Grand Traverse-Leelanau-Antrim Bar Association

May 2018 Newsletter

Report from your Representative Assembly Members

April 21, 2018

Lansing, Michigan

Standing Members John Blakeslee and Lea Ann Sterling welcomed a new third member from our 13th Circuit, James Rossiter of Antrim County.

For our consideration at this meeting were three issues. Here is a short summary. Further information is available on the State Bar of Michigan website/About Us/Representative Assembly/Upcoming Meeting Agenda.

1.     Payee Notification Legislation

Issue:  Should the State Bar of Michigan advocate for state legislation that would implement payee notification when a [personal injury] claim is paid with insurance funds?

The problem: a few dishonest attorneys misappropriate millions of dollars of client settlement funds. A payee notification system has the potential to significantly address this problem.

        The Representative Assembly voted to support the proposal.

2.     Proposed Amendments to MCR 2.002 Regarding Waiver or Suspension of Fees and Costs for Indigent Persons

Issue: Should the State Bar of Michigan recommend amendments to MCR 2.002 to allow indigent persons lacking the ability to pay filing fees to have such fees waived through a process that is expeditious, humane, efficient in terms of litigant and court system administrative time, and consistent in all Michigan courts, and to provide for a statewide uniform standard for Michigan courts to determine indigency?

Background: Fee waivers are essential to ensure adequate due process protections for low-income people. Treatment of fee waiver requests is inconsistent and there is no statewide standard for determining indigency. This results in non-uniform application of the court rule across the state with the fee waiver experience varying widely from court to court. The proposed amendments have the potential to provide consistency, privacy, dignity, clarity, and recourse for denials of requests.

The Representative Assembly voted to support the proposal.

3.     Proposed Amendments to the Michigan Civil Discovery Rules

Issue:  Should the State Bar of Michigan propose changes to the MCR civil discovery rules to improve the civil discovery process by making it more cost effective; increasing access to courts; better enabling active, informed, and efficient judicial case management; and encouraging parties and lawyers to cooperate and act reasonable during the discovery process?

The problem: Discovery continues to be an important part of the civil justice system. However, discovery is broadly perceived as:

        • too expensive;
        • too often abused and the source of expensive and time-consuming conflict;
        • an obstacle to use of the courts, and this it limits access to justice and saps vitality from the judicial system; and
        • distorts administration of judicial resources.

The proposed civil discovery rule amendments have the potential to significantly address this problem.

NOTE:  The amendments proposed to MCR 3.206 would require a new Domestic Relations Verified Financial Information Form to be completed and exchanged early in new family law cases (DO, DM, DC, DS, and DP). See the proposed form in the aforementioned materials on the SBM website. 

The Representative Assembly voted to support the proposal.

Respectfully submitted,

Lea Ann Sterling


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