Michigan Adoption Day Nov. 22

Just in time for Thanksgiving, Michigan families from Houghton to Cassopolis will celebrate the addition of new family members through adoption on the ninth annual Michigan Adoption Day.

In an Oct. 26 resolution, the Michigan Supreme Court designated Nov. 22 as Michigan Adoption Day, declaring that the event’s goal is “to draw attention to children and youth in foster care, particularly their need for permanent, loving families, and also to promote efforts to help those who remain in foster care.” Michigan Adoption Day is co-sponsored by the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS).

Held each year on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Michigan Adoption Day is aimed at highlighting issues for children and youth in foster care, including their need for permanent, loving homes. About 30 of Michigan’s 83 counties are expected to participate this year, finalizing an anticipated 200 adoptions on or about Nov. 22.

In addition to local events, the Supreme Court and DHS will co-host a program at the Michigan Hall of Justice in Lansing. Governor Rick Snyder is slated to speak along with DHS Director Maura D. Corrigan and Chief Justice Robert P.Young Jr. The Hall of Justice event will include finalizations of adoptions for families from Ingham and Ionia counties.

The Hall of Justice is also hosting the Heart Gallery this month. The Heart Gallery, a photographic exhibit of Michigan children waiting to be adopted, is a project of DHS’ Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange.

Anyone interested in adopting a child may call toll-free (888) 200-4005 or visit www.adoptuskids.org. For Spanish, call toll-free (877) 236-7831 or visit www.adopte1.org.

For more Adoption Day information, see www.courts.mi.gov/adoption-day.

Source: The Michigan Supreme Court.

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U.S. District Court Judge Paul Borman spanks state on welfare cutoff

U.S. District Court Judge Paul Borman stopped the state from cutting off 41,000 on state support because the state didn’t give them the requisite 90 days of notice that their benefits were ending.

A federal judge accused the state of “sleight of hand” Tuesday and ordered a halt to Michigan’s plan to end welfare benefits to nearly 41,000 residents.

The state failed to give proper notice to those it planned to cut off, U.S. District Judge Paul Borman determined after a hearing Tuesday.

The stoppage is only temporary as the state need only give the proper notice of the new policy, which went into effect on October 1, before it ends benefits to those affected.

The judge’s order requires the state to send new notices that must include a copy of a policy that the state is using to justify the change.

The original Sept. 11 notices didn’t include the new policy, which wasn’t made public until Oct. 1 — long after the nine days recipients had to request a hearing for an exception to the unpublished new rules.

Borman granted class status to the people affected by the law.

Bills would streamline adoption process for foster care children

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Supreme Court Justice Mary Beth Kelly and Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura D. Corrigan have urged legislators to approve bills before both chambers that will streamline the adoption process for children in foster care. The passage of these bills could pave the way for expedited placement in qualified, permanent homes for more than 1,100 children.

Currently, the only person authorized to approve adoptions for children in foster care is the Michigan Children’s Institute (MCI) superintendent. Since April 2010, the MCI superintendent has received 1,100 such cases for approval.

Under the bills, the MCI superintendent, the legal guardian for children committed to MCI when parental rights have been terminated, may authorize a designee to provide written consent to the adoption, marriage, guardianship or emancipation of MCI wards. The designee would be allowed to authorize adoption requests where the child is already living in the recommended adoption home and a review by a caseworker and supervisor has determined there are no concerns about the placement.

Kelly said her experience as a family court judge convinced her that the bills are needed.

“No matter how good a job the MCI superintendent does, he or she is only one person, and it is simply unrealistic to expect one person to perform in-depth reviews of hundreds of these cases each year,” Kelly told legislators.

While finding a permanent, loving home for children in foster care is a key mission for DHS, Corrigan was clear that the expedited process will not sacrifice due diligence in the examination of potential adoptive families. The department will be systematic, careful and considerate when determining who will be named as a designee, Corrigan told members of the Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services committee.

“The best place for a child is in a stable, permanent home. That is our goal for each of the 4,150 children in foster care available for adoption. Joining a family should not be delayed because only one person in the entire state can authorize a child’s adoption or guardianship,” Corrigan said.

Among the bills’ supporters is the Michigan Probate Judges Association. In a March 15 letter to Sen. Judith Emmons, Judge Dorene Allen, chief judge of the Midland County Probate Court and chair of the MPJA’s Juvenile and Adoption Issues Committee, wrote that the legislation “will facilitate the permanency of children in the abuse and neglect system, certainly a goal we can all agree upon.”

Source: Michigan Department of Human Services

Veteran litigator/ADR expert, ex-SBM president Muth named Lawyer of the Year

On March 15, Jon R. Muth, the 60th State Bar of Michigan president and Grand Rapids-based litigator and mediator, was named Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s 2011 Lawyer of the Year.

At the “2011 Leaders in the Law” luncheon and awards ceremony at the Detroit Marriott in Troy, Lawyers Weekly Publisher Don Stemmermann said that Muth “stood out as someone who we believe represents everything that we would expect a Michigan legal leader to be.”

The event saluted 25 lawyers recognized by Lawyers Weekly for outstanding service to their profession and communities.

Muth said he was “humbled” by the honor, but told the audience of more than 300 attendees that he’d be remise if he didn’t remark “that none of us 25 honored here today, and none of the 25 honored in the prior year ever got here by ourselves.”

