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WMU-Cooley Law School recognizes Distinguished Briefs

Each year, Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law Review recognizes excellence in legal writing presented to the Michigan Supreme Court and honors the authors with its Distinguished Brief Award. This year, attorneys Joel T. Finnell and Stephen H. Sinas, of Sinas Dramis Law Firm, along with Katherine L. Marcuz of the State Appellate Defender Office, received the 34th annual Distinguished Brief Awards at a ceremony in Lansing on July 24. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Megan Cavanagh presented the keynote address.

Any brief submitted to the Michigan Supreme Court qualifies for consideration. A panel of judges determine the winner(s) based on seven criteria: the question presented, point headings, statement of case, argument and analysis, style, mechanics, and the best overall brief.

Finnell and Sinas were recognized for their co-authored brief in Home Owners Ins Co, eta al v Richard Jankowski, et al. This brief concerned whether an insuror could turn down Michigan personal protection insurance benefits for Michigan residents  injured in an accident that occurred in Florida in a Florida-owned car, and argued that the insuror was precluded from doing so.

Joel T. Finnell is an in-house appellate specialist at Sinas Dramis. Finnell has obtained many appellate victories, several of which have resulted in published Michigan Supreme Court decisions. National Trial Lawyers  acknowledged him in its “Top 40 Under 40” list in 2017 and 2018.

Stephen Sinas is a partner at the firm. He specializes in representing people injured or harmed by the negligence or wrongdoing of another person, company, institution, or governmental entity. He currently is an Adjunct Professor of Michigan No-Fault Auto Insurance Law at Michigan State University College of Law.  Sinas  has been recognized as a “Super Law-year” by Super Lawyer Magazine and a “Leading Lawyer” by Leading Lawyer Magazine.

Marcuz won the award for her brief in People v. Thorpe, which argued that an expert’s testimony about the frequency of children lying about being abused was neither relevant nor reliable evidence as required by Michigan Rule of Evidence 702. 

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