Founded in 1895, the Ingham County Bar Association continues its 115-year tradition of service to the legal profession and the greater Lansing community, bringing lawyers together to join in a strong organization that works to achieve objectives that transcend the individual. The ICBA is proud to provide programs and services designed to improve our local judicial system, foster & enhance the quality of legal services in our community, and provide educational and professional programs for our members. Welcome to the Ingham County Bar Association!
Ingham County Bar Association Practical Guide
A Resource for New Attorneys
Admitted in Michigan
A PUBLICATION OF THE YOUNG LAWYERS SECTION
OF THE INGHAM COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION
Task Force recommendations would dramatically change how the Michigan
Supreme Court justices are selected
By: Liisa R. Speaker
On April 26, 2012, the Judicial
Selection Task Force held a press conference at the State Capitol introducing
its report and recommendations to overhaul the selection process for the
Michigan Supreme Court. Michigan Supreme
Court Justice Marilyn Kelly and Sixth Circuit Judge James Ryan co-chaired the
Task Force and presented the recommendations.
Sandra Day O’Connor served as Honorary Chair to the Task Force. The Task
Force’s report is available at www.lwvmi.org.
The Task Force represents a
bipartisan group of judges, attorneys, and non-attorneys who came together in
an attempt to remedy the negative image of the Michigan Supreme Court. The Task
Force is a private endeavor and was funded by the State Bar Foundation, the
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the League of Women Voters. As noted in
the Task Force’s report, Supreme Court elections in Michigan have “attracted
national attention for its excessive cost, its lack of transparency, and its
The Task Force made six
recommendations. Making the recommendations a reality will involve a
combination of legislative action, constitutional amendment, and executive
Reform the Campaign Finance Act to require the names of PAC contributors to
be publicly available. This is the Task
Force’s first recommendation because Michigan has the highest spending of all
states for supreme court elections. As Judge Ryan reported at the Task Force
press conference, the 10th highest state (Iowa) spent less than $2
million. The 2nd highest state
(Pennsylvania, whose population is larger than Michigan’s) spent $5.5
million. Michigan is in 1st place with
expenditures of over $9 million for the supreme court races, not including
another $3 million from outside the State.
Michigan’s campaign finance system was highlighted in a recent report on
“The New Politics of Judicial Elections: 2009-2010" (2011), available at
http://www.brennancenter.org/content/resource/the_new_politics_of_judicial_elections_2009-10/. That report noted that most of the spending
on Michigan’s Supreme Court race came from special-interest groups, and that
source of the special-interest spending was concealed from the public.
Eliminate the selection of Supreme Court justices through the political
The Task Force highlighted the importance of this recommendation because
the allegedly nonpartisan judicial elections in Michigan ring hollow when
political parties nominate candidates for the Supreme Court. In fact, the only
way for a candidate to appear on the ballot is to secure the nomination of a
political party. Eliminating political parties from the election process would
give the public confidence in the nonpartisan elections.
Create a nonpartisan citizens’ campaign oversight committee to monitor judicial campaign advertisements. The formation of the
committee would help reduce negative campaigns, which “weaken public confidence
in the justices.” The oversight
committee would check the factual claims in advertisements and “denounce false,
misleading, or destructive messages.”
Distribute a voters education guide to all
registered voters, which would be prepared by the Secretary of State. The guide
would provide voters neutral information about each candidate for the Supreme
5. Create a nonpartisan Governor’s Advisory
Screening Committee consisting of nonpartisan attorneys and non-attorneys
to advise the governor on appointments to the Supreme Court. The Task Force noted that the Governor would
not be bound by the recommendation of the committee. The Task Force further recommends that the
names and credentials of the candidates under consideration for the appointment
to the supreme court be publicly available.
The Task Force noted that “this process would assure the public that the
Governor did not base his or her appointments on whim or political patronage
but instead on a sound examination of each candidate’s suitability for
Remove the age 70 limitation in the
Michigan Constitution that prevents justices from running for election or being
appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court after their 70th birthday.
The Task Force also explored the
possibility of creating a judicial nomination committee which would replace the
judicial election system for the Supreme Court. This is often referred to as a
“merit selection” system. There are
several models that could serve for a nomination-based system, such as a
gubernatorial appointment with legislative confirmation or gubernatorial
appointment with a retention election.
Although some member of the Task
Force preferred a nominations system, that is not one of the Task Force’s recommendations. In any event, if the six recommended changes
were made to the judicial election system, and if those changes succeeded in
“restoring public confidence in the supreme court, decreasing misleading attack
advertisements, reducing the influence of political parties, better educating
voters, and reducing undisclosed spending” then some members of the Task Force
who favored a nomination process would still view the reform as a success.
The Task Force recommendations are a
significant first step in what will certainly prove to be a long process to
effectuating needed improvements to the judicial election system for the
Michigan Supreme Court.
Bio: Liisa R. Speaker is the Chair
of the State Bar of Michigan’s Appellate Practice Section.
We are pleased to announce that as a law student member of
the Ingham County Bar Association, you are eligible to sit it on case
evaluations in the Ingham County Circuit Court.
Case evaluations are designed to assist parties in a lawsuit in reaching
a settlement. They generally occur after
all discovery in a civil lawsuit has been completed and before trial. A panel of three experienced attorneys
receives written briefs from the parties, summarizing the case. The attorneys for the parties are then
generally given approximately 15 minutes per side to address the panel and
respond to questions. The panel then
deliberates and reaches an evaluation, which is a suggested settlement
amount. The parties have 28 days
thereafter to accept or rejected the case evaluation. A party who rejects a case evaluation is at
risk of having to pay the other side's costs and attorney fees, from the point
of rejection forward, if they do not improve their position at trial from the
amount of the case evaluation. If the
parties accept the evaluation, the case settles for that amount.
Case evaluations are not open to the public and usually
occur in a setting where only the attorneys and panel members are permitted to be
In an effort to assist in the development of law students as
they proceed in their careers, the Chief Judge of the Ingham County Circuit
Court, the Honorable Janelle Lawless, has approved this program for law student
members of our Association. The panels
of case evaluators specialize in particular areas of law which are: tort, commercial litigation, and labor law.
If you are interested
in attending a case evaluation, please complete the attached form. Download Registration Form
We believe that you will find this program worthwhile to
your development as an attorney. It will
give you a sense of how to prepare cases and inform you as to the way that
experienced attorneys assess the strengths and weaknesses of a case. We encourage you to take advantage of this
Sixty-Minute Mentoring is
Back and Looking for You!
We all know that mentoring is
critical to our profession. The best advice we often receive is from
attorneys who take a few minutes to share their time and experience with us and
answer our questions.
We hope that you are willing to spend 60 minutes – at a time, date, and
location that you select – to spend time with 1 or 2 new attorneys or law
students. You will be able to share information that only a practicing
attorney can offer.
For more information, please contact Kathy Lawrence firstname.lastname@example.org if you
are interested in being a mentor or if you are an attorney or law student and
interested in being mentored. If you can spare 60 minutes, you can be a
To register for Ingham County Bar Association events - go to calendar tab.
You can register online or use a pdf registration form (when available).
Note: You can only register one person at a time using the online method.
When using the online method for paying with a credit card, please make sure the address where the credit card statement/invoice is on record matches correctly or you payment will be rejected.
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Click on the "Member Directory" tab above, go to your profile, and make sure it is up to date.
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