SBM Board of Commissioners Minutes

January 25, 2002

The meeting was called to order by President Neckers at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, January 25, 2002, at the State Bar of Michigan, Lansing, Michigan. Commissioners present were:

John M. Barr
Marjory G. Basile
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
Jon Feikens
Julie I. Fershtman, Assembly Chair
Dennis P. Grenkowicz
W. Anthony Jenkins
Ronald D. Keefe
Daniel M. Levy
Richard D. McLellan
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 Michael S. Hohauser, Joshua A. Lerner, Hon. William B. Murphy, and Craig H. Lubben were absent and excused. Hon. Joseph J. Farah was absent and unexcused.

State Bar Staff Present:
John T. Berry, Executive Director
Nancy F. Brown, Director, Communications
Thomas K. Byerley, Director, Regulation Counsel
Candace Crowley, Manager, Campaign Development
Kathleen J. Fox; Director, Employee Services
James C. Horsch, Director, Administration and Finance
Will Kramer, Manager of Information Services & Technology
Roberta M. Lott, Administrative Assistant
Glenna D. Peters, Executive Coordinator
Bradley Vauter, Program Administrator
Lorraine Weber, Consultant, Open Justice
Janet Welch, General Counsel
Karen L. Williams, Committees and Sections

Present for such portions of the meeting as pertained to a specific agenda item were Lynn Chard, Executive Director, ICLE; Kathleen N. Harris, OJC Disabilities Committee Member; David Haynes, and Becky Bechler of Public Affairs Associates.

A moment of silence was observed in honor of former Commissioner, John L. Collins.

Mr. Neckers recognized Candace Crowley in celebration of success for the 2001 Development Campaign. Ms. Crowley reported that $842,752.58 was received in new cash and pledges for the Access to Justice Fund, which was nearly a forty percent increase from last year. She thanked the Board and the staff for their support and recognized Reginald Turner for his efforts as Chair of the Access to Justice Task Force.


A motion was made and seconded to add recognition of the Wayne County Family Law Bar Association to the Consent Agenda. Motion carried.

A motion was made and seconded to approve the Consent Agenda as amended. Motion carried.

The Board received the minutes of the October 26, 2001 and November 30, 2001 Board meeting.

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

    November 26, 2001
    December 3, 2001
    December 17, 2001
    January 7, 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.


President's Report
Mr. Neckers reported that the Hall of Justice Celebration is being planned for October 12, 2002, and deferred to Janet Welch for additional information. Ms. Welch explained that discussions have taken place about how to appropriately acknowledge this significant historic event. Fundraising was suggested as a benefit for the Supreme Court Learning Center, which is the component of the Hall of Justice dedicated to the public (particularly schoolchildren) to educate about the judicial branch of government and history of the Supreme Court. As co-sponsor of the event and given that the Supreme Court is unable to solicit funds, the Bar could help raise funds for the Learning Center. The event could be managed through contractual services, with no budgetary obligation on behalf of the Bar, as expenses would be reimbursed through ticket sales. The Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, in its capacity as a 501(c)(3) corporation would receive the money from ticket sales and donations. Mr. Neckers asked everyone to hold the date and noted that seating would be limited to approximately 360 people. A presentation will take place at the March Board meeting regarding the operations of the Learning Center.

Mr. Neckers attended the CPA Association lunch meeting with John Berry and the Family Law Section with Janet Welch. Additionally, the Executive Committee continues to meet on Mondays at 4:00 p.m. and regular meetings are taking place with the Michigan Supreme Court. He reported that the Bar and the Court are enjoying a very positive relationship.

President Elect's Report—Reginald M. Turner
There was no report presented.

Representative Assembly Chair's Report—Julie I. Fershtman
Ms. Fershtman reported the following:

    1. There is now an e-newsletter that she authors to keep members updated
    2. An optional orientation session will be provided at tomorrow's meeting
    3. A discussion board for Assembly members has been launched
    4. A Member Handbook will be distributed to all members that includes information such as procedural rules, committee information, a summary and index of Assembly action and a summary of parliamentary procedure
    5. Highlights of tomorrow's meeting include a "re-proposal" of the MDP committee (fee-sharing ancillary business proposal), and proposals on attorney/client privilege and military tribunals, along with pro/con presentations by guest speakers

Executive Director's Report—John T. Berry

Mr. Berry thanked the Development Campaign staff for their efforts this year and reported that the staff is working diligently to have as little errors as possible for the April 2002 Bar Journal Directory. He also reported that he and President Neckers attended a luncheon with the CPA Association and are continuing to meet with AGC and ADB regarding a coordinated effort in budget planning and diversion program development. In regard to technology, he noted the passing of the Cyber Court bill and reported that we continuing to work on the e-filing project.


Committee Restructuring Discussion/Breakout Groups
Mr. Berry led a discussion regarding the breakout groups to be used as a test model. He noted that this proposed structure encourages better alignment for implementation of the Strategic Plan. When the format is formally approved, direction will be needed from the new committees regarding how to meet and resource goals. They will help determine which programs will be initiated or reduced, the performance goals to be achieved, what the staffing, facilities and technology needs will be, and the amount and timing of a dues increase.

