Thank you to all authors and assistant editors for making this a great issue, and to Referee Larissa Zubac (Ingham) for contributing this issue's Feature Article. Enjoy!
Please check our website for ANNOUNCEMENTS, UPCOMING EVENTS, and other helpful resources.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
BY KATE WEAVER (OAKLAND)
Happy New Year Referees! 2024 promises to be an exciting year, and in many ways, represents a fresh start and advancement for our organization. To start the year off, make sure that you have renewed your membership. The 2024 RAM application is available now. Our small membership fee covers many benefits including our website: https://www.referees-association.org/ Membership fees also help to support the publication of the RAM Quarterly, organizing and maintaining a robust legal discussion on our listserv, and our annual conference. Being a member of RAM provides you with access to a network of colleagues across the state. The resources our organization provides help us provide support to one another.
In other RAM news, our organization has been approved as an accredited organization by the Michigan Continuing Judicial Education Board to provide required training to our members. Judicial officers are required to achieve twenty-four (24) hours of continuing education with two years, so our term runs from January 1, 2024 to December 31, 2025. 12 hours of the 24 hours are allowed to be virtual while the other 12 hours are required to be in person. Each judicial officer should have received an account log in to track their hours from CE Brokers. If you have not, please reach out to Jonah Sjoquist (firstname.lastname@example.org ).
by larissa zubac (ingham county)
The Michigan Supreme Court is blazing trails with implementation of its most recent amendment to MCR 1.109(D)(1)(b). Now, when addressing parties to an action, “Courts must use the individual’s name, the designated salutation or personal pronouns, or other respectful means that are not inconsistent with the individual’s designated salutation or personal pronouns when addressing, referring to, or identifying the party or attorney, either orally or in writing.” The rule further specifies that preferred forms of address may include Ms. Mr. or Mx., as the parties or counsel prefer, and pronouns shall include he/him/his, she/her/hers, or they/them/theirs. Michigan is the first state to enact such a court rule. MCR 1.109(D)(1)(b). The Rule passed by a 5-2 vote, and went into effect January 1, 2024.
The change creates space for counsel and parties to provide the court with their preferred pronouns and salutations. “Our courts and court staff must conduct business in a way that is cognizant of changes in language and societal norms. The amendments to MCR 1.109(D) reflect that basic truth and acknowledge that with changes in our society, our vocabulary also evolves. In order to be fair and impartial, courts, as the face of the third branch of government, must conduct business in a way that does not give the appearance of misgendering individuals, intentionally or otherwise. . .” stated Justice Welch in her concurring opinion regarding the rule. MCR 1.109(D) (Welch, J., concurring).
BY PETER KULAS-DOMINGUEZ (KENT)
The following are pending proposed changes to Michigan Court Rules:
ADM File No. 2023-34: Proposed Amendment of MCR 3.967
This proposed amendment of MCR 3.967 would align the rule with MCL 712B.15, as amended in 2016, to clarify the applicability of qualified expert witness testimony in a removal hearing involving an Indian child. This ADM was issued on January 24, 2024, and the comment period expires May 1, 2024.
The relevant proposed changes can be found via this link:
ADM File No. 2023-36: Proposed Amendments of MCR 3.937, 3.950, 3.955, 3.993, and 6.931
The proposed amendments of MCR 3.937, 3.950, 3.955, 3.993, and 6.931 would implement 2023 PA 299 and incorporate additional changes from the SADO/MAACS Youth Defense Project regarding requests for and appointment of appellate counsel in cases involving juveniles. This ADM was issued on January 24, 2024, and the comment period expires May 1, 2024.
The relevant proposed changes can be found via this link:
BY RYAN O'NEIL (OAKLAND)
Barretta v. Zhitkov, _____ Mich App _____, ______ NW2d ______, 2023, (Docket No. 364921, 365078). Oakland County
Mother and Father have one minor child. Pursuant to the parties’ 2016 judgment, they were awarded joint legal and joint physical custody of the minor child with a week-on/week-off parenting time schedule. The parties had a contentious post-judgment co-parenting relationship and in 2022 a guardian ad-litem (“GAL”) was appointed.
The Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court erred by not first holding an evidentiary hearing before changing custody. While the orders were titled as “temporary,” the Court of Appeals found that these orders had the practical effect of modifying Mother’s custody and parenting time. The trial court also failed to make findings as to change in circumstance/proper cause, the established custodial environment, or best interest findings.
