This initiative develops policies and programs for underserved populations as well as groups with special needs or who face barriers to access. Equal Access Initiative Roster PDF
Problem Solving Courts
Problem Solving Courts: Lessons Learned & Implications for People with Mental Health Care Needs
2013 State Bar of Michigan Annual Meeting
This program explores the follow-up assessment of pilot projects across Michigan and discusses the matters people with mental health care needs encounter when facing the legal system. Across the spectrum of the system, from law enforcement to courts to corrections, people with special needs face unique barriers to overcome in order to be appropriately served. A two-panel discussion looked at the issues from multiple views in an effort to identify solutions to support access to justice for every individual.
The EAI Disabilities Workgroup hosted this program with the Criminal Law Section and the Prisons & Corrections Section.
- Introduction: Gregory Conyers and Kay Felt
- Panel 1 Discussion
- Panel 1 Q and A
- Panel 2 Discussion
- Panel 2 Q and A
Moderator: Hon. Patricia P. Fresard, 3rd Circuit Court, Civil Division, Wayne County
Hon. David A. Hoort, 8th Circuit Court, Ionia County
Hon. Timothy M. Kenny, 3rd Circuit Court, Criminal Division, Wayne County
Michael J. Nichols, Attorney, East Lansing
Ronald J. Schafer, Prosecuting Attorney, Ionia County
Moderator: Hon. Nicholas M. Ohanesian, Administrative Law Judge,
Social Security Admin. ODAR
Greg Boyd, Project Coordinator, Michigan Partners in Crisis
Christopher K. Cooke, Attorney, Traverse City; Governor's Mental Health Diversion Council
Blaine A. Koops, Allegan County Sheriff
Jeff Patton, CEO, Kalamazoo Community Mental Health & Substance Abuse
John A. Shea, Attorney, Ann Arbor; Prisons & Corrections Section Chair
Resources and Downloads
DNR Decisions of the Incompetent—Who Chooses? PDF
Equal Access Initiative Disabilities Workgroup Released January, 2011
The Equal Access Initiative Disabilities Workgroup recently completed work on Persons with Disabilities and Access to the Michigan Legal System: A Status Report, 2010. This updated the questions asked in the 2001 report with information collected in a survey sent to over 300 lawyers who are either disabled or serve disabled clients. It also includes feedback from focus groups held around the state to gather input from care providers and patients at centers for assisted living, and gathered information with the help of the State Court Administrative Office from judges, court administrators, and Americans with Disabilities Coordinators.
Access to the Legal System in Michigan for Persons with Disabilities
This report was produced by the Disabilities Committee of the former Open Justice Commission in an effort to give a voice to people with disabilities and to listen carefully to their concerns and issues about the legal system in Michigan. It is an analysis of the status of persons with disabilities within the courts, law schools, and law firms of this state with recommendations for future initiatives and programs to assist persons with disabilities to become full participants in every phase of Michigan's legal system.
- Read online (47 pages) PDF 1.24MB (download times will vary based on connection)
People with Cognitive and Psychiatric Disabilities in the Criminal Justice System presented at the State Bar of Michigan Annual Meeting, September 22, 2005.
Disabilities Committee Law School Forum—Summary of Group Discussions
The Disabilities Committee Law School Forum took place on October 17, 2002. It was sponsored by the Disabilities Committee of the former Open Justice Commission of the State Bar of Michigan. The purpose of the forum was to bring together representatives from Michigan’s six law schools and other interested parties to discuss the impact of physical or cognitive disabilities upon law students and the law school environment, to explore strategies and programs designed to address the challenges of appropriate and effective accommodation, and to jointly formulate recommended law school policies and practices as a response to these complex issues.
Disabilities Project Newsletter is an electronic newsletter addressing issues faced by people with disabilities in the courthouse setting. The project was funded by a grant from the Newman Foundation and was the concept of members of the Disabilities Committee of the Bar’s former Open Justice Commission. Subscribe to the Newsletter
- Using the Best Interests Test to Protect the Cognitively Impaired From Intrusive Interventions at the End of Life released December 2012
- Snippets of Information for the Equitable Treatment of Persons with Disabilities released April 2012
- Accommodating the Deaf or Hard of Hearing Client in the Law Office Setting released October 2011
- A Simple Form That Enhances Equal Access to the Courts released March 2011
- A New Frontier: The Legal System, Accessibility, and the World Wide Web released October, 2010
- Demystifying the Administrative Law—Medicaid Fair Hearings Process released July, 2010
- Self Identification Notice Under the ADA released March, 2010
- Guardianship—The Impact on Parents with Special Needs released December, 2009
- Disabled Veterans: Serving Those Who Served released September, 2009
- Conflicts in Guardianship of Adults released June, 2009: Part 1 of 2
- Conflicts Involving Counsel and Adult Clients With Cognitive Disabilities released June, 2009: Part 2 of 2
- Planning Alternatives to Guardianship released February, 2009
- Violence Against Vulnerable Adults released October, 2008
- Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury released July, 2008
- Preventing Push-Out of Children with Disabilities from School: Strategies for Family Court and Family Service Providers released April, 2008
- Meeting the Legal Needs of Deaf Individuals released January 2008
- 'But You Look So Good!' and 7 Other Things NOT to Say to a Person With a Non-Visible Disability released November 2007
- Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service, Inc. Provides Advocacy to People with Disabilities released July, 2007
- Determining Proper Accommodations for Deaf Law Students released in March, 2007
- Accommodating a Person with a Visual Disability in the Legal Process released December, 2006
- Accommodating Persons with Non-Obvious Limitations in Mobility released October, 2006
- Connecting to Community Resources released July, 2006
- Representing the Cognitively Disabled Client in a Criminal Case released March, 2000
- Autism and the Courts released December, 2005
- Wheelchair Access to Michigan Courts released September, 2005
- Lay Advocates as an Accommodation for Individuals with Disabilities released July, 2005
- Low Cost Ways Courthouses Can Be More Accessible to Persons With Disabilities released March, 2005.
