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.

Kilpatrick dodges hearing – for now

  Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has gotten a repreive from the Michigan Court Of Appeals, which halted his Friday probation violation hearing, reported The Detroit Free Press:

The ruling also put on hold, at least temporarily, an arrest warrant signed [Thursday] by Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner for Kilpatrick after he failed to make a $79,011 court-ordered restitution payment stemming from his criminal case along with additional allegations that he failed to give a “complete and accurate accounting” of his wife’s finances.

 The warrant also alleges that Kilpatrick failed to surrender all his tax refunds and did not account for all his gifts and benefits, including the $240,000 lent to him by various business leaders, including Peter Karmanos, Roger Penske, Dan Gilbert and Jim Nicholson.

 Nonetheless, the appellate judges had words for Daniel Hajji, one of Kilpatrick’s attorneys, after Hajji argued this week in court filings that his client

 In the motion to stop the proceedings, Hajji wrote Tuesday that the former Detroit mayor has to maintain an upper-crust lifestyle in Texas because he is trying to sell computer systems to “the privileged and the affluent.”

 Appellate Judge Karen Fort Hood wrote that Hajji’s filing is “unconscionable and does not merit serious consideration.”

 The warrant was requested by the state Department of Corrections and Kilpatrick’s probation officer.

 Additionally, the warrant says Kilpatrick did not turn over his state and city pension, as required by his 2008 plea agreement.

  There was no time frame given for a resolution, but you can bet this case his the highest priority and will be adressed immediately, if not sooner.

Kwame up the river – again?

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was ordered back to court Friday by Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner to address probation violation for non-payment of restitution.

According to The Detroit Free Press:

Groner also opened the door for prosecutors to address allegations of additional probation violations. Prosecutors have contended that Kilpatrick has repeatedly violated probation by lying about his finances and hidings his assets with his wife, Carlita.

“Your client is to be here Friday at 9 a.m. and at that point there will be a warrant that will be completed,” Groner told Kilpatrick’s lawyers. “We’ll arraign your client on that warrant, and we will proceed to a hearing sometime after that.”

The Michigan Department of Corrections sent a report to Groner on Monday showing that Kilpatrick had not met the judge’s Friday deadline to make a $79,011 payment toward his $1-million restitution. However, the former mayor came up with $14,048 on Friday and $21,125 on Monday.

Seems the 35 grand came from some “warm hearted people” according to Michael Alan Schwartz, one of Kilpatrick’s lawyers, who also noted that the mayor is pretty much destitute and if he doesn’t have the cash, how can he be in violation of the probation terms.

That old saw, however, is growing old with Groner who, just two weeks ago was regaled with tales of extradordinary amounts of money – several hundred thousand – going through the hands of the Kilpatrick  family.

But alas, Kilpatrick argues, that was then and this is now.

Anyone got spare change for a one-way plane ticket to Detroit lockup?

Kilpatrick hearing mercifully closes

Closing arguments on the Kwame Kilpatrick restitution case start today, signaling the beginning of the end of this particular ring in the Detroit political circus.

A decision is expected by Jan. 20 – not a day too soon.

DETROIT (AP) — Closing arguments in the restitution hearing of ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick are scheduled to start in Wayne County Circuit Court.

Kilpatrick’s attorney has said his client’s $6,000 monthly payment to Detroit should be halved because he makes less money as a salesman for Dallas-based Covisint than he did when that amount was set.

Kilpatrick already has made several $3,000 payments.

Prosecutors are expected to argue that Kilpatrick has not been truthful about his finances.

Judge David Groner says he will issue his ruling Jan. 20.

Mayor Bing, union headed to court after talks stall

From The Detroit News:

Mayor Dave Bing and the city’s largest union remain deadlocked over contract concessions and the standoff is returning to court.

Last week, officials with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees sued the city in Wayne County Circuit Court, claiming Bing’s staffers haven’t supplied much of the information the union requested on the concessions. Among the missing documents are how much Detroit would save from some of Bing’s proposals, such as eliminating daily overtime and reducing paid time off, union officials said.

Bing wants the union to take a 10 percent pay cut through 26 furlough days and accept a host of other changes to offset the city’s estimated $300 million budget deficit. Union officials say they know the city is financially strapped but argue they can’t justify all the concessions without the numbers that back up the savings.

Mary Beth Kelly criticized as her appointment set to expire

From the Metro Times, several Wayne County judges and departments are apparently displeased with the leadership of Chief Circuit Judge Mary Beth Kelly, whose appointment as Chief Judge expires at the year’s end.

Critics of Kelly — who came to the bench as an appointee of Republican Gov. John Engler in 1999 — sometimes characterize her policies as part of an effort by outstate conservatives to control leaders in the more liberal Detroit. They say some of her actions reflect the region’s longtime inability to come to terms with racial issues. She’s not making the correct, albeit difficult, decisions about how to effectively manage governmental operations with limited dollars, they say. And she should be stopped.

"I say Mary Beth Kelly has got to go," Detroit City Councilwoman Brenda Jones told one gathering held to "learn about the injustices taking place in our court system."

Defenders in the story call her fair-minded and say that her biggest problem is that she “came to power in an unusual way.