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Judge Cynthia Stephens, Retired, served on the Michigan Court of Appeals for 14 years. Judge Stephens was the first African American woman to be appointed to the state Court of Claims bench and served as a judge for Michigan’s Third Circuit Court and the 36th District Court. Her many contributions include serving at the State Bar of Michigan as commissioner and chairing its Justice Initiatives Committee, Communications Committee and Children’s Task Force, and the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth M. Welch currently serves as the Justice Liaison on data gathering and transparency in the civil, criminal, ...
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Hon. Celeste Bell was appointed to the 7th Circuit Court bench to fill a vacancy in 2018 and was elected to a full term that November. She currently serves on the court’s Civil-Criminal Division. Before becoming a judge, she worked as a staff attorney with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, deputy city attorney for the city of San Francisco, assistant corporation counsel for Genesee County, and chief assistant prosecuting attorney in the civil division of Genesee County’s prosecuting attorney's office. When is your motion call? Are there a maximum number of motions heard during motion call? Monday is motion day for my court. Attorneys ...
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Honorable B. Chris Christenson III joined the 7th Circuit as a Family Division judge in January 2021. Previously, he practiced in the areas of criminal defense, business and contract litigation, real estate and construction law, general civil litigation, and probate administration. Active in the State Bar of Michigan (SBM), Judge Christenson served on its board of commissioners from 2007 to 2010 and was recently reelected for a term expiring in 2023. He is also a member of the Centennial American Inn of Court and the Friends of Berston Field House's board of commissioners. Judge Christenson is a past president of the Genesee County Bar Association, a former chair ...
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Hon. Carol Anne Kuhnke was elected to her judgeship in 2012 and took the bench in 2013. She is currently the Chief Judge of the Washtenaw County Trial Court and 14A District Court. She hears civil, criminal, adoption, and parental waiver cases, and she started and presides over Drug Treatment Court. Prior to her judgeship, she worked in large and small firms before founding the law firm of Davis & Kuhnke PC in 1997. She worked in civil litigation for 19 years before becoming a judge. Judge Kuhnke has been active in numerous legal and community organizations. She belongs to the American Judges Association, Michigan Judges Association, Michigan Association ...
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Hon. Cynthia Meagher Arvant is a judge for the 46th District Court. Before her appointment to the bench, she served in various roles for the 46th District, including research attorney, magistrate, and court administrator. Judge Arvant was also previously an assistant attorney general. She is a member of the National Association of Women Judges, the State Bar of Michigan, the Michigan District Judges Association, the Women's Bar Association, Oakland Region of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, the Oakland County Bar Association, and the Oakland County District Judges Association (past president). She also serves as chairperson of the State Court Administrative ...
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Hon. Phyllis C. McMillen is the presiding judge of the civil-criminal division of the Oakland County Circuit Court. Judge McMillen previously served as a judge of the 51st District Court in Waterford. She is the past president of the Michigan District Judges Association and the Oakland County District Judges Association. In 2005, Judge McMillen received a Special Recognition Award from the Executive Office of the President, Office of National Drug Control Policy, for her pioneering work in creating sobriety courts. She is a lecturer, contributing author, and faculty member for various state and national organizations. Judge McMillen serves on various executive ...
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Hon. Jon A. Van Allsburg is chief circuit judge for the 20 th Circuit Court in Ottawa County, Michigan, where he is assigned to the Family Division and Business Court. He spent more than 20 years practicing law before joining the bench and has taught business law at both Grand Valley State University and Hope College. Judge Van Allsburg has served in the Family Violence Department of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and is a former president of the Michigan Judges Association. He is an honors graduate of the Michigan State University College of Law. For attorneys who have never been to your court, what is your check-in process? ...
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Hon. Elian E. H. Fichtner was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to the 70-2 District Court in Saginaw County in April 2018. Before her appointment, she was in private practice for 12 years with Smith Bovill, PC, focusing on probate and estate planning with an emphasis on elder law and elder care issues. In 2021, Judge Darnell Jackson, Chief Judge of the Saginaw County Trial Courts, appointed Judge Fichtner to serve as Presiding Judge of the 70th District Court. Judge Fichtner currently runs the Saginaw County Mental Health Court and has served on a number of boards and commissions throughout the state of Michigan and Saginaw County. She is a member of the Probate ...
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Judge Jacob James Cunningham was elected to the bench in November 2018. He currently presides over a family division docket. Prior to his election to the bench, Judge Cunningham was a judicial clerk for the Hon. Wendy Potts and a staff attorney for the Hon. Mary Ellen Brennan. He is a member of the Oakland County Bar Association. Judge Cunningham is also a member of the American Judges Association, Michigan Judges Association, Incorporated Society of Irish American Lawyers, Armenian American Bar Association, International Association of LGBTQ+ Judges, Eastern District of Michigan Federal Bar Association, Michigan Inter-Professional Association, and the Michigan ...
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Judge Shauna Dunnings was elected to the bench in 2018. She previously served as the circuit court administrator in the county, starting in 2013. In 2007, she became the Friend of the Court and deputy court administrator. In 2003, she became assistant Friend of the Court and attorney referee in Eaton County. She served as law clerk for Hon. Gordon J. Quist of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan for one year and was in private practice for 13 years. For attorneys who have never been to your court, what is your check-in process? Attorneys may come into the courtroom, and my law clerk or court recorder will check them in. If the ...