He added, “I stand here today on the shoulders of a great, great many people who have helped me get here, and I hope that when you consider your own career, you look back and recognize those who assisted you.”

Besides acknowledging his parents and wife, Muth mentioned Art Snell and John Cummiskey, the founding partners at Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey, P.L.C., where he’s practiced for 40 years; as well as Jim Robinson, George Googasian, Victoria Roberts, Tom Cranmer and Tom Kienbaum, who worked with Muth leading up to and during his 1994-95 presidency.

The 24 other “Leaders in the Law” honorees were:

• Lawrence G. Almeda, Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione, Ann Arbor

• George W. Ash, Foley & Lardner LLP, Detroit

• Gary August, Zausmer, Kaufman, August, Caldwell & Tayler, P.C., Farmington Hills

• Timothy A. Baughman, Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, Detroit

• Mark R. Bendure, Bendure & Thomas, Detroit

• Michael Cavanaugh, Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap, P.C., Lansing

• Hon. Maura D. Corrigan, Michigan Department of Human Services, Lansing

• Stephen R. Drew, Drew, Cooper & Anding, P.C., Grand Rapids

• Michael Fabian, Fabian, Sklar & King PC, Farmington Hills

• Clayton F. Farrell, Collins, Einhorn, Farrell & Ulanoff, P.C., Southfield

• James P. Feeney, Dykema Gossett PLLC, Bloomfield Hills

• David H. Fink, Fink & Associates Law, Bloomfield Hills

• Kenneth Gross, Thav, Gross, Steinway & Bennett, P.C., Bingham Farms

• Hon. Milton L. Mack Jr., Wayne County Probate Court, Detroit

• Lawrence C. Mann, Bowman and Brooke LLP, Troy

• Paul A. McCarthy, Rhoades McKee PC, Grand Rapids

• Lawrence D. McLaughlin, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP, Detroit

• Megan P. Norris, Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C., Detroit

• Tom R. Pabst, Tom R. Pabst P.C., Flint

• Gregory J. Parry, Eagle Risk Management Law Firm PLC, Beverly Hills

• T. Joseph Seward, Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, P.L.C., Livonia

• Patrick G. Seyferth, Bush Seyferth & Paige PLLC, Troy

• Norman D. Tucker, Sommers Schwartz, P.C., Southfield

• Douglas E. Wagner, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP, Grand Rapids

Look for a two-page photo story of the Leaders in the Law event in the March 28 edition of Lawyers Weekly.

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Leaders in the Law 2011 Announced

After a statewide call for nominees brought numerous worthy candidates, Michigan Lawyers Weekly has selected its 25 “Leaders in the Law” for 2011.

The honorees will be recognized in a special section to be published Feb. 28, and at the third annual Leaders in the Law luncheon, taking place March 15 at the Detroit Marriott in Troy. At the awards ceremony, Lawyers Weekly will reveal the 2011 Lawyer of the Year.

In selecting the 25 Leaders, a Lawyers Weekly editorial panel considered such details as:

• Possessing the ability to achieve success in his or her respective practice, while also displaying the strength of character that transcends results.

• Exemplifying the noble tradition of the legal profession, coupled with commitment to practicing law in Michigan.

• Being passionate and aggressive on behalf of both clients and the legal community.

• A record of winning cases, solving problems or coming to judicial conclusions that reflect the utmost integrity.

The 2011 roster reflects a diverse array of practice areas, from homeland security, consumer bankruptcy and asbestos litigation, to fire and explosion matters, Whistleblower Protection Act, and broker-dealer securities.

This year’s honorees are:

• Lawrence G. Almeda, Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione, Ann Arbor

• George W. Ash, Foley & Lardner LLP, Detroit

• Gary August, Zausmer, Kaufman, August, Caldwell & Tayler, P.C., Farmington Hills

• Timothy A. Baughman, Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, Detroit

• Mark R. Bendure, Bendure & Thomas, Detroit

• Michael Cavanaugh, Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap, P.C., Lansing

• Hon. Maura D. Corrigan, Michigan Department of Human Services, Lansing

• Stephen R. Drew, Drew, Cooper & Anding, P.C., Grand Rapids

• Michael Fabian, Fabian, Sklar & King PC, Farmington Hills

• Clayton F. Farrell, Collins, Einhorn, Farrell & Ulanoff, P.C., Southfield

• James P. Feeney, Dykema Gossett PLLC, Bloomfield Hills

• David H. Fink, Fink & Associates Law, Bloomfield Hills

• Kenneth Gross, Thav, Gross, Steinway & Bennett, P.C., Bingham Farms

• Hon. Milton L. Mack Jr., Wayne County Probate Court, Detroit

• Lawrence C. Mann, Bowman and Brooke LLP, Troy

• Paul A. McCarthy, Rhoades McKee PC, Grand Rapids

• Lawrence D. McLaughlin, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP, Detroit

• Jon R. Muth, Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey, P.L.C., Grand Rapids

• Megan P. Norris, Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C., Detroit

• Tom R. Pabst, Tom R. Pabst P.C., Flint

• Gregory J. Parry, Eagle Risk Management Law Firm PLC, Beverly Hills

• T. Joseph Seward, Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, P.L.C., Livonia

• Patrick G. Seyferth, Bush Seyferth & Paige PLLC, Troy

• Norman D. Tucker, Sommers Schwartz, P.C., Southfield

• Douglas E. Wagner, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP, Grand Rapids