Foster Care Review Board honors attorney, professor, judge

Three members of the State Bar were announced Thursday as recipients of the Foster Care Review Board’s 2011 Child Welfare Awards.

Department of Human Services Director Maura D. Corrigan presented the awards at the FCRB’s annual conference in Southfield.

Cheboygan attorney Donna Hansel received Lawyer-Guardian Ad Litem of the Year Award. Besides having represented children in foster care for eight years, she also is a licensed foster parent, having fostered more than 50 children.

Hansel’s nominator, Judge Robert John Butts of the Cheboygan County Probate Court, noted her “exceptional representation” of children, including efforts she made to find a permanent home for three young children whose parents died in a boating accident.

University of Michigan Law School Professor Vivek Sankaran was named Parent Attorney of the Year. He directs the Child Advocacy Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School, and also founded the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy.

And, Judge Leslie Kim Smith of Wayne County Circuit Court received the Jurist of the Year Award for her work as a family court judge. The FCRB cited the 24-year judge’s creation of an expedited reunification docket and parent orientation project, which helps increase the number of children reunified with their parents and reduce the time children spend in foster care.

Created by the Michigan Legislature in 1981, the FCRB serves as a statewide system of third-party review of the foster care system. It’s administered by the State Court Administrative Office, and is comprised of citizen volunteers who serve on one of 30 local review boards throughout the state.

Foster Care Review Board looking for a few good judges, attorneys

The Foster Care Review Board is seeking nominations for its annual Child Welfare Awards, which honor judges, lawyers, foster care workers, and foster parents for exemplary service to children in Michigan’s foster care system.

“The awards recognize those who protect, care for, and advocate for foster care children and their parents,” said James Novell, FCRB program manager. “These people have tremendous responsibilities, yet receive little, if any, recognition. The Child Welfare Awards were established to honor them and call attention to their difficult and demanding work.”

Categories include Jurist of the Year (judges and referees); Foster Care Worker of the Year, LGAL of the Year (lawyer guardians ad litem); Foster Parent of the Year; and Parent Attorney of the Year.

Deadline is Sept 15. Award recipients will be recognized at the Nov. 10 FCRB annual training conference. Nomination forms can be found at http://www.courts.michigan.gov/scao/services/fcrb/fcrb.htm.

The FCRB provides a third-party review of the foster care system, and is administered by the State Court Administrative Office.

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Appellate courts announce holiday hours

The Michigan Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and the State Court Administrative office have posted holiday schedules. The Court of Appeals has a slightly different schedule from the MSC and SCAO due to scheduled furlough days.

Michigan Supreme Court and SCAO
Closed Wednesday, December 24
Closed Thursday, December 25
Open Friday, December 26
Open Monday, December 29
Open Tuesday, December 30
Closed Wednesday, December 31
Closed Thursday, January 1
Open Friday, January 2

Michigan Court of Appeals
Closed Wednesday, December 24
Closed Thursday, December 25
Closed Friday, December 26
Open Monday, December 29
Open Tuesday, December 30
Closed Wednesday, December 31
Closed Thursday, January 1
Closed Friday, January 2

Upper Peninsula judge suspended for docket delay

The Michigan Supreme Court has suspended 41st Circuit Court Judge Mary B. Barglind for 30 days without pay for her self-admitted delays in deciding cases and failure to report the delayed cases to the State Court Administrative Office.

From the MSC’s order:

With no justifiable reason, respondent engaged in a pattern of delay in rendering decisions in matters submitted to her for review. In some instances, the delays exceeded two years. Respondent failed to respond over a several month period to numerous inquiries made by the State Court Administrative Office Regional Director regarding the status of various matters. On several occasions, respondent failed to report, as required by MCR 8.107, all matters which remained undecided for more than four months from the date submitted to respondent. After a January 2007 implementation plan was put in place, respondent failed to report all undecided matters to the State Court Administrative Office. Respondent’s failure to promptly dispatch her judicial duties constituted misconduct on the bench that was prejudicial to the administration of justice.

In ordering the suspension, the court referenced the Judicial Tenure Commission’s decision and recommendation of discipline, noting that Barglind consented to both the JTC’s fact-finding and recommended 30-day suspension without pay.

The JTC examined a dozen of Barglind’s cases and declared:

The standards of judicial conduct make clear that an important component of justice is the prompt dispatch of judicial duties. Through her unjustified delay and failure to cooperate with the SCAO, Respondent has failed in these responsibilities.

The commission concluded that Barglind committed judicial misconduct but the delays were not “premeditated or deliberate.” Barglind’s conduct was “more in the nature of neglect,” the JTC said.

The 41st Circuit includes Dickinson, Iron and Menominee counties in the Upper Peninsula.