Equal Access Initiative

Right to Counsel Presentation

The right to counsel in civil matters continues to be a topic for national discussion. Currently a few jurisdictions are experimenting with providing representation to indigent civil litigants in certain cases. The14th Amendment right to counsel for the indigent in criminal matters was established in 1963 in Gideon v. Wainwright. There is no similar protection for civil litigants.

Listen to the audio (1:56)

John Pollock [bio]
National Update Right to Counsel in Civil Cases 1.8MB
Supplemental History

Michigan Perspectives

Dawn Van Hoek [bio]
HB 4529 (2013)

David Moss [bio]
What Michigan Law Schools are Doing

Angela Tripp [bio]
New Tools for Self-Represented Persons in Michigan

Best Practices for Language Access in Michigan Courts

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

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

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

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

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

Justice Initiatives Resources

Disability Resources

DNR Decisions for the Incompetent—Who Chooses?
2011 Annual Meeting

Below is a summary of the recorded transcript of this special program of the SBM Disabilities Work Group of the Equal Access Initiative. It has been edited to minimize repetition. The audience asked many excellent questions. To facilitate use of the summary, responses to questions have been noted in parentheses closest to the most relevant text of presenters' presentations.

View the Transcript

Persons with Disabilities & Access to the Michigan Legal System: A Status Report

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.

People with Cognitive & Psychiatric Disabilities in the Criminal Justice System
2005 Annual Meeting

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.

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.



Introductions by Gregory Conyers & Kay Felt

Request for Accommodations Forms

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:

Request for Accommodations (MC70)

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:

Court of Appeals Accommodation Policy

Requests for accommodations for the Supreme Court should be directed to the Clerk of the Supreme Court.

Family Legal Resources

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 gconyers@mail.michbar.org.

Final Report of the SBM Task Force on Racial/Ethnic & Gender Issues in the Courts & 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.

Original Report: 1989 Final Report of the Michigan Supreme Court Task Force on Gender Issues in the Courts