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Michigan Supreme Court Orders The  Michigan Supreme Court  has now issued six significant orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which are summarized below by topic. Remote Proceedings AO-2020-6 , dated April 7, 2020, authorizes judicial officers to conduct court business and proceedings remotely using two-way interactive videoconferencing technology or other remote participation tools. Those remote procedures must be consistent with a party’s constitutional rights; enable confidential attorney-client communications; allow public access to the proceedings, either during or immediately after via a video recording, unless the proceeding ...
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On March 30, 2020, the Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) issued two bulletins interpreting Governor Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order 2020-21. Executive Order 2020-21 states that some workers in the financial services sector are considered critical infrastructure workers—those workers who may continue to perform in-person work. DIFS Bulletin 2020-11-BT/CF/CU provides guidance on the specific industries included within the term financial services as used in Executive Order 2020-21: banks, credit unions, and consumer financial service providers (e.g., mortgage companies, money transmitters, payday lenders, consumer installment ...
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Vanessa Crocetto is the Chief Marketing Officer at Butzel Long. She recently answered some pressing questions on how her firm is responding to COVID-19. 1. How is Butzel responding to the pandemic? We have set up a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center on our website for our clients and communities. Our attorneys are becoming experts in this area fast, and frankly, I’m very impressed with their ability to get good, meaningful information disseminated quickly.  Butzel is also responding to the pandemic by implementing remote working continuity planning. We were able to get almost all of our staff and attorneys seamlessly rolled over to a work-from-home ...
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Greg Kish , a probate and estate planning attorney in Traverse City, spoke to me about how his practice is responding to COVID-19. He talks about the unique ways his office is adapting to continue serving their clients and some of the challenges they have faced. Transcript: John: Hello, this is John Swift. Max: And this is Max Matthies. John: We're two of the staff attorneys at ICLE. We're talking to other Michigan attorneys about how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them and their clients. Max: We thought it might be helpful to share how our colleagues and their firms are responding to the COVID crisis and provide some insight on how ...
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Alfredo Casab , from Dawda Mann Mulcahy & Sadler PLC in Bloomfield Hills spoke to John Swift and I about how his practice is responding to COVID-19.  You can hear the conversation by clicking the audio player.  The transcript of our conversation is below. Transcript John: Hello, this is John Swift. Max: And this is Max Matthies. John: We're two of the staff attorneys at ICLE. We're talking to other Michigan attorneys about how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them and their clients. Max: We thought it might be helpful to share how our colleagues and their firms are responding to the COVID crisis and provide some insight on how you might ...
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Ryan Kelly  from Kelly &  Kelly PC in Northville spoke to John Swift and I about how her practice is responding to COVID-19.  You can hear that conversation by clicking the audio player. Below is a transcript of our conversation. TRANSCRIPT JOHN: Hello, this is John Swift. MAX: And this is Max Matthies. JOHN: We're two of the staff attorneys at ICLE. We're talking to other Michigan attorneys about how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them and their clients. MAX: We thought it might be helpful to share how our colleagues and their firms are responding to the COVID crisis and provide some insight on how you might do the same. RYAN: ...
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Angela Walker is a founding partner at Blanchard & Walker PLLC . Angela handles severance negotiations and career strategies for her clients. She has extensive experience with equal pay, sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and disability rights cases. Here, Angela shares some of her thoughts on practicing during this time, as well as her analysis of some of the biggest issues facing employees. How is COVID-19 impacting your practice right now? How is your office handling meetings? As of last week, we moved everyone off-site, and we have switched over to doing phone and video consults. Fortunately, our firm already had the technology in ...
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​The  Michigan Supreme Court  has issued four significant orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. AO 2020-4 , dated March 26, 2020, suspends deadlines for all appellate filings beginning March 24, 2020, to correspond with Governor Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe”  executive order . Deadlines are tolled until the executive order expires on April 13, or until a subsequent executive order “extends the period in which citizens are required to suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.” Filers will have the same number of days to file after the executive order expires as they would have before it was effective. The MSC provided ...
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As Michigan deals with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s recent order for nonessential workers to Stay Home, Stay Safe , it is no surprise that small businesses are worried about the impact on their future. For attorneys who represent small businesses or attorneys who own small businesses, there is some available relief. The Michigan Strategic Fund Board approved the creation of the Small Business Relief Program. This program will “provide up to $20 million in support for small businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19.” The funding will be divided equally between grants and loans to support the rapid decline of cash flow for these small businesses. For more ...
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Susan S. Lichterman is a partner at Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss, PC, and leads the Family Law Group. She recently answered some of the most pressing questions for family law attorneys. How is your office handling meetings?   As things change by minute, the alterations to my practice and the firm are changing by the minute as well. Last week, all attorneys and paralegals were encouraged to work from home. Many of us regularly work remotely and we all have laptops for this purpose. Our secretaries were initially assigned to in-person shifts so that we would have a few people in the office each day to handle filings and emergencies. We have spent ...
