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​ Everyone uses online reviews to make decisions about everything—from choosing a restaurant to picking out a new appliance. The same is true with consumers of legal services. A potential client is much more likely to hire a lawyer with a five-star average as opposed to one with only three stars. And it only takes one disgruntled client to bring that high average down. Managing your online reputation can be tricky, especially because reviews are usually couched in the form of an opinion. However, claiming something is an opinion doesn’t necessarily make it so. The key to suing for defamation, according to lawyer Justin Kelton in When Leaving a Bad Review ...
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In 2016, the Michigan Legislature enacted the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act (WICA), 2016 PA 343 , allowing individuals convicted and imprisoned “for 1 or more crimes that he or she did not commit” to seek compensation to the tune of $50,000 for each year of imprisonment. MCL 691.1751-.1757 . ICLE contributor Dave Moran was involved in WICA’s drafting process, but he states that the act has “ not worked as it was intended .” One of his critiques—that sufficient money had not been allocated to actually pay compensation—has been rectified in 2019 PA 10 , which allocated $10 million to the compensation fund. Before this allocation, several claims ...
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I have three children, ages 8, 5, and 11 months. I am regularly dazed by the amount of information they have access to, literally in the palms of their hands. Gone are the days of going to a library and finding a card catalog, Readers’ Guides to Periodical Literature (I loved those), or an encyclopedia. Information is a search term and keystroke away. There are over 3.5 million Google searches conducted every minute of every day. And the amount of information is growing at an exponential rate . However, over time, much of what we think we know changes and loses its value. Samuel Arbesman states in his book The Half Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know ...
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What's in My Water?

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When I was a kid, we lived in Muskegon for a while, which was home to the Sappi Fine Paper Mill. I clearly remember waking up many mornings to the stench of that mill, built directly upwind of the city. Sappi was finally shut down in 2009 and is now a brownfield project that is being redeveloped as a mixed-use residential waterfront complex . They even named it Windward Pointe, as if to finally acknowledge the poor location for a smokestack belching toxins into the community. Generally, air and water quality have improved over the last 20 years. The issue now seems to be just how long some of the chemicals we produced for so long actually take to biodegrade. ...
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What’s in My Water?

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When I was a kid, we lived in Muskegon for a while, which was home to the Sappi Fine Paper Mill. I clearly remember waking up many mornings to the stench of that mill, built directly upwind of the city. Sappi was finally shut down in 2009 and is now a brownfield project that is being redeveloped as a mixed-use residential waterfront complex . They even named it Windward Pointe, as if to finally acknowledge the poor location for a smokestack belching toxins into the community. Generally, air and water quality have improved over the last 20 years. The issue now seems to be just how long some of the chemicals we produced for so long actually take to biodegrade. ...
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Charlene M. Elder has served as a judge for the Wayne County Third Circuit Court since 2005. She currently sits in the Family Division of the court, handling a variety of domestic relations cases involving divorce, child custody, and personal protection matters. Judge Elder is one of three judges who helped initiate the Domestic Violence Prevention Court, designed to offer a wide range of services to victims of domestic violence who obtain personal protection orders against their perpetrators. When is your motion call?  Wayne County motion call day is Friday; however, I will hear motions on other days of the week as well. The number of motions ...
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It finally happened. Effective June 11, 2019, the legislature amended the No-Fault Act, MCL 500.3101 et seq., via 2019 PAs 21 and 22 . Here at ICLE, we’re bustling to create new and updated resources to help you navigate these changes. In the meantime, it may be helpful to read what some of our contributors have had to say so far about the amended act: New Michigan No-Fault Law Passes: What You Need to Know . Steven Gursten of Michigan Auto Law posted this helpful piece summarizing the salient changes before the act was even signed by Governor Whitmer.  Navigating the Chaos: The New No-Fault Legislation . Partners at Sinas Dramis, George ...
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We all knew that big changes to the Michigan Court Rules on civil discovery were coming, and ready or not they’re here now! The Michigan Supreme Court adopted the amendments on June 19, 2019, with an effective date of January 1, 2020. The SBM Civil Discovery Rule Review Special Committee developed these broad amendments with an eye toward modernizing the discovery process and improving efficiency and access to justice . The amended rules parallel many of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on discovery, including mandatory initial disclosures, a requirement that discovery be proportional to the needs of the case, and a seven-hour limit on depositions. ...
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Last year I wrote about the emerging tort of “ reproductive negligence ,” designed to compensate plaintiffs for destruction of frozen embryos, ineffective vasectomies, and other acts that rob them of their “ ability to determine the conditions under which to procreate .”  But the tort realm is hardly the only legal area where assisted reproductive technology issues arise. Consider a recent New York case in which the judge allowed parents to retrieve their unmarried 21-year-old deceased son’s sperm. The judge later ruled that the parents could use the sperm for reproductive purposes. While the deceased had not provided written consent before his death, his ...
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​ Effective March 29, 2019, Michigan has a new legislative scheme for separating trustees’ powers, duties, and liabilities. 2018 PA 662 added MCL 700.7703b to the Michigan Trust Code. This new section allows the duties of distribution and investment to be assigned to a separate trustee or trustees and provides for a “resultant trustee” to have any remaining powers, duties, and liabilities. Michigan is in the forefront of trust law with this new legislation. No other state has a similar provision. Some features of the legislation include the following: Separate trustees are generally not cotrustees (but see MCL 700.7703b(2)(c)). If a trust has a ...
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In 2017, several class-action lawsuits were filed on behalf of Flint residents over the Flint water crisis, which involved dangerous levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water. U.S. District Judge Judith E. Levy consolidated the various class-action suits into one major case, In re Flint Water Cases. Flint Water Cases involves 13 claims brought by 12 people and three businesses against 27 defendants. The initial defendants included the State of Michigan and then governor Rick Snyder. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), challenging the court’s subject-matter jurisdiction. In August 2018, Judge Levy ...
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Hon. Lita Masini Popke has been a judge in Wayne County Circuit Court since 2000, with a combined docket of general civil and business court cases. Her prior service includes chief judge pro tem (2009-2013); executive committee (2005-2013, 2016-present); presiding judge, family division (2005-2007); and Mediation Tribunal Association board member. Judge Popke has also held various positions outside the court, including president of the Michigan Judges Association (MJA) (2013); cochair of the MJA civil and business law committee; member, Judicial Section of the State Bar of Michigan (2009-present); member of the Child Support Leadership Council by appointment ...
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Remember that movie Double Jeopardy ? Ashley Judd’s character chases down her husband after he framed her for his murder. When she finally confronts him, she brandishes a gun in his face and tells him that she could publically shoot him and no one could touch her. Tommy Lee Jones, ever the law enforcement official, enters the scene and confirms that she can’t be retried for her husband’s murder because of the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment. Even if you weren’t a lawyer when the movie opened in 1999, you probably knew there was something wrong with its legal conclusions. Indeed, aside from the fact that the murders would have been two separate ...
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​ The good news is that the legal industry has hit a post-recession high, adding approximately 1,600 jobs in March. The year 2018 was reportedly the U.S. legal industry’s best for financial growth in the last 10 years. So what are the hot areas for legal job growth for 2019? Energy, cannabis, cybersecurity, and complex litigation, according to the RMN Agency’s January 2019 blog and Aebra Coe’s blog “ The 3 Hottest Practice Areas for 2019 .” Cybersecurity: This area continues to grow because it impacts just about every other industry and company. As the number of data breaches increases, so, too, will the need for legal professionals with data privacy ...
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Be True to Your Voice