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​ Judge Monte J. Burmeister was elected to the bench in 2007 after engaging in general civil and criminal practice for 12 years. He is a graduate of the Trial Lawyers College and a Paul Harris Fellow. He is a past president of the Michigan Probate Judges Association and a commissioner on the Judicial Tenure Commission since 2013, serving as its chair in 2019 and 2020. He currently presides over a variety of cases, including criminal misdemeanors and civil cases under $25,000, felony preliminary examinations, decedent’s estates, child custody disputes, and abuse and neglect of children cases. For attorneys who have never been to your court, what is your ...
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The Hon. Charles S. Hegarty was appointed to the 3rd Circuit Court (Wayne County) in 2013 and was assigned to the Domestic Relations Section of the Family Division. Since January 2021, he has served in the Civil Division. He joined the court from Bodman PLC, where he spent 15 years litigating civil actions and represented clients in commercial, real estate, tort, and trusts and estates matters. In 2013, he was recognized as a Michigan “Super Lawyer” in Business Litigation. Judge Hegarty is a fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation and a member of the State Bar of Michigan and the Detroit Bar Association. Are you still using Zoom? If so, what types of matters/motions ...
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Judge Mariam Bazzi was appointed to the Wayne County Circuit Court in 2017 after working as an assistant prosecutor in Wayne County for more than eleven years. She currently handles criminal cases and oversees a Mental Health Court docket. An active member of her community, Judge Bazzi currently chairs the court’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. For attorneys who have never been to your court, what is your check-in process? If they're physically appearing in court, they would check in with the clerk and let the clerk know if their client is there. If they have another courtroom or another matter that they need to take care of, they should let the clerk ...
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The following is from our July 2020 interview of Judge Denenfeld. What are the main procedural changes in your courtroom due to COVID-19? We are only doing remote hearings now, but no trials. We use Zoom for most of our hearings and still do weekly block scheduling for our criminal cases. That means we have blocks of time for status conferences, which often result in plea agreements. We are a busy court, so we have many cases that are docketed for the same time. In criminal hearings, we use Zoom breakout rooms to enable defense attorneys to have privileged discussions with clients regarding plea offers. On the civil side, we are still hearing and deciding ...
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Judge Karen Quinlan Valvo was appointed to serve as Chief Judge of the 15th District Court for the City of Ann Arbor for the term beginning January 1, 2022. This interview was conducted after Judge Valvo was appointed to the 15th Judicial District Court bench by Governor Rick Snyder on January 5, 2016, and elected on November 8, 2016, to complete the term. She presides over criminal, traffic, and landlord-tenant cases and the specialized Mental Health and Veterans Treatment Court dockets. We spoke to Judge Valvo in August of this year about changes in her courtroom in the wake of COVID-19. What are the main procedural changes in your courtroom ...
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Magistrate Judge Elizabeth A. Stafford joined the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in 2014. Judge Stafford previously worked at a private law firm, as a career law clerk for Judge Victoria A. Roberts, and as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Read Judge Stafford’s original Q&A from 2018 here . What are the main procedural changes in your courtroom due to COVID-19? The main change is that there are no proceedings in a physical courtroom right now; everything is done via Zoom. The courthouse remains closed to the public and court employees (including judicial officers) are teleworking for all duties except those that ...
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My colleagues and I recently spoke to three of the judges we previously interviewed for our Approaching the Bench blog series: Magistrate Judge Elizabeth A. Stafford of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Judge Karen Quinlan Valvo of the 15 th District Court of Washtenaw County, and Judge Paul Denenfeld of Kent County Circuit Court. We wanted to check in to see how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their respective courtrooms. As expected, all of the judges had a lot to say about the biggest procedural change in response to COVID-19: Zoom hearings. Below are the judges’ thoughts on the most common mistakes attorneys make ...
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​ Hon. Kathleen M. McCarthy is presiding judge of the court's Family Domestic Division. She has served on the Wayne County Family Court bench since 2001 and was named the presiding judge in 2013. What advice do you have for attorneys navigating the new discovery rules? There have been many changes to the discovery rules effective January 1, 2020. Most notably, family law cases only allow 35 interrogatories to be served on the opposing party, unless increased with court permission. MCR 2.301(B)(4) requires the serving party to initiate discovery with enough time for a response to be submitted (usually 28 days), before the discovery cutoff ...
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Judge Zainab Baydoun is a Senior Administrative Law Judge for the State of Michigan, presiding over complex, multifaceted administrative hearings for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Bureau of Community and Health Systems. Cases may involve adoption subsidies and the Juvenile Guardianship Assistance Programs, Medicaid disability, eligibility trusts and divestment , state disability assistance, requests for expunction from Michigan’s Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry, and Child Welfare Licensing. For attorneys who have never been to your court, what is your check-in process? Most of my hearings are held at Cadillac Place in Detroit. ...
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Hon. Hala Y. Jarbou is the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. Judge Jarbou was commissioned on September 23, 2020 and became chief judge in July 18, 2022. This interview was conducted when Hon. Hala Y. Jarbou was an Oakland County Circuit Court judge. Judge Jarbou was appointed judge of the Oakland County Circuit Court in 2015, assigned to the civil/criminal division. Before her appointment to the bench, she was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Department of Justice from 2010 to 2015, and an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in the office of the Oakland County Prosecuting Attorney, from 1997 to 2010. Judge Jarbou was ...
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