SBM Forms Task Force on the Future of Michigan's Courts


The State Bar of Michigan is creating a special task force to identify how Michigan's justice system can meet the needs of the public in the face of transformational changes underway in the state's economy.

The task force will have 27 members, including attorneys from a broad range of practices and circuit, probate, district, and appellate judges. It will be chaired by State Bar President Edward H. Pappas and Barry L. Howard, former chief judge of the Oakland County Circuit Court. The Hon. Marilyn J. Kelly, chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court will also serve as a member.

"Michigan is facing an economic upheaval unprecedented in our lifetimes and unparalleled among the fifty states, and we are called upon to think deeply about how we can be a pioneer in the provision of effective and efficient court services. Already, too many people in need of legal services are unable to afford them," said Ed Pappas.

"During the last century, Michigan's court system earned a national reputation for integrity and resilience. We helped develop best practices on a wide-range of issues, from caseload management in our urban courts to drug courts to domestic violence programs. Once again, we must act to protect what is essential and transform what no longer works. We are at a critical crossroads, and we will meet the challenge," Pappas added.

The work of the task force will be aided by four committees: Court Structure and Resources; Access to Justice; Technology; and Business Impact. Membership of the committees will be drawn from state and national experts and key stakeholders.

The State Bar is designing an electronic platform for the project, including web streaming of task force meetings, a blog, and a discussion board to encourage the participation of its members and the public in all aspects of the task force's work.

The first meeting of the special task force will be in October. A final report is expected in late May or June of 2010.