DNA testing is ordered in Flint judge’s paternity case

An Oakland County judge has ordered DNA testing to determine whether Genesee County Circuit Judge Archie Hayman is the biological father of the children of a Flint attorney.

Mlive reported that Judge Cheryl Matthews also rejected a motion from Hayman’s attorney to seal records in the case, and suggested Hayman and Flint attorney Denise Ketchmark keep their focus on the two children at the heart of the complaint.

Ketchmark claims Hayman, an outspoken advocate of the role of fathers in their children’s lives, neglected and failed to support Ketchmark’s two children before and after signing affidavits of parentage for each.

Her lawsuit seeks more than $4 million in damages and support.

Matthews ruled against a motion from Hayman’s attorney to seal records in the case from public view.

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Ex-Flint mayor sues city over $4.5M judgment

Ex-Flint Mayor Don Williamson is suing over a demand that he pay $4.5 million awarded to police officers who claimed race was a factor in promotions to a special unit in 2006.

The Flint Journal/Mlive reported that a status conference is set for Oct. 15 in U.S. District Court for the lawsuit, which also demands back wages.

The city said the lawsuit is without merit and has asked that the case be dismissed.

The Citizens Service Bureau was later disbanded, but not before 48 officers sued the city and Williamson in state and federal court. The case went before arbitrators, who ruled in favor of the officers and awarded them $3.8 million. The money owed grew with interest, and Flint wants Williamson to pay.

Williamson resigned in 2009 while facing a recall election.

SADO assistant defender analyzes her SCOTUS argument

Valerie Newman, assistant defender at the State Appellate Defender Office in Detroit, will reflect on how she prepared for and successfully argued Lafler v. Cooper at the Supreme Court of the United States.

Her “A View from the Podium: Reflections on a Supreme Court Argument” presentation is 12:15 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, at the Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit.

In Lafler, Newman convinced a 5-4 majority that a defendant who receives ineffective advice that results in rejection of a plea offer and conviction at trial, may be entitled to relief from the sentence after conviction.

In the years leading up to the country’s high court, Newman — who was honored recently as one of Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s 2012 Women in the Law — said that the state courts were not willing to address the matter as a Sixth Amendment ineffective assistance of counsel argument. Instead, they wanted to blame the defendant.

Admission to the presentation is free, and lunch will be served. Learn more at http://law.wayne.edu.

State Bar’s 78th president takes the wheel

After Grand Rapids litigator Bruce Courtade took oath as 78th president of the State Bar of Michigan on Sept. 20 at DeVos Place, he emphasized that bar dues would not be raised under his watch*.

Bruce Courtade (right) acknowledges the crowd after being sworn in as 78th State Bar of Michigan president by Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young Jr.

Why? “Because Jenny will kill me,” he said to a roomful of laughter. He was referring to his wife, Jenny DeLessio, who also is an attorney.

All kidding aside, Courtade said he’s ready to lead the 2012-13 year by moving forward with the SBM’s strategic plan, and with what has been recently put into place.

He noted that the SBM’s Solutions on Self-Help Task Force has gotten SCAO-approved forms accessible via the web for people who can’t afford a lawyer to take to court. The Q&A-style forms are in fourth-grade English and will help in uncontested divorces and PPOs.

Courtade also said that the recommendations from the Judicial Crossroads Task Force initiative will continue to work for funding for legal aid providers and advocating for indigent defense issues. He noted that a House bill for indigent defense has gotten 77 co-sponsors as it goes to a vote this coming week, and he’s hopeful it will receive similar reception in the Senate

And, as he told Michigan Lawyers Weekly in a recent article, he wants to push for civics education in schools, and making citizens aware of the Constitution and their constitutional rights. To show his seriousness on that, he made sure a copy of the U.S. Constitution was on each table at his swearing-in luncheon.

“I’m not a constitutional scholar,” he said. “I carry the Constitution with me at all times to remind me why we do what we do. … It’s the words that are contained in it that makes our more perfect union more perfect.”

Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Michael Riordan announces Dana Warnez as the newly sworn in chair of the Representative Assembly.

Right next door, at the Representative Assembly, Dana Warnez was sworn in as its 2012-13 chair, with Court of Appeals Judge Michael Riordan leading the proceedings. The RA also elected Vanessa Williams as its new clerk.

*As an earlier blog post noted, SBM dues actually have been reduced.

Get ready for dues, eJournal changes at State Bar

While only a fraction of State Bar of Michigan members are going to be at the SBM annual meeting in Grand Rapids today and tomorrow, Executive Director Janet Welch noted that something’s happening today that affects all members: dues invoices are going out.

State Bar of Michigan Executive Director Janet Welch addresses attendees at the kickoff of the ICLE 2012 Solo and Small Firm Institute, held in conjunction with the SBM meeting in Grand Rapids.

And, for the first time since 2004, there will be a change in the dues amount.