Finance—Thomas W. Cranmer, Chair
Mr. Cranmer thanked the finance department staff for their efforts in providing a readable, understandable annual report. He noted that a clean report was received from auditors Plante & Moran. While we continue to remain on budget, the post-retirement healthcare issue is still pending and could negatively impact the budget; discussions continue to take place.

Public Policy—Reginald M. Turner, Chair
Mr. Turner reported that the Public Policy Committee met on December 28, 2001, reviewed past positions of the State Bar on court reorganization issues and recommended the following positions:

Senate Bill No. 612 (Courts, Elections: judicial; procedure for the election of family law judges)
Oppose as introduced (recommendation held pending publication in February Bar Journal) for the following reasons:

    1. The problem of sufficient allocation of judges to family division cases, though significant in many jurisdictions, is largely a regional problem that is not most appropriately addressed through statewide systemic change.
    2. The Supreme Court should address the quality and quantity of judicial resources allocated to the Family Division through review of the Family Division's plan for each circuit, and direction to chief judges.
    3. The creation of a separately elected family bench is contrary to the position of the State Bar of Michigan opposing the creation of a family court by vote of the Representative Assembly in 1975, and again in 1990.

Mr. Turner asked for comments from the public about the Bar's legislative program, but none were forthcoming.

Legislation—David Haynes
Mr. Haynes reported on the passage of the Cyber Court bill, noting that Bar representatives attended the signing ceremony. He also reported that the Legislature had recently taken up legislation that as introduced would have restricted public entities from taking positions on ballot proposals, ordinances and other public positions. The Bar was initially included, but was successful in being excluded in later versions of the bill. Court reform discussions continue to occur. Two legislative dinners and a legislative briefing for the Sections will be held in February. He introduced his partner, Becky Bechler.

Court Rules

    1. Proposed Amendment of Rule 2.107 of the Michigan Court Rules-File 01-17.
      (Service and Filing of Pleadings and Other Papers) comment received
      Commissioner liaison: Julie I. Fershtman.
      Public Policy recommendation: Oppose as proposed; support amendment recommended by the Civil Procedure committee.
    2. Proposed Amendments of Rules 6.302 and 6.425 of the Michigan Court Rules
      File 01-24.
      (6.302-Pleas of Guilty and Nolo Contendere) (6.425-Sentencing; Appointment of Appellate Counsel) Commissioner liaison: Kim Warren Eddie.
      Public Policy recommendation: Support, as the change would make the court rule consistent with statute.
    3. Proposed Amendments of Rules 2.309, 2.310 and 2.312 of the Michigan Court
      Rules-File 99-65
      . (2.309: Interrogatories to Parties) (2.310: Request for Production of Documents and Other Things; Entry on Land for Inspection and Other Purposes)
      (2.312: Request for Admission) Commissioner liaison: Edward H. Pappas.
      Public Policy recommendation: support as proposed, consistent with the recommendations of the Civil Procedure committee.

A motion was made and seconded to adopt the recommendations of the Public Policy committee. Motion carried.

Strategic Planning—Nancy Diehl, Chair
Nominating Committee—Charles Toy, Chair
Mr. Toy reported Don Tucker's resignation from District I, representing Oakland, Lapeer and St. Clair Counties. The Committee is seeking nominations for qualified individuals, keeping in mind Strategic Plan Goal 4.5, to "increase and evidence the Bar's commitment to diversity". Letters to local and specialty bars will be sent, and recommendations should be forwarded to Charles Toy, prior to their next committee meeting on February 20. Ms. Diehl noted that since this is an appointment for the remainder of a term ending in September 2002, the person filling this seat will immediately need to file a petition for re-election to remain on the Board.

Member Services—Scott Brinkmeyer, Chair
Research Services: Mr. Brinkmeyer reported that the contract with Lois would expire March 1. Though we are receiving approximately $100,000 in non-dues revenue annually, mixed reactions regarding the quality of that program have led to the review of this contract by the State Bar Member Services Committee. Others considered include Westlaw, Nexus, and Casemaker. The committee recommends maintaining the Lois System through the remainder of the contract in a non-exclusive agreement, while assessing other programs.

A motion was made to support the recommendation of the committee and implement of a review of the programs. Motion carried.

OJC Disabilities Report: Mr. Neckers reported that this report has initiated a discussion regarding how to deal with reports of this nature that come before the Board.

A motion was made to have the Executive Director thank the committee members on behalf of the Board and that the Disabilities Report be referred to the Public Policy, Finance and Member Services Committees for their review and recommendation; further, that it be transmitted to the Law School Deans and the Law Practice Management Section of the State Bar of Michigan for comment. Motion carried.

Access to Justice For All Task Force
Mr. Turner announced that Charlotte Johnson, Assistant Dean at the University of Michigan Law School and member of the Pro-Bono Involvement Committee has succeeded him as Chair. Activities of the task force are being reviewed, along with support for legal services programs across the state and joint initiatives with the Open Justice Commission.

Young Lawyers Section—Evanne Dietz, Chair
Ms. Dietz reported success with their holiday dinners, new appointments for all open seats and numerous events and programs coming up in the next program. An update was also provided on section activities such as the mentoring program, peer mediation and disaster legal services training.


Comments or questions from Commissioners
Mr. Turner announced that Commissioner W. Anthony Jenkins is running for re-election as the State Delegate to the American Bar Association

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.