Q & A with Judge Elizabeth L. Gleicher, Michigan Court of Appeals

By Maximillian (Max) H. Matthies posted 10-03-2019 08:52


Judge Elizabeth L. Gleicher was appointed to the Michigan Court of Appeals in 2007. Previously, she was an attorney in private practice for 27 years. She began her career at Goodman, Eden, Millender & Bedrosian in Detroit, and opened her own litigation practice in 1994. Judge Gleicher is an elected Fellow of the International Society of Barristers (2004) and the American College of Trial Lawyers (2005). She received the Respected Advocate Award from the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel in 2005 and the State Bar of Michigan Champion of Justice Award in 2001. Judge Gleicher has served on the faculty of ICLE and as an adjunct professor at Wayne State University Law School. She received her undergraduate degree from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and her JD from Wayne State University Law School. Her term expires January 1, 2025.

Michigan Court of Appeals
3020 W Grand Blvd Ste 14-300,
Detroit, MI 48202-6020
Main: (313) 972-5646

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

The judges on the Michigan Court of Appeals rotate motion responsibilities. We sit as three-judge panels for substantive motions; each panel serves for one month. The panels are drawn from a single district and are randomly assigned. As a Second District judge, I review motions originating in my district.

Approximately 12–20 motions are submitted to each of four motion panels each week. Most are applications for leave in civil cases; approximately one-third are applications for leave from guilty pleas in criminal cases. The commissioners in each district help us decide these motions by preparing reports summarizing the facts and arguments.

Do you have any particular briefing requirements? What sort of arguments in a brief do you find compelling?

The briefing requirements in the court of appeals are spelled out in the Michigan Court Rules. Because motion filers are seeking to gain entry to our court, the best briefs begin with a brief introductory statement addressing the reasons that interlocutory relief is necessary.

In regular appellate briefs, I am a fan of introductions. An introduction should not be longer than one page, in my view, and should be as informational as it is argumentative. It helps when a brief writer uses the introduction to preview the central legal issue so that the reader has some intellectual context while reading the statement of facts.

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

MCR 2.116(C) is responsible for a lot of our “business” in the court of appeals. Viewing the evidence and the pleadings in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party is a frequently overlooked requirement. Practitioners also sometimes neglect to protect the record by filing all documents and discovery materials that bear on the legal question under consideration. It is far safer to overdo it than to neglect filing a deposition transcript or medical record that may make the difference.

Any other common mistakes lawyers make in your courtroom?

Most of the practitioners in the court of appeals are true experts in their work, and I don’t presume to tell them how to do their jobs! It helps when lawyers supply the texts of the statutes at play in their cases (the Attorney General’s Office does this routinely, and I am a huge fan). It also helps if important exhibits are attached to the briefs or filed with the appendix so that each judge on the panel has access to them.

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

Each court of appeals judge has a judicial assistant and one law clerk. Our judicial assistants keep us organized for our case calls and motions, prepare orders, file opinions, and work with the law clerk to make sure that the flow of work through the chambers is unimpeded. My law clerk and I discuss every case that I am assigned to write and decide which of us will have primary responsibility for the draft opinion. My clerk reviews and edits everything I write!

When and how do attorneys request an adjournment?

Motions for an adjournment of a case scheduled for argument are addressed to the panel scheduled to hear the case. To avoid disappointment, lawyers should notify our clerk’s office of planned vacations and trials.

When should my client come to court? Do you allow telephonic appearances?

We welcome clients in our court, but do not allow telephonic arguments.

Do you have any advice for new lawyers?

Before your first argument in the court of appeals, spend a few hours watching the pros, either by attending an argument or by watching Michigan Supreme Court arguments (accessible on their website). If a new lawyer has any questions about practice in our court, our clerk’s office is a terrific resource.

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

Good writing impresses me. I am a huge fan of lawyers who carefully edit their work to present issues crisply and persuasively—and manage to make it interesting, too.

What is something interesting you do off the bench?

I love to hike and to travel to great hiking sites. In September I am heading to Portugal.

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

The court of appeals hears and decides more than 2,000 cases per year. We have a hard-working staff of clerks and research attorneys who help make this happen. Appeals take time, but once the lower-court record is complete and available, things move swiftly in our court. When delays are encountered, it usually means that the judges disagree and are crafting careful opinions and dissents in the hope that the supreme court will resolve our differences.