and order him to jail, according to a report in The Detroit News.

The Detroit Free Press reports that:

"Court officials said Kilpatrick would remain in jail until he either posts the full $75,000 bond or until his lawyers can persuade a Wayne County Circuit Court judge to overturn the decision. But first, Kilpatrick would be taken to the 36th District Court detention area."
Kilpatrick's lawyer said the mayor will spend the night in jail, and a circuit-court appeal of Giles' order will be heard tomorrow, reports The Associated Press.

The Free Press reports that Kilpatrick told Giles: "'Last week was a tremendous wake-up call to me,' he said, referring to Giles' rebuke last month after he allegedly assaulted law enforcement officials trying to serve a subpoena."

If Giles' scolding of the mayor last week was a "tremendous wake-up call," I wonder what Kilpatrick will think about the one Giles made this morning: a night in jail, just like any other John Six-Pack.

Friday, August 1, 2008

8.1.08: What they're saying ...

"This is not the proverbial file in the birthday cake."

- Attorney Jon Muth, quoted in the Grand Rapids Press.

Muth was responding to speculation that lots of criminals would have a shot at freedom if the Judicial Tenure Commission decides, and the Michigan Supreme Court concurs, that his client, 63rd District Court Judge Steven Servaas, vacated his office by moving out of his elected district and later moving back into it. The theory is that any case Servaas heard while he allegedly vacated his office would be invalid. JTC Executive Director Paul Fischer, apparently wanting to have it both ways, suggested that the MSC could name Servaas as a visiting judge for the cases in question even if he is removed from the bench.


"I believe that this is one of the dirtiest of political tricks I've ever seen. It's a dirty election-eve tactic, especially one that has no merit, no substance."

- 38th District Court Judge Norene Redmond, quoted in The Detroit News.

With a hotly contested primary election just a few days away (five challengers seek to replace Redmond), news surfaced earlier this week that Eastpointe Police Chief Michael Lauretti and Macomb Prosecutor Eric Smith complained to the Judicial Tenure Commission about the judge's courtroom behavior. Lauretti and Smith say they filed their paperwork "months ago." The Michigan Supreme Court censured Redmond in February for several instances of unprofessional conduct. Lauretti and Smith allege that Redmond allegedly "humiliated" an assistant prosecutor and a police detective during a March 4 hearing.


"I was the only judicial candidate with permission to have signs there, and I was acting on orders from the property owner."

- 52-2 District Court Judge Dana Fortinberry, quoted in The Detroit Free Press.

Fortinberry was explaining why she was captured on camera yanking up campaign signs for her opponent, Joseph Fabrizio, on some property near the courthouse. As it turns out, they both may have been in the wrong. According to the Free Press, the signs for Fortinberry and Fabrizio appeared to be in the public easement alongside the road, which would violate an Independence Township ordinance.