4th annual Joe D. Sutton Call to Justice Awards: Elder Law of Michigan holds ceremony


By Roberta M. Gubbins

Legal News

The Country Club of Lansing was again the scene of the Elder Law of Michigan Third Annual Joe D. Sutton Call to Justice Awards Ceremony on the evening of May 3, 2012. The Club's main ballroom was full of members of the legal, education and business communities along with their family and friends.

Julie Fershtman, State Bar of Michigan President opened the ceremony, introducing Milton L. Scales who gave the benediction and also introduced the Master of Ceremonies and Formal Attorney General Frank Kelley.

"I worked with Joe (Sutton) for many years, said Kelly, "I know him to be a voice for those citizens who were not always heard."

Kelly urged the members of the audience to follow in Joe Sutton's footsteps "doing things for your fellow man. We need to restore respect for our government and appreciate the rewards of public service."

Following the video showing one woman's story using the services of Elder Law of Michigan to help her restore balance to her life after losing her home, falling victim to identity theft and exploitation by her daughter, Justice Stephen Markman, Michigan Supreme Court, began the presentation of awards.

Elder Law of Michigan, he commented, embodies the spirit of the law with "its emphasis on pro bono legal services to vulnerable and underserved individuals in the community."

Justice Markman called Thomas Trainer, who "volunteers his time, his talents and his treasure" to Elder Law to the podium to receive the Joe D. Sutton Call to Justice Award. Trainer was honored for his years of service advocating for older adults and people with disabilities, his excellence as an elder law attorney, his commitment to educating professionals in the field of law and aging, and as a tireless volunteer for and donor to Elder Law of Michigan. Trainer created the Elder Law of Michigan Pooled Trust, an important financial tool for people with disabilities.

Trainer, in accepting the award, thanked Elder Law for the honor. He noted that when he began the practice of Elder Law in the 1970's "things were better. Now we have less funds per person" so must work harder to do more with less. He expressed concern over the problem of providing services to a growing number of seniors with fewer resources.

John Lazet accepted the Leadership Award for Contributions in Law and Aging for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette recognized for his steadfast and long-term work in fighting hunger, his support of consumer education for older adults through the Senior Brigade. (http://www.seniorbrigade.com) and his commitment to victim rights.

The Honorable Edward Sosnick of the 6th Circuit Court in Oakland County was honored with the Judicial Contributions to Law and Aging Award. Judge Sosnick was recognized for his work in elder abuse prevention and his interest in supporting a system of justice that protects victims, helping them recover and transition after surviving serious crime and injury.

Receiving the Action Awards for Contributions in Law and Aging included State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker (District 20, Lawton, MI) for promoting 16 bills in the Michigan Legislature that protect older citizens and Paul Bridgewater, President and CEO of the Detroit Area Agency on Aