St. Joseph probate judge retiring after 24 years

Mlive is reporting that Judge Thomas Shumaker has announced his retirement from St. Joseph County Probate Court.

“I feel this is best for me, my family and my staff,” Shumaker said in a statement. “It is time I stop judging others and turn to helping others, for as things exist I find it harder to do so from the bench.”

Shumaker, who has sat on the bench for the last 24 years, is the second judge in Centreville to announce he will not seek re-election in November. District Court Judge William Welty announced in December he planned to retire at the end of his term. Both will leave office at year’s end.

There already is a candidate for Shumaker’s seat: Three Rivers attorney John Barnes, who on Tuesday announced his candidacy.

In his announcement, Barnes said he has handled “thousands of cases” involving probate, estate planning and abuse and neglect. In addition, for the past 22 years, Barnes handled criminal cases and municipal law cases as an assistant city attorney for Three Rivers.

MSC orders amendments to MCRs

In orders released late yesterday, the Michigan Supreme Court took the following action on amendments to the Michigan Court Rules, the Rules Concerning the State Bar of Michigan and the Rules for the Board of Law Examiners:

Amendment of MCR 5.208
Notice to Creditors, Presentment of Claims

Issued: 5/17/11
Effective: 9/01/11

Staff Comment: The amendment of MCR 5.208 removes the requirement to list a decedent’s last known address on the Notice to Creditors form.

The staff comment is not an authoritative construction by the Court.
ADM File No. 2009-29

Amendment of MCR 6.005
Right to Assistance of Lawyer; Advice; Appointment for Indigents; Waiver; Joint Representation; Grand Jury Proceedings

Issued: 5/17/11
Effective: 9/01/11

Staff Comment: The amendment of MCR 6.005(H) revises the rule to clarify that appointed and retained defense counsel in a criminal proceeding either must file a substantive response to a prosecutor’s application for interlocutory appeal or notify the Court of Appeals that the lawyer intends not to submit a pleading.

The staff comment is not an authoritative construction by the Court.
ADM File No. 2008-28

Amendment of Rule 3 of the Rules Concerning the State Bar of Michigan and Rule 8 of the Rules for the Board of Law Examiners
Rule 3 Membership Classes; Rule 8 Recertification

Issued: 5/17/11
Effective: 9/01/11

Staff Comment: The amendment of SBR 3(E), submitted by the State Bar of Michigan, would clarify that an out-of-state attorney who voluntarily resigned from the Michigan bar would not be required to retake the Michigan Bar Examination if the person meets the criteria for admission without examination under Rule 5 of the Rules for the Board of Law Examiners. A similar change also is made in SBR 3(F) regarding emeritus members.

Finally, Rule 8 of the Rules for the Board of Law Examiners is amended to reflect that resigned or emeritus members who seek readmission are covered under Rule 8, which allows for recertification.

The staff comment is not an authoritative construction by the Court.
ADM File No. 2009-20

Proposed Amendment of MCR 3.501
Class Actions

Issued: 5/17/11
Action: Court declined to adopt either proposal; file closed.

The proposed amendment of MCR 3.501(B) in Alternative A would have required a change in circumstances to have occurred that would allow a party to file a supplemental motion for certification of a class within 21 days of the party’s knowledge of the changed circumstances. The proposed amendment also would have allowed a party to file a motion for revocation or amendment of the certification. The court as well would have been allowed to consider supplemental motions to recertify and revoke or amend the certification. The proposed amendment of MCR 3.501(B) in Alternative B would have clarified that only one motion for certification may be brought, and that once granted, the certification may be amended or revoked.
ADM File No. 2008-18.

Wayne probate judge receives national award

From the Michigan Probate Judges Association comes word that Wayne County Probate Court Chief Judge Milton L. Mack, Jr. is the 2010 recipient of the National College of Probate Judges’ Treat Award for Excellence.

Mack is the first Michigan judge to receive the award, which was presented yesterday at the National College of Probate Judges’ annual meeting.

From the MPJA:

Judge Susan L. Dobrich, Chief Judge of Cass County Probate Court, and Hon. Patrick J. McGraw, Chief Judge of Saginaw County Probate Court, took the lead in nominating Mack for the Treat Award. They were supported by numerous probate judges and others who praised Mack for his efforts to reform Michigan’s mental health system.

“Judge Mack has made countless contributions to the improvement of the administration of justice,” Dobrich and McGraw wrote.

“Judge Mack has been unyielding in finding humane and alternative solutions for the mentally ill.”

Dobrich is president of the Michigan Probate Judges Association; McGraw is chair of the MPJA’s Governance Committee.

Mack, who has served as a probate judge for 20 years, has advocated changing the standard for courts to order involuntary treatment of mental illness, in order to promote early treatment and reduce crime related to mental illness.

He has proposed changes to the Michigan Mental Health Code to improve access to services for the mentally ill. In April 2010, Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly of the Michigan Supreme Court highlighted Mack’s efforts in her “State of the Judiciary” address before the Legislature.

Mack has written articles on mental health reform, guardianship, and mediation, including “Involuntary Treatment for the 21st Century”, which was published in the Quinnipiac Law Journal. A frequent lecturer on mental health issues, Mack was a featured speaker at the 2009 Spring Conference of the National College of Probate Judges.

Established in 1978, the Treat Award is presented annually to one who has made “a significant contribution to the improvement of the law or judicial administration in probate or related fields.”

The award is named in honor of Judge William W. Treat, founder and President Emeritus of the National College of Probate Judges. Previous recipients include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Professor James Casner of Harvard Law School, and other prominent legal scholars.

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Probate judges like Lipton

The Michigan Probate Judges Association has honored state Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton as the group’s Legislator of the Year.

Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton

Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton

The MPJA recognized Lipton’s legislative efforts on behalf of children and the mentally ill.

Susan L. Dobrich, chief judge of the Cass County Probate Court and MPJA president, says:

[A] bill that she introduced earlier this year, HB 6046, would make it easier for courts to order treatment for mentally ill persons before they harm themselves or others. This is the kind of proactive approach we need.

Lipton, a freshman legislator, represents the 27th House District, which includes Berkley, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods and part of Oak Park in Oakland County.

She is vice-chair of the House Judiciary Committee and also serves on the House’s Energy & Technology, Tax Policy, and Insurance committees.

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Proposal protects estates and wills from abusers

The State House Senior, Health, Security and Retirement committee will meet next week to discuss a bill that would revoke benefits in wills and estates for people who abused, neglected or exploited a decedent.

The committee will meet at noon on Feb. 17 in room 308 of the House Office Building in Lansing.

Click here to read the bill.