SBM Board of Commissioners Minutes

September 27, 2002

Last Meeting of the 2001-2002 Board

The meeting was called to order by President Neckers at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, September 27, 2002, at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Grand Rapids. Commissioners present were:

John M. Barr
Scott S. Brinkmeyer, Vice President
Kimberly M. Cahill
Thomas W. Cranmer, Treasurer
Kathryn M. Day
Nancy J. Diehl, Secretary
Evanne L. Dietz
Kim Warren Eddie
James N. Erhart
Hon. Joseph J. Farah
Jon Feikens
Michael S. Hohauser
Ronald D. Keefe
Daniel M. Levy
Joshua A. Lerner
Craig H. Lubben
Richard D. McLellan
Hon. William B. Murphy
Bruce W. Neckers, President
Edward H. Pappas
Randolph P. Piper
Thomas G. Plunkett
Thomas C. Rombach
Kurt E. Schnelz
Hon. Cynthia D. Stephens
Charles R. Toy
Reginald M. Turner, President-Elect
Gregory L. Ulrich

Commissioners Marjory G. Basile, Julie I. Fershtman, Dennis P. Grenkowciz, and W. Anthony Jenkins were absent and excused.

State Bar Staff Present:
John T. Berry—Executive Director
Lisa Allen-Kost—Director, Programs & Services
Nancy F. Brown—Director, Communications
Thomas K. Byerley—Director, Regulation Counsel
Candace A. Crowley—Manager, Campaign Development
Gregory P. Conyers—Program Administrator, Justice Initiatives
Kathleen J. Fox—Director, Employee Services
Marian S. Frane—Manager, Financial Services
James C. Horsch—Director, Administration and Finance
William M. Kramer III—Manager, Information Services & Technology
Victoria Kremski—Assistant Regulation Counsel
Roberta M. Lott—Administrative Assistant
Susan Oudsema—Communications Coordinator
Glenna D. Peters—Executive Coordinator
Michael Smith—Graphic Artist
Naseem Stecker—Media Specialist
Lorraine H. Weber—Consultant, Open Justice
Janet K. Welch—General Counsel
Jessica A. Weston—Administrative Assistant
Karen L. Williams—Committees & Sections

Present for such portions of the meeting as pertained to a specific agenda item were David Haynes of Public Affairs Associates; John Van Bolt and Mark Armitage, Attorney Discipline Board; Lynn Chard, ICLE; Linda Rexer, State Bar Foundation; Past Presidents Al Butzbaugh and Thomas Ryan; Susie Neckers and Chris Verspoor, guests of President Neckers.

A moment of silence was observed in honor of George E. Bushnell Jr., Hon. Martin Doctoroff, and Hon. John T. Letts.


Upon a motion made and seconded, the following items on the Consent Agenda were approved:

The Board approved the minutes of the July 26, 2002, Board meeting.

The Board accepted the minutes of the following Executive Committee meetings:

    July 22, 2002
    July 29, 2002
    August 5, 2002
    August 12, 2002
    August 19, 2002
    September 9, 2002

President's Report—Bruce W. Neckers, President
The Board received the President's written report.

Executive Director's Report—John T. Berry, Executive Director
The Board received the Executive Director's written report and the UPL litigation report.

Michigan Court of Appeals Delay Reduction Plan—Hon. William C. Whitbeck
The Board received a written progress report dated August 15, 2002, concerning the delay reduction plan of the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Proposed Section Bylaw Amendments
The Board approved the following Section bylaw amendments:

  1. Administrative Law Section
  2. Children's Law Section
  3. Consumer Law Section
  4. Elder Law & Advocacy Section
  5. Family Law Section
  6. Health Care Law Section
  7. Law Practice Management Section
  8. Legal Administrator Section
  9. Legal Assistant Section
  10. Prisons & Corrections Section
  11. Probate & Estate Planning Section
  12. Real Property Law Section
  13. Senior Lawyers Section

Commissioner Liaison Reports—A written report was received by Commissioner Liaison Kurt Schnelz regarding the Elder Law & Advocacy Section.


President's Report—Bruce W. Neckers
Introduction of new Commissioners—Mr. Neckers introduced District H Commissioner Lambro Niforos, Young Lawyers Section Chair-Elect D. Andrew Portinga, Clerk of the Representative Assembly Elizabeth Jamieson, and Commissioner-at-Large Stephen J. Murphy III.

Mr. Neckers reported that a lifetime achievement award would be presented to Governor Engler at the Hall of Justice Gala on October 12, 2002.

