MSC approves electronic signatures and notarization

The Michigan Supreme Court has amended MCR 1.109 to provide for electronic signatures and electronic notarization of signatures when necessary.

The Court added new subsection C, which provides:

(C) Signatures.

(1) A signature, as required by these court rules and law, means a written signature as defined by MCL 8.3q or an electronic signature as defined by this subrule.

(2) An electronic signature means an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.

(3) If a law or court rule requires a signature to be notarized or made under oath, the requirement is satisfied if the electronic signature of the person authorized to perform those acts, together with all other information required to be included by other applicable law or court rule, is attached to or logically associated with the signature.

(4) Retention of a signature electronically affixed to a document that will be retained by the court in electronic format must not be dependent upon the mechanism that was used to affix that signature.

Amended MCR 1.109 takes effect immediately.

The Court also amended MCR 3.204 – Proceedings Affecting Children. Under the amended rule, which takes effect Sept. 1, disputes concerning child support, custody or parenting time will be handled by motion practice whenever possible instead of filing a supplemental complaint.

The goal is to consolidate cases in a way that is more compatible with trial court case management systems.

Under an amendment to MCR 3.616, ex parte voluntary foster care petitions from the Department of Human Services must now indicate the youth’s race. The amendment, which takes effect Sept. 1, makes the rule consistent with MCL 400.655(a).

The Court declined to adopt proposed MCR 3.220, which would have required trial courts to set deadlines in domestic arbitration cases and would have allowed arbitrators to issue interim awards during the arbitration proceedings.

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MSC adopts new foster care court rule

The Michigan Supreme Court has adopted MCR 3.616 to implement the judicial action requirements of 2011 PA 225, the Young Adult Voluntary Foster Care Act, MCL 400.641 et seq.

Yesterday’s adoption of the new court rule makes the Department of Human Services eligible for federal funding of its new continuing voluntary foster care program for youth.

Both the new court rule and the DHS program take effect April 1. The Court has opened a comment period for the new rule, which will allow the Court to consider amending the rule based on comments received.

Comments on these proposals may be sent to the Supreme Court Clerk in writing or electronically by May 1, 2012, at P.O. Box 30052, Lansing, MI 48909, or MSC_clerk@courts.mi.gov. Refer to ADM File No. 2012-05.

In other orders released yesterday, the Court:

  • amended MCR 6.005 to clarify that trial counsel is required to make a defendant’s file available to an appellate lawyer, and is required to retain the file for at least five years after disposition of the case in the trial court. This file was prompted by reports of appellate counsel having difficulty obtaining trial materials (especially video or audio materials that were not transcribed as part of the transcript). The five-year period mirrors the five-year retention period contained in MRPC 1.15(b)(2).
  • amended MCR 3.211 to eliminate the requirement that the Supreme Court approve changes to the Uniform Support Order forms. Without explicit approval required by the Supreme Court, the forms will be updated like other forms that are revised on a regular basis within the State Court Administrative Office.
  • proposed amendments to MCR 5.801, 7.102, 7.103, 7.108 and 7.109. The proposed changes would require that all probate court appeals be heard by the Michigan Court of Appeals instead of some orders being appealed to the Court of Appeals and other orders being appealed to the circuit court. The amendments are backed by the State Bar of Michigan Probate and Estate Planning Section in conjunction with the Michigan Judges Association, Michigan Probate Judges Association, and the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Court is accepting comments on the proposed changes. Send comments to the Supreme Court Clerk in writing or electronically by May 1, 2012, at P.O. Box 30052, Lansing, MI 48909, or MSC_clerk@courts.mi.gov. Refer to ADM File No. 2011-30.
  • appointed Denise M. Kizy to the Court Reporting and Recording Board of Review for the unexpired portion of a term ending on March 31, 2013.