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Equal Access Initiative

Best Practices for Language Access in Michigan Courts

This program was presented on September 19, 2014, at the Devos Place, Grand Rapids, as part of the State Bar's 2014 Annual Meeting. Listen to the audio (1:15:18) MP3.

The Michigan Supreme Court adopted language access court rules in September of 2013. All trial courts and communities in Michigan are actively working to implement the new rules. This program will review MCR 1.111, MCR 8.127, and the ABA Standards for Language Access in Courts. How to work with interpreters and best practice discussions are part of the program. More Information.

    Panel Moderator
    Maya K. Watson, Bodman PLC, Co-chair of the Equal Access Initiative

    Hon. Christopher P. Yates, 17th Circuit Court, Member, Michigan Supreme Court Foreign Language Board of Review

    Hon. William G. Kelly, 62B District Court, Member, Michigan Supreme Court Foreign Language Board of Review

    Donna F. Bos, Certified interpreter and owner of Fidelity Language Resources, Member, Michigan Supreme Court Foreign Language Board of Review

    Angela S. Tripp, Michigan Poverty Law Program, Michigan Legal Help Program

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


    Panel 1:

    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

    Panel 2:

    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

Disability Issues

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

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 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.

More Resources

    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.



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State Bar of Michigan
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Lansing, MI 48933-2012
Phone: (517) 346-6300
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