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Q & A with Judge Jennifer J. Manley, 67th District Court

By Katy P. Sanchez posted 06-01-2023 11:03


Judge Jennifer J. Manley was elected to serve on the 67th District Court in November 2014. Prior to taking the bench, Judge Manley was in private practice with the Manley Firm, PC, now Manley & Manley, where her primary practice area was criminal defense. Judge Manley spent the bulk of her career with the Genesee County Prosecutor's Office. The majority of her time was spent as a circuit court trial attorney. There she prosecuted hundreds of felony cases, including trying and winning some of Michigan's most notorious murder cases.


For attorneys who have never been to your court, what is your check-in process?

When you arrive in person for court, please check in at the window to the clerk’s office.  If you are appearing remotely, please make sure to log in with your name and case number.

When is your motion to call? Are there a maximum number of motions heard during motion call?

My civil motion call is every Tuesday at 10:00.  For criminal matters, my motion call is every Wednesday at 9:00.

Should proposed orders be submitted to the clerk before argument? Do you expect orders to be drafted in court, and if so, are there computers for drafting them?

Orders should be submitted to the clerk’s office before argument.  We do not have computers to draft orders in court.

How should stipulated orders be submitted?

Stipulated orders should be submitted to the clerk’s office.  It is very helpful if orders are also submitted by email.

Who makes up your judicial staff and what roles do they play?

My staff includes a judicial secretary, senior deputy district court clerk, deputy district court clerk, and a magistrate. The judicial secretary’s primary responsibility is as the court recorder for all court proceedings. She also handles all the scheduling, weddings, and oversees all of the Zoom court proceedings. The senior deputy district court clerk and the deputy district court clerk perform all of the clerical tasks of the court, including, but not limited to, maintaining the court calendar, data input and retrieval, serving the public by answering phones and working the counter at the court, and preparing case files. The magistrate is responsible for conducting informal hearings, handling arraignments, some small claims hearings, and dealing with many aspects of civil infractions.

What types of pretrial conferences do you hold and what happens at them?

I hold pretrial conferences and probable cause conferences (PCC) in person and by Zoom.  If nothing needs to be placed on the record, I also allow pretrials to be done by email if all parties agree beforehand. At the pretrial or PCC, I will inquire if there are any motions to be filed, if all discovery has been complied with, and if there is a resolution.  I will then set the next court date.

Are you still using Zoom? If so, what types of matters/motions are held via Zoom?

I allow the parties to come in person or by Zoom.  I find most attorneys do civil matters by Zoom.  With the exception of PCCs, most attorneys come in person for criminal matters.

What are some of the common mistakes/issues you see attorneys making when attending court via Zoom?

The most common Zoom mistakes that I see are not logging in with their name and case number, microphone not loud enough or muted, Internet service poor, not having necessary paperwork to the court beforehand, and not knowing if their client is logged on.

My advice for attorneys that use Zoom would be to contact the opposing party ahead of time so they can address any matters that they don’t need on the record, send in any documents they want the court to consider or sign beforehand, and explain to their client how to properly sign in to Zoom.

Any other common mistakes lawyers make in your courtroom?

Another common mistake is not having copies of documents for the court and opposing parties.

What are some components of an arguments (either in a brief or oral argument) that you find compelling or persuasive?

I find it compelling when an attorney clearly cites and states the law and clearly applies it to the facts of their case in brief or oral argument.

What procedural issues/disputes should be worked out between the parties before involving you?

I would like requests for adjournments to be discussed and stipulated to by the other side if possible.  The first question that will be asked when an adjournment request is made is, “Have you talked to the other party?”

What do you think is the most commonly misinterpreted court rule or rule of evidence?

The most commonly misinterpreted rule of evidence in my court is the hearsay rule.  It is important to remember that in order for a statement to be defined as hearsay, it has to be offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.

What is an example of a time a lawyer impressed you?

I am truly impressed by the ability of a skilled trial attorney to take complex facts and weave them into an interesting and understandable story when making their final arguments to a jury.

What is something interesting you do off the bench?

I have a keen interest in America’s great summer pastime. I don’t miss a pitch of my children’s baseball or softball games. I am also holding out hope that the Tigers will someday win a World Series again.

Is there anything else you would like Michigan lawyers to know?

In my courtroom, I draw on my experience as a prosecutor and being in private practice to provide a friendly and fair place to practice.