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​ Ray Cassar of The Law Offices of Raymond A. Cassar PLC has handled many high-profile criminal cases. He recently answered some of the most pressing questions for criminal defense attorneys. How does Governor Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order affect your practice? The executive order is geared toward maintaining social distancing. Most criminal attorneys generally have a smaller office with fewer employees. The health and well-being of my staff is very important. Nonessential staff have been told to stay home; however, because my office handles many felony cases, we need to have someone taking calls—especially to deal with those clients that ...
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James Fink , of Fink & Fink PLLC, a small firm in Ann Arbor that handles a broad range of matters, recently answered a few questions about how COVID-19 has affected his firm and his practice. 1.   How is COVID-19 impacting your practice right now? How is your office handling meetings? We have implemented reduced hours for part-time staff. The attorneys are mostly working remotely.  We have canceled all client meetings for the office and are either conducting meetings virtually or delaying meetings. 2.   Which clients are contacting you the most and what issues are they raising?        We are hearing from our municipal clients and landlords. Our ...
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As lawyers and law firms work to adapt to the new reality created by the COVID-19 national emergency, questions are emerging in a number of practice areas. ICLE is talking with contributors to get you the most current information and help you navigate these unprecedented challenges. Tiffany Buckley-Norwood , of Jackson Lewis , recently answered some of the most pressing questions for employment lawyers. How is COVID-19 impacting your practice right now? How is your office handling meetings? As a part of my practice, I have always been fairly mobile, so working away from my office and at home is not new to me.  The K-12 schools being closed for ...
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Trial by Combat

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​ Trial by combat may not just be a “judicial process” in lieu of a standard trial in the popular HBO show Game of Thrones . Some feel that “ based on an obscure loophole , the U.S. might actually permit this archaic form of justice.” Though trial by combat has not been explicitly banned or restricted in the United States, it would arguably violate other parts of the Constitution such as due process and cruel and unusual punishment. David Ostrom of Kansas is attempting to push the bounds of this pseudojudicial process. On January 3, 2020, Ostrom requested that an Iowa judge grant his request for trial by combat to settle his custody dispute with his ...
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Judges and lawyers across Michigan are grappling with the big civil discovery rule changes that went into effect January 1, 2020. After a few months with the new rules, practitioners are feeling some growing pains. I heard from several ICLE contributors about their experience under the new rules, the opportunities they see, and the challenges they’re facing. Compliance concerns No one expected the process to integrate seamlessly overnight, but Bernie Fuhs , a shareholder at Butzel Long, has been surprised by the confusion. He notes that some practitioners are simply not following the new rules; for example, some are continuing to send discovery requests ...
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The SECURE Act

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​ The SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) was passed by Congress with an effective date of January 1, 2020. Pub L No 116-94 . The purpose of the act was to make it easier for small employers to offer retirement savings plans and to increase the types of employees eligible to contribute to those plans. However, the act also changes the required minimum distributions (RMDs) from inherited retirement accounts. This effectively ends the stretch IRA for certain beneficiaries and replaces the stretch with a 10-year pay-down period. The new law creates a class of beneficiaries called “eligible designated beneficiaries” (EDBs). These ...
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Winter is long in Michigan, and despite February’s having the fewest days, it feels like the longest month. A family friend rates each day in February in terms of whether she won or February won. What gets me through February is anticipating the ABA TECHSHOW , held every year in Chicago toward the end of winter. This year’s TECHSHOW is February 26 to 29. The first TECHSHOW launched in 1986. For some context, in 1986, the Compaq Deskpro 386 launched, 300,000 fax machines sold, and there were 3.9 million private email subscribers. TECHSHOW is in its 34th year, and it will be my 5th (or 6th) year attending. It gets bigger each year, and there is always a lot to ...
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​ For those clients who are concerned about access to an older loved one in the care of another relative, the Estates and Protected Individuals Code has provided a new tool. EPIC has been amended to allow the probate court to appoint a limited guardian to ensure access to an incapacitated individual. MCL 700.5306(6) provides, effective March 10, 2020, that if the following points are proven by clear and convincing evidence, the court may appoint a limited guardian to supervise visitation with the incapacitated person: The individual is incapacitated. The person who has the care and custody of the incapacitated individual denied another person access ...
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There is no question that the opioid crisis affects Michigan residents. In 2018, of the 2,599 drug overdose deaths in Michigan, 2,036 were opioid related. On December 17, 2019, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a complaint in Wayne County Circuit Court against Cardinal Health, McKesson Corporation, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, and Walgreens under the Drug Dealer Liability Act, MCL 691.1613 et seq. , for their alleged role in the opioid crisis in Michigan. The complaint alleges that the defendants distributed and sold opioids in ways that facilitated and encouraged their flow into the illegal secondary market; distributed and sold ...
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Some unique assets are relegated to a small group of people—airplanes, trains, yachts. But what about a potentially overlooked asset that many of us have—frequent-flyer miles? A recent post on the Elder Law and Disability Rights Section Listserv got me thinking, What happens to frequent-flyer miles when clients die? Can they bequeath them in a will? Transfer them to another’s account? The answer depends on the individual airline and how it handles the frequent-flyer mile balance of someone who has died. Several helpful online articles break down the policies of the major U.S. airlines, but for the most part you are subject to the contractual terms of the ...
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