Representative Assembly Chair's Report—Thomas C. Rombach (for Julie I. Fershtman)
Mr. Rombach provided an Assembly report on behalf of Julie Fershtman, who had been involved in a serious car accident with her family. Fortunately, other than some cuts, bruises and soreness, all were safe at home following the accident.

Mr. Rombach reported that the Assembly 1) voted in favor of supporting public financing of judicial campaigns, 2) presented the Michael Franck Award to Margaret J. Nichols and Norman D. Tucker, and 3) elected Elizabeth A. Jamieson as Clerk at its meeting on Thursday, September 26, 2002.

Executive Director's Report
Mr. Berry provided an informational status report on the timing and implementation of the Strategic Plan and noted the following that has occurred this year: 1) overhaul of committee structure, 2) improved communication with Sections, 3) tough belt-tightening that has led to financial integrity, 4) improved financial reporting, 5) reformatted annual meeting with ongoing review for future meetings, and 6) moved forward in helping lawyers at their desk, to include diversion programs.

Mr. Berry also reported that the following areas need consideration: 1) relationship with ICLE, 2) advocacy role of the Bar, 3) Justice Initiatives, 4) Client Protection Fund, and 5) technology/e-filing.

Mr. Neckers thanked Mr. Berry and the staff for their hard work regarding the implementation of the Strategic Plan.


Mary Kelly was recognized for her 29 years of service at the Bar and especially for her efforts related to State Bar of Michigan annual meetings. A resolution was read by Mr. Berry and presented for adoption by Mr. Neckers. It carried unanimously. A copy is attached hereto as Addendum I.


Finance and Human Resources—Thomas W. Cranmer, Chair
Mr. Cranmer provided a financial update and noted that the committee has formalized a number of policies in the past year and it continues to review dues issues.

Additionally, Mr. Cranmer reported that 1) it is anticipated that we will be ahead of budget at fiscal year end, 2) the Family Law Section will have a negative balance though it is working to correct it, 3) the books will be closed sooner than they have in the past, 4) the Client Protection Fund balance continues to decrease and needs continuous examination, and 5) it is anticipated that the 2002-2003 budget will be balanced and that no additional program cuts are expected. Mr. Brinkmeyer requested that the terms "assumed permanent" be deleted from the e-filing year-to-date operating expense variance language, as indicated in the financial results ending August 31, 2002.

Special Report

Open Justice Commission—Justice Marilyn Kelly and Hon. Harold Hood, Co-Chairs
The Biennial Report of the Open Justice Commission was distributed. Justice Kelly invited Board members to a forum for law schools to be held at the State Bar on October 17, 2002, and also reported on the National Consortium to be held April 10-12, 2003, in Detroit. Hon. Harold Hood provided an update on justice initiatives.

Professional Standards—Nancy J. Diehl, Chair
Ms. Diehl reported that on behalf of the Standing Committee on Character and Fitness the following amendments to SBM Rule 15 are recommended: 1) increase the size of the committee from 12 members to 18 members, and 2) create uniformity in the amount of time unsuccessful candidates must wait before reapplying for admission. In conjunction with the Board of Law Examiners, the committee suggests five years. Upon a motion made and seconded, the Board approved the amendments.

Following discussion, Mr. Turner asked that the issue be tabled until the November 22, 2002, Board meeting, allowing the committee to provide a more detailed report in regard to its recommendations. A motion was made and seconded. Motion carried.

Ms. Diehl recognized retiring Commissioner Jon Feikens and thanked him for his efforts on the committee.

Nominating Committee—Charles R. Toy
Upon recommendation of the Professional Standards Committee, a motion was made, seconded, and approved to make the following appointments:

  • Institute of Continuing Legal Education Executive Committee—Frank S. Spies: Four-year term expiring on September 30, 2006.
  • Michigan Indian Legal Services Board of Trustees—Damian S. Fisher: Three-year term expiring on September 30, 2005; and John R. Runyan Jr., reappointment to three-year term expiring on September 30, 2005.

Public Policy, Image and Identity—Reginald M. Turner, Chair
Mr. Turner asked for comments from the public about the Bar's legislative program but there were none.

Legislation—David Haynes
Mr. Haynes reported that the focus is on 1) potential lame duck session, and 2) court reform issues that are currently scheduled for November.

