Hot topics on tap for State Supreme Court's Sept. 22 public meeting

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By Kelly Caplan
BridgeTower Media Newswires
 
DETROIT — Creation of an Interim Administrator Program within the State Bar of Michigan that imposes new obligations on attorneys regarding succession planning is on the agenda for public comment at a Sept. 22 Michigan Supreme Court public hearing.

Other agenda topics include retaining the Michigan Judicial Council, making it mandatory for courts to submit data to the Judicial Data Warehouse and adopting a Uniform Bar Exam.

The hearing will start at 9:30 a.m. and will adjourn no later than 11:30 a.m. in the Supreme Court courtroom on the sixth floor of the Michigan Hall of Justice at 925 W. Ottawa Street in Lansing.

Those who wish to address the court will be allotted three minutes each to present their views, after which speakers may be questioned by the justices. Comments must pertain directly to an agenda item.

To reserve a place on the agenda, notify the Office of Administrative Counsel in writing at P.O. Box 30052, Lansing, 48909, or by email at ADMcomment@courts.mi.gov, no later than Friday, Sept. 17.

Some agenda items below include information from the MSC order or staff comments that explain the proposed changes. The full agenda and more information can be found here.

• Uniform bar exam: 2019-34 Proposed Amendments of Rule 2, Rule 3, Rule 4, Rule 5, Rule 6, and Rule 7 and Proposed Additions of Rule 3a and Rule 4a of the Rules for the Board of Law Examiners (published at 507 Mich ___ (2021)) — The above proposed amendments and proposed additions for the Board of Law Examiners would implement a Uniform Bar Examination in Michigan.

• Interim Administrator Program: 2020-15 Proposed Amendment of Rule 2 and Proposed Addition of Rule 21 of the Rules Concerning the State Bar of Michigan and Proposed Amendment of MCR 9.119 and Proposed Addition of MCR 9.1XX (published at 507 Mich 1211 (2021)) — The above proposed amendments and additions would impose new obligations on attorneys regarding succession planning and would create a new Interim Administrator Program within the State Bar of Michigan.

Under the program, attorneys in private practice would be required to nominate another attorney or law firm to serve as interim administrator if the nominating attorney becomes unable to practice. The bar would confirm the nomination with the named attorney, and that attorney would acknowledge agreement.

Alternatively, an attorney could pay an annual fee — unspecified in the bar’s proposal — to ensure that in the event of death or disability, the bar would appoint an attorney to serve as interim administrator.

An interim administrator would be eligible for compensation from the attorney’s law practice or estate. Those who participate in the Interim Administrator Program could be reimbursed through that program as a secondary source of compensation.

• Judicial Data Warehouse: 2021-14 Proposed Administrative Order No. 2021-X (published at 507 Mich 1221 (2021)) — The proposed AO above would make it mandatory for all courts to submit case information to the Judicial Data Warehouse, or JDW, in a uniform manner as required by SCAO.

The JDW has been an important tool that lets users find trial court records from around the state, informs judicial decisions, enhances court administration, improves public policy through data-driven research and promotes transparency.

While almost all trial courts provide a daily or weekly feed of case-level data to the JDW, certain data elements frequently are missing or reported inconsistently by different courts. Several courts do not participate at all, which creates problematic data gaps.

To address these problems, the proposal states that courts should be required to submit data in a uniform manner and across all courts. This will ensure the JDW contains uniformly reported data that will be more useful to courts, law enforcement, researchers and others.

A more complete database also will relieve courts of the requirement to submit certain reports manually or with special programming. The database is intended to be a resource for the general public about how courts in Michigan operate.

As such, all trial courts must submit all case data including nonpublic and financial records to the Judicial Data Warehouse in a format and frequency defined by the SCAO. This order replaces all existing Memoranda of Understanding between SCAO and any trial courts regarding the JDW, and shall remain in effect until further order of the court.

• Michigan Judicial Council: 2021-15 Addition of MCR 8.128 (published at 507 Mich ___ (2021)) — The justices will hear whether to retain new MCR 8.128 that establishes the Michigan Judicial Council, which is charged with creating a strategic plan for Michigan’s judiciary, enhancing the work of the courts, and making recommendations to the Michigan Supreme Court on matters relevant to the administration of justice. Several members of the legal community were named to the council earlier this year.



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