Q & A with Judge Marcy A. Klaus, 17th District Probate and Family Court

By Cindy M. Huss posted 01-02-2019 08:47

  


Judge Marcy A. Klaus was elected to the Probate and Family Court for the 17th District in November 2012. Her docket includes probate, family, and juvenile matters. She splits her time between the Clare County courthouse (Harrison) and the Gladwin County courthouse (Gladwin). A native of Clare, Judge Klaus practiced family and probate law in a firm with her father and husband before becoming a judge. Judge Klaus serves on the Executive Committee of the Michigan Probate Judges Association and is President of the Central Michigan Judges Association. 

What are the best and worst things a lawyer can do in your court?

We have a very busy docket, and we run a tight schedule so that we can serve the needs of the community. The best thing a lawyer can do is to come early, have the client come early, and be checked in early so we can begin on time.

The worst thing obviously is to not be prepared and ready to go when your case is called. Make sure you know your client, have talked to him or her ahead of time, and are prepared to efficiently and effectively handle the hearing on behalf of the client.

What role does your clerk play?

I do not have a law clerk, but the probate registrar, juvenile registrar, and court clerks assigned to me in Clare County and Gladwin County are always available to answer procedural questions.

When are written appearances required?

Always.

When is your motion call?

Monday is motion call for family cases, and Wednesday is motion call for probate court. Every motion gets assigned a half-hour time slot. In complex cases, the attorney can request more time for argument, but extended time is not given lightly. Attorneys must be prepared and focused at oral argument. 

When is a brief required?

The pretrial order will generally specify a due date for trial briefs. Otherwise briefs are not required unless I specifically ask for one. However, filing a brief in support of your motion is always helpful and the better practice.

When and how do attorneys request an adjournment?

I will consider adjournments if stipulated to by the parties for good cause, but I am very reluctant to grant them. Lawyers can file their stipulation or motion. If the request is made by motion, the court clerk can offer dates and times for hearing. If the reason is another hearing in another court, I ask that the attorney identify the conflicting court, case, and case file number in the motion for adjournment.

What happens at a settlement conference?

The attorneys must bring someone with settlement authority. I do not participate directly in a settlement conference unless the attorneys ask me to help with a specific issue. If I do help, it is always on the record. I never meet with attorneys in chambers.

I also encourage mediation, particularly in contested divorce cases. We refer the parties to the Community Resolution Center in Saginaw, which can provide a mediator at a very reasonable flat fee payable by each party. In complex cases, the attorney may ask to use a private mediator.

How are trials scheduled?

The court clerk sets the trial dates. The clerk will try to coordinate dates with the attorneys if possible. Our courtroom in Harrison does not have a jury box, so for jury trials, we have to coordinate scheduling with the circuit court. That obviously gives us less flexibility in scheduling or coordinating the scheduling.

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