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Aside from prison time, the Sex Offenders Registration Act ( SORA ) is one of the most significant consequences that can result from a criminal sexual conduct conviction. Beginning March 17, 2019, there is another serious consequence: that conviction could become evidence in a subsequent hearing or trial. Under amended MCL 768.27b ( see 2018 PA 372 ), other acts evidence of prior sexual assault will be admissible “for any purpose for which it is relevant.” Sexual assault in this context means any tier I, II, or III offense under SORA. MCL 768.27b(6)(c) (referencing MCL 28.722(j) ). Of course, evidence of prior sexual assaults could also ...
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If you enjoy long walks along the shores of the Great Lakes, you may have been following Gunderson v Indiana . The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to hear the Gundersons’ appeal, which asked the Court to decide where the public’s right to walk along the shoreline of the Great Lakes ends and where private property owners’ rights begin. The questions presented in the petition framed the issue as unique in the context of large “non-tidal lakes with extensive beaches,” distinct from oceans and rivers or small inland lakes. The case arose when lakefront property owners along Indiana’s Lake Michigan shoreline challenged an ordinance that defined ...
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​ Judge Julia B. Owdziej was appointed to the Washtenaw County Probate Court in 2014. She currently serves as Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Division. She holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Michigan State University and a Juris Doctor from the Detroit College of Law. Judge Owdziej began her legal career as an Assistant Michigan Attorney General. She began serving the citizens of Washtenaw County in 1991 as an Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecuting Attorney. In 1999 she was appointed a Washtenaw County Trial Court Referee and later added the duties of Washtenaw County Juvenile Drug Court Referee and Deputy Probate Register. When is your ...
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A New Trust Direction

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​ Effective March 29, 2019, “trust directors” will replace “trust protectors” under EPIC, thanks to legislation drafted by James Spica. 2018 PA 663 imports the Uniform Directed Trust Act (with some changes) into EPIC at MCL 700.7703a. The purpose of the UDTA, according to Mark Harder, is “to bring some order and certainty to the law governing . . . trust protectors, trust advisors, or trust directors, . . . arrangements [with] the common feature of granting someone other than a trustee a power over some part of the administration of a trust.” MCL 700.7703a changes the scope of the trust protector’s (to become the trust director’s) duties to trust beneficiaries ...
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Yes, I’m Blushing

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Yes, I’m Blushing   Freckles and shyness. That combination pretty much guarantees blushing accompanies many of my communications. People often feel the need to tell me I’m blushing, sometimes to undermine my message, or maybe to alleviate my discomfort. Maybe my blushing is making them feel uncomfortable. Early in my career as a lawyer, I discovered it worked pretty well to say, “Yes, I blush all the time for any and all reasons, so please don’t let it bother you.” In 2012, I began to more truly understand and embrace my blushing self when I read an amazing book. I highly recommend Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking ...
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Jeff Bezos , the founder and CEO of Amazon, recently announced that he and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie Bezos, are splitting. Bezos is currently the world’s richest person , with an estimated net worth of $136.2 billion. The announcement has raised many questions, including the possible division of assets and stocks. It was recently reported that the couple had neither a prenuptial agreement nor a postnuptial agreement. If the parties do not have some sort of agreement, the division of assets will likely be determined by a private mediator or by the court. The standards of property awards differ depending on the jurisdiction. The Bezoses will ...
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About four years ago, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and wrote about my takeaways here . Essentially, I concluded that while I don’t subscribe to some aspects of the KonMari method , I definitely think decluttering is incredibly cathartic. I suggested that “[a]n uncluttered physical space really can inspire a new outlook.” A few weeks ago, Marie Kondo popped back into my life, this time via her Netflix show, Tidying Up . My six-year-old took one look at her and was completely mesmerized, so we watched the show together. About halfway into the first episode—as the TV family dumped every single item of their clothing into one giant ...
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​ While you were looking in your closet to find that one spangled top, the legislature was passing, and making immediately effective, changes to the certificate of trust. Before the new legislation, there were two certificates under the law, a certificate of trust recorded in connection with an instrument that conveys, encumbers, or otherwise affects real property (pursuant to MCL 565.431, .434, and .435) and a certificate of trust authority and existence that could be provided to any person other than a trust beneficiary (under MCL 700.7913). The new legislation aligns these two certificates by repealing MCL 565.432, .433, and .436 and amending the requirements ...
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Judge Karen Quinlan Valvo was appointed to the 15th Judicial District Court in January 2016. She presides over criminal and traffic cases and the specialized Mental Health and Veterans Treatment Court dockets. What is the worst thing a lawyer can do in court? An attorney who is not truthful in presenting his or her client’s case jeopardizes not only the results for the client, but loses credibility. A close second is routinely appearing late for a docket, thereby inconveniencing the court, the client, and the opposing party. What is the best thing a lawyer can do in court? An attorney who comes to court on time, having kept his or her client ...