BY TRACEY MARTIN (WAYNE)
JUVENILE CASELAW UPDATE
by Tracey Martin (Wayne County)
CASE: In re NC, Minor, ____ Mich App____ (November 21, 2023), No. 361548, Alger Circuit Court, Family Division LC No. 20-004569-DL Respondent-Appellee
COURT: Michigan Court of Appeals (FOR PUBLICATION)
JUDGES: GLEICHER, SWARTZLE, and YATES
Motion to suppress; Whether a juvenile in a school or a principal’s office is in custody for purposes of the Miranda v Arizona warnings; People v Mayes; JDB v North Carolina; In the Matter of DAH (NC App); Holguin v Harrison (ND CA); MH v State (FL App); BA v State (IN); In re LG (OH App); NC v Commonwealth (KY); In re Welfare of MAK (MN App)
Noting that no binding Michigan case law had substantively addressed the situation at issue, the court held that the trial court properly suppressed respondent-NC’s statements made to police in the school principal’s office, finding the interview custodial and Miranda warnings were required.
As there was no binding Michigan case law on the role of “questioning a juvenile in a school or a principal’s office” in the Miranda custody analysis, the court considered cases from other jurisdictions. Finding those cases persuasive, the court held “that while the fact that police questioning occurred at school or in a principal’s office alone is not dispositive of custody, it is still a highly relevant factor to consider in a Miranda custody analysis involving juveniles at school. Indeed, the movements of a juvenile at school are generally restricted in ways not ordinarily applicable to adults. Thus, that a juvenile was interviewed by law enforcement at school or in a principal’s office, along with the circumstances surrounding the questioning, are relevant considerations in a custody analysis.”
BY AGNES JURY (MASON)
For the winter newsletter, we meet one of our newest members, Livingston County FOC Referee Jason Blevins. Jason grew up in Indiana, earned his B.A. from Ball State University in 2007 with a double major in Political Science and Criminal Justice, and earned his J.D. with dual concentrations in International Law and Criminal Law in 2010 from Michigan State University. After law school, he returned to his beloved home state and passed the Indiana bar in 2010. Jason was a solo practitioner for nearly four years and is proud to say that in several published cases, the Court of Appeals block quoted his written work and adopted it as binding law.
After practicing in his home county along the Indiana/Michigan border, Jason decided to take the February 2012 Michigan bar. He later became the only research attorney to the Circuit and Probate benches in Muskegon County. In 2016, Jason moved to Oakland County and served as a staff attorney to a circuit court judge assigned to the family division.
BY MICHELLE LETOURNEAU-MCAVOY (OAKLAND)
KUDOS to . . .
AMANDA KOLE (Macomb) on her retirement after almost 24 years of service to the Macomb County community. Amanda became a Referee in 2005 and has been the most senior RAM board member for some time. She has been instrumental in shaping RAM into the organization it is today. She served as the President of RAM from 2014-2016 and has been the Treasurer for more years than I can count. We have always been able to rely on Amanda to cite the RAM by-laws on request and to educate the board with her institutional knowledge. Thank you for your service, Amanda, and best of luck to you in your retirement and in your new endeavor as a full-time professor at Macomb Community College!
KATE WEAVER and SAHERA HOUSEY (Oakland) for their hard work on and dedication to the RAM Conference Committee. Their efforts to bring our membership high-quality presenters on relevant topics have resulted in RAM being approved as an accredited Mandatory Continuing Judicial Education provider for a 3-year term effective December 7, 2023, by The Michigan Judicial Education Board. Thank you, Sahera and Kate, for your dedication to RAM and the families we serve!
SAHERA HOUSEY (Oakland) on being reappointed to the Michigan Judicial Education Board for a new 3-year term.
ILYSSA CIMMINO (Oakland) and LYDIA FIELDS (Lenawee) on being appointed to the State Bar of Michigan Ethics Committee for a 3-year term.
MICHELLE LETOURNEAU (Oakland) on being appointed to the SCAO Family Court Plans workgroup.
ERIN MAGLEY (Ottawa) and KELLY WARD (Van Buren) on being appointed to represent RAM on the Workload Assessment Committee. They will be advising the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) as they collaborate to develop judicial workload assessments in 2024.
AMANDA POLLARD (Eaton) on being appointed by Governor Whitmer as Probate Court Judge in Eaton County.
Congratulations, everyone! Thank you for your commitment to our profession and the families we serve!
Don’t be shy about sending your professional, personal, and community involvement accomplishments to be recognized in this section. We love celebrating the multi-talented, multifaceted professionals in our group! Please forward anything you’d like to share about yourself or a colleague by emailing Michelle Letourneau-McAvoy (Oakland) at email@example.com anytime throughout the year.