- Deaf and Hard of Hearing released November, 2004
Request for Accommodations Forms Available: If you, your client, or a witness requires special accommodations for an appearance in a Michigan court, please notify the court in advance so the court has the opportunity to make reasonable accommodations. Notice should be provided by use of this form:
The form can be printed and mailed to the administrator of the trial court in which you are scheduled to appear.
Requests for Court of Appeals accommodations should be directed to the Clerk of the Court of Appeals. The court's accommodation policy can be viewed by visiting the link below:
Requests for accommodations for the Supreme Court should be directed to the Clerk of the Supreme Court.
Family Legal Issues
Alimony Guidelines Survey Report provides a snapshot of family division judges' views towards alimony guidelines. Conducted in response to the finding of the Michigan Supreme Court Task Force on Gender Issues in the Courts that the economic impact of divorce is very different for women than it is for men, the survey elicited a 70% response rate from the 208 judges in Michigan hearing family law cases. Of most interest was the finding that 60% of the judges use computerized guidelines to help analyze and settle cases. Review the report for more details on the results.
"The Law—For Minors, Parents, Counselors” is the 2008 updated Juvenile Justice Guide originally published in September 2004. This resource includes comprehensive legal information for young people, parents, teachers, lawyers, and others who care about juvenile justice issues. The information is presented in easily understandable language and includes legal information on topics including arrests, adoption, abuse and neglect, and medical treatment. This comprehensive source of information is available in an interactive and printable in PDF format. To obtain a hard copy of this guide, please contact Greg Conyers at (517) 346-6358 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Juvenile Legal Issues
RoundTable Forum Video and High School Curriculum—". . . And Justice For All"
". . . And Justice For All" is an hour-long video taped at WKAR studios on June 7, 2001, designed for public airing on television stations throughout the state and for use as an educational tool. A hypothetical courtroom situation was pre-produced and used to identify common and/or unique open justice issues in the Michigan court system related to the impact of race, gender, ethnicity, disability sexual orientation, and other personal characteristics of court users. These vignettes are the basis for discussion and analysis by top legal minds in the state including the Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, a Federal District Judge, and the Executive Director of the State Bar of Michigan.
In addition, a curriculum for the high school education level has been developed with the assistance of the Michigan Center for Civic Education (formerly the Center for Civic Education through Law), which coordinates with the video to teach about the importance of the legal system and the impact of bias and discrimination in its application.
- Read the Round Table Curriculum online (34 pages) PDF
Contact Michelle Erskine at email@example.com to purchase a video in VHS format available for $20 each.
Race, Gender, and Ethnicity Issues
Final Report of the State Bar of Michigan Task Force on Racial/Ethnic and Gender Issues in the Courts and the Legal Profession (January 1998)
The Michigan Supreme Court created the Task Force on Gender Issues in the Courts and the Task Force on Racial/Ethnic Issues in the Courts in 1987. Their mission was to examine the courts and to recommend changes to assure equal treatment for men and women, free from race or gender bias. The two task forces issued their reports in 1989. Those reports concluded that a substantial number of citizens and lawyers believe bias affects justice and that this perception of bias is based in reality. The reports contained 167 recommendations to improve the quality of justice and to eliminate both bias and discrimination. In 1996, the State Bar of Michigan created the State Bar of Michigan Task Force on Race/Ethnic and Gender Issues in the Courts and the Legal Profession. Its mission was to report on the status of the recommendations made by the Supreme Court Task Forces and to develop a strategy for implementing those recommendations as well as identifying new areas of concern. The State Bar of Michigan unanimously adopted the report of the Task Force on Racial/Ethnic and Gender Issues in the Courts and the Legal Profession in 1997. A special emphasis was placed on creating an implementation commission.
It Isn't Fair if You're Not There—A Jury Duty Video
The 24-minute video entitled, It Isn't Fair If You're Not There, was created and produced by Genesee County Circuit Judge Joseph J. Farah and a talented committee who worked with him to improve citizen participation and representation in the jury process. This video is a tool to help educate the public about the importance of jury duty. The video is not for juror orientation, but it can be used in Michigan courts, classrooms, town hall meetings, and educational forums to stress the importance of participation in the jury process. It is informative, accurate, realistic, engaging to many different citizen constituencies, and even entertaining.