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If you’ve ever attended the winter Perchville festival in the small city of Tawas, Michigan, your first thoughts are probably of polar bear plunges and ice fishing, not intellectual property rights. But it turns out a lesson in trademark protection can be found right along the shores of Lake Huron in the picturesque town. In a dispute between a local trading post and the Tawas Area Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed that the term Perchville is inherently distinctive and afforded protection under the Lanham Act. For decades, the Tawas Area Chamber of Commerce organized the annual Perchville festival each ...
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A few years ago, my partner came home from one of her professional conferences and told me she walked around the conference with impostor syndrome . I had never come across the term before, but I immediately knew what it meant. It perfectly named that feeling I had whenever I went to court on a new case, met with a new client, or went to any lawyer event where I didn’t know anyone. For me, impostor syndrome is the sense that I don’t belong, am not as sharp as everyone else in the room, and am going to be found out as a fraud. Impostor syndrome has diminished for me as I’ve gained more experience as a lawyer, but it still comes up when I’m doing something ...
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The federal government has been operating under a partial shutdown since December 22, and approximately 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or are being required to work without pay. If the shutdown lasts past January 11, it will have been the longest since a 21-day furlough in December 1995 and January 1996. Unsurprisingly, the shutdown significantly impacts federal court operations. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts estimates that, using its own funds, it can sustain paid operations until January 18. If funds run out and new appropriated funds are not available, the judiciary will operate under the terms of the Anti-Deficiency ...
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Marijuana is legal! ( Not really , but kind of at the state level under certain circumstances .) Undoubtedly you will have a variety of people say this to you in the coming months. A burning question that might follow: can my (friend’s) possession conviction from college now disappear? Proposal 1, enacting the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act , had no provisions for criminal expungement. (The expungement clause was axed  from the original proposal.) Of course, the legislature could choose to add them at a later date. More immediate relief may come from Governor Gretchen Whitmer , who has hinted at the possibility of clemency. But ...
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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 ...
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The Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) filed a lawsuit against Harvard in 2014 under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act , which bars intentional discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, or national origin at colleges and universities that receive federal funds. SFFA specifically alleged that Harvard’s undergraduate admissions process discriminates against Asian Americans. Michael Wang is one of the Asian American students who is involved in the lawsuit. When Wang graduated, he had a 4.67 GPA, placed in the 99th percentile on the SAT, and even performed at former president Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. Wang was rejected from ...
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​ While trials have certainly been on the decline for the past several years, the summary jury trial may be just the thing to breathe new life into a dying litigation tool. What is a summary jury trial? If you have not already heard, it is a “binding jury trial, typically conducted in a single day before a panel of six jurors and presided over by the assigned judge, a judge appointed by the court, or a special hearing officer selected jointly by the parties.” Here are some of the key features of the summary jury trial: Discovery is conducted on an expedited basis. Documentary and witness limitations are imposed. There is no court assigned court reporter, ...
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At the recent ICLE Elder Law Institute I met one of the Elder Justice Initiative lawyers from the Crime Victims Legal Assistance Project (CVLAP). The CVLAP is a statewide program with attorneys across Michigan. The Elder Justice Initiative provides free legal help to people age 55 years or older who have experienced, or are at risk of, abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Free legal services are available regardless of income. Funding for this initiative is provided under a grant from the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). VOCA is funded through federal offender–generated revenue. Elder Justice Initiative services include getting protection orders, connecting ...
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Hon. Patrick J. Conlin, Jr. Washtenaw County Circuit Court 101 E. Huron St. Ann Arbor ,  MI   48104 Phone: (734) 222-3399 Fax: (734) 222-3362   Hon. Patrick J. Conlin, Jr., was elected by voters in 2014 and took the bench on January 2, 2015. He is assigned family law cases, personal protection orders, and juvenile court backup. He previously worked at the law firm of Keusch and Flintoft, PC, focusing his practice on family law matters, probate and general civil litigation, and transactional work. Judge Conlin is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, the American Bar Association, and the Washtenaw County Bar Association (past president). ...
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My son, Isaac, and I recently put together the computer kit he got for his sixth birthday. The computer is designed to help kids learn to code, but it also comes with a few fun games installed, including (nostalgia alert!) Pong . We quickly learned that this particular version of Pong was surprisingly challenging. As Isaac tried to get the hang of it, I headed upstairs for a few minutes. Soon I started hearing jubilant exclamations from downstairs: “I’m winning! I’m winning! Come see!” I thought, “It’s official. My son is a genius. He became a Pong expert in 11 minutes. Parent of the Year contest judges, look no further!” Delighted, I headed down and ...
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The passage of Proposal 1 has cleared the way for legal adult use of marijuana in the state. The new law takes effect 10 days after the official declaration of the vote (which will probably occur around mid-November). At that point it will be legal, at least under state law, for people at least 21 years old to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana on their person and up to 10 ounces as long as it’s locked up at a residence, and they can grow as many as 12 plants in their home. Of course marijuana remains a Schedule 1 controlled substance at the federal level, so there are still legal risks. What is perhaps more consequential is that the new law provides ...
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