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The recent attention to Elizabeth Holmes’s low-pitched voice brought to mind the voice lessons I received in my first year in private practice. Back then, the managing partner at my firm offered me the opportunity to participate in a weeklong voice program in New York City, followed by work with a speech pathologist, because, I presume, he wondered whether the pitch of my voice was negatively impacting my credibility with judges and clients who had not dealt with female lawyers. What I learned at this program was fascinating and fairly easy to apply, and it quickly made such a difference. It didn’t take long for my presentations in court and communications ...
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Right to Repair

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My mother-in-law’s refrigerator broke last week. It was only a year old and one week out of warranty, which meant the repair would run about half the cost of a new unit. At the last minute the manufacturer decided to extend her warranty and make the whole thing right. Of course if that hadn’t happened, her next step would have been a third-party repair shop. Imagine if doing that was just not an option. With some products and industries, it is nearly impossible or cost prohibitive to repair a product yourself or have it repaired by a third party. In this situation, the manufacturer has the consumer over a barrel and can inflate repair costs to the point where ...
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Chief Judge Kathleen M. Brickley Van Buren County Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Brickley is the chief judge of the Van Buren County courts. She was appointed to the 36th Circuit Court bench in 2012 and elected that year to a six-year term, serving in the criminal division. From 1990 to 2012, Judge Brickley was in private practice in Kalamazoo. She is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, chair of the Van Buren Community Corrections Advisory Board, cochair of the Michigan Judges Association Criminal Committee, and a member of the Michigan Judicial Institute Academic Advisory Committee, the Michigan Drug Treatment Court Advisory Committee and Policy ...
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Brevity in branding isn’t new. Examples of this are all around us—from KFC’s origins as Kentucky Fried Chicken to Dunkin’ Donuts’ recent trim down to just Dunkin’. And while the legal industry isn’t known for the speed with which it adopts trends in the marketplace, law firm name rebranding seems to be well upon us. A recent article on The American Lawyer website points out that we don’t really choose what we’re called. Mintz Levin was being called “Mintz” long before the firm made the formal shift and changed their logo. Here in Michigan, it likely wasn’t Honigman or Dykema that decided to refer to their firms by a single name. Instead, a law firm’s abbreviated ...
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Driving While High

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The Impaired Driving Safety Commission was established by 2016 PA 350 to research and recommend a threshold THC bodily content for per se impaired driving. In March 2019, the commission issued its report . The Commission reviewed the thresholds imposed by other states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana and examined the science of THC absorption and metabolism as well as the behavioral effects of cannabis. The report explained the difficulties of assessing measured blood THC levels and impairment given differences in cannabis ingestion methods and drug tolerance issues: The consequence of these results for setting per se limits is that ...
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The name is a portmanteau of iPod and broadcasting. Podcasts actually started in 2004 , but they are becoming more and more popular. According to the 2019 Infinite Dial , 70% of the U.S. population is familiar with the term podcast , and 51% have at least listened to a podcast. However, for those people who do not listen to podcasts , 37% do not understand what a podcast is, 48% are not sure how to listen to a podcast, 65% say there are so many podcasts, they don’t know where to start, and 80% think they do not have a podcast app on their phone. If you are one of those people who do not listen to podcasts, here are five things you should know: ...
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