Mr. Turner reported that Jon Muth and Bob Webster, both past presidents of the State Bar of Michigan, have been working with the committee on determining how the Bar can be active in the debate about court reform. The Board's long-standing position has been that a constitutional amendment is required to merge Probate and Circuit courts, an action the Board favors. Supreme Court Chief Justice Corrigan has proposed an alternative to a constitutional amendment where the legislature would pass legislation to merge these courts on an emergency basis. Chief Justice Corrigan has requested the Bar's cooperation in determining if this action would require a constitutional amendment.

Mr. Turner reported that the Public Policy, Image and Identity Committee has not had time to formulate an official opinion on the Chief Justice's proposal, but is working with a broad coalition of people to address the issue. Mr. Turner thanked both SBM General Counsel Janet Welch and David Haynes of Public Affairs Associates for their hard work on this issue.

Mr. Turner reported that the Committee received a presentation from Richard Bisio, Chair of the Civil Procedure Committee, regarding the proposed amendment of Court Rules 2.112, 2.116, 2.118, and 2.401. The Committee has referred these proposed amendments to the Representative Assembly.

Michigan Court Rules

Upon a motion made and seconded, the following Board actions were approved:

Proposed Amendments of Rules 7.203, 7.210, 7.219, 7.211, 7.215, 7.217—Jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals = Support in principle with the following exceptions:

    Proposed Amendment of 7.215(H) eliminates the court's discretion to consider late motions for reconsideration, even in cases they may present compelling circumstances.

    The provision of 7.217 (D) shortening the time to seek reinstatement of a case dismissed for lack of progress could be prejudicial to litigants who are unable, for compelling reasons, to seek reinstatement within the shortened time period.

Proposed Amendment of Rule 2.102—Summons, expiration of Summons; Dismissal of Action for Failure to Serve. Deferred.

Proposed Amendment of Rule 2.401, 2.410, 2.506, 7.213—Pretrial Procedures; Conference; Scheduling Orders. Support.

Proposed Amendment of Rule 2002-37—Proposed Electronic Filing Standards = Deferred (for review by General Practice Section, E-filing Task Force and Membership Services Committee).

HB 6078—Criminal Procedure, sentencing. Court authority to impose costs for prosecution. Deferred.

HB 6139—Torts, Civil Procedure, personal injury, and remedies. Deferred.

Mr. Turner provided a report on Judicial Campaign Guidelines that were discussed at the last meeting of the Board. He noted that the Michigan Republican Party, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the State Bar of Michigan supported the principles stated regarding campaign practices. The Michigan Democratic Party and the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association did not join in supporting the guidelines.

Mr. Turner also reported that the Bar may want to issue a statement regarding the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ads related to the Lawsuit Abuse Tax. He is researching the basis for the claims made in the ads and will take it to the Executive Committee for discussion in the near future.

Young Lawyers Section—Evanne Dietz, Chair
Ms. Deitz reported that Kathryn Day has now assumed the position as Chair of the Young Lawyers Section, as of September 26, 2002. She further reported on the achievement awards received from the ABA Young Lawyers Division and additional upcoming section activities. Ms. Dietz expressed her appreciation for a great year.


Jon Feikens—A resolution was prepared, read, presented for adoption by Mr. Plunkett and seconded. It carried unanimously. A copy is attached to these minutes as Addendum II.

Joshua Lerner—A resolution was prepared, read, presented for adoption by Ms. Dietz and seconded. It carried unanimously. A copy is attached to these minutes as Addendum III.

Richard McLellan—A resolution was prepared, read, presented for adoption by Judge Stephens and seconded. It carried unanimously. A copy is attached to these minutes as Addendum IV.

Julie I. Fershtman—A resolution was prepared for adoption by Mr. Rombach and will be presented to her at a future meeting.


Commitment to Excellence Award—Mr. Neckers
This newly created award was developed to annually recognize staff member(s) who have demonstrated exemplary efforts in striving for excellence. The award was presented this year to a cross-unit team of individuals who worked to revise the dues form that resulted in improved efficiency and cost savings. Recipients this year: Marian Frane, Jennifer Epkey, Michael Smith, Sarah Nussbaumer, Will Kramer, and Kim Johnson.

Mr. Turner expressed appreciation to Mr. Neckers on behalf of the Board and staff.

Mr. Neckers thanked everyone for a great year and introduced his wife, Susie, and secretary, Chris Verspoor, to the Board. He also recognized David Haynes and those who had helped him with his Bar Journal columns throughout the year.


Comments or questions from Commissioners
Mr. Neckers asked for comments or questions from the Commissioners, but there were none.

Comments or questions from the public
Mr. Neckers asked for comments or questions from the public, but there were none.

Old Business
There was none.

New Business
There was none.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:45 a.m.