“Your dues are going down,” she said at her annual welcome and report at the kickoff of the ICLE 2012 Solo and Small Firm Institute, held in conjunction with the SBM meeting at DeVos Place.

This is thanks to a recent Michigan Supreme Court order that called for the decrease of the disciplinary portion of annual dues effective this bar year by $10, something the Representative Assembly has historically lobbied for (only the high court can set dues amounts). This time around, the Supreme Court acted on this on its own.

“We are below the national average in our dues, and I think we can make a good case that we are giving you more for your money than other states’ bar associations,” said Welch, who pointed to two examples for the coming year.

One of the most popular member benefits is the daily eJournal case summary email, which Welch said has summarized almost 50,000 cases since it was launched in 1999 as the first electronic daily case summary service in the country. This year, the eJournal added CaseMaker, which allows SBM members free access to its legal research software, and new features have been added to it based on what members asked for – such as faster search results with a more intuitive interface, personalized search history and customizable folders.

Then there’s the Practice Management Resource Center, the SBM’s online resource for solo and small firm management, which has refreshed a lot of its content thanks to the encouragement of outgoing State Bar President Julie Fershtman, who formed a task force last year seeking for ways to improve it. Resources in financial management, calendaring, client relations, marketing, best practices and disaster policies, record retention and IOLTA have been updated, and a new library of law-related e-books via the Overdrive software is about to launch.

In addition, Welch said that a new mentoring database, the JobTarget Mentor Board, is being developed to bring seasoned Michigan attorneys together with new ones.

That’s something that’s going under the watch of incoming SBM President Bruce Courtade, who will be sworn in later today. Check with the Michigan Lawyer blog later today for more on that.

Based on past numbers, will SBM’s 2013 Lansing meeting be a bust or a blowout?

In two days, the State Bar of Michigan will open the doors at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids for its Annual Meeting and Solo & Small Firm Institute. And in looking at the below numbers for the past 10 years’ attendance, it’s apparent that Furniture City has been a popular destination for the event. So far, this year looks no different.

Now, it could be because the West Michigan legal delegation doesn’t have to drive so far, or maybe it’s that out-of-town attendees get a chance to take a working vacation (there’s some little thing called ArtPrize going on out there).

When the meeting’s been in Dearborn, at the now-in-limbo Hyatt Regency, the numbers have been healthy, too. Last year, in fact, was the State Bar’s strongest turnout in 10 years.

But what’s telling is that when the meeting was held in Lansing in 2003-05, attendance didn’t even break the 1,000 mark. Take a gander:

• 2002 — 1,362, Grand Rapids

• 2003 — 907, Lansing

• 2004 — 935, Lansing

• 2005 — 843, Lansing

• 2006 — 1,107, Ypsilanti

• 2007 — 1,351, Grand Rapids

• 2008 — 1,326, Dearborn

• 2009 — 1,387, Dearborn

• 2010 — 1,289, Grand Rapids

• 2011 — 1,467, Dearborn

• 2012 — 1,060 registered as of Sept. 17, with an estimated 1,300-1500 total registration, Grand Rapids

And guess where it’s taking place next year? Yep. Our capital city.

Logistically, meeting its members halfway, so to speak, isn’t a bad idea. It’s only about an hour’s drive from either Grand Rapids or Dearborn, and as the membership numbers show, the majority of members are practicing in either Kent County or the metro Detroit area.

Though there’s no concrete data explaining why turnout in Lansing was so low last decade (even Ypsilanti got better numbers in its 2006 stint), State Bar spokeswoman Samantha Meinke has a sunny disposition on next year. In the eight years since the last Lansing meeting, she said that downtown’s Lansing Center, where the 2013 meeting will be, has undergone a major structural transformation.

“We’re hoping that’s going to make a big difference in our numbers,” she said.

As it’s looking now, incoming State Bar President Bruce Courtade has a sizeable audience once he takes the oath Thursday. We’ll just have to wait and see if Brian Einhorn can say the same when he’s sworn in as 2013-14 president.

Amway drops suit against Oregon eBay sellers

A federal lawsuit that Amway and parent company Alticor filed in June against an Oregon couple has been dropped, Mlive reports.

The Grand Rapids direct-sales giant accused Brian and Natalie Schirle, of Bend, Ore., of acquiring Amway and Alticor products from employees and distributors, then reselling them on eBay.

Among Amway’s grievances were: the products allegedly sold through the couple’s online auctions came with a limited return policy; products were repackaged; and buyers were encouraged to send proof of purchase tabs to get free product from the company.

According to the suit, customers “indicated that they were confused as to whether products sold by the Schirleses were genuine or not,” and disgruntled customers associated their frustration with Amway.

In addition, Mlive reported, “Amway contended the eBay sales aren’t protected under first-sale doctrine because the products were acquired from employees and distributors in violation of company policy. First-sale doctrine gives people who make a legal purchase the right to resell a product without obtaining the permission of the rights holder.”

Terms of the settlement are confidential.

In other eBay-related news, the online auction giant’s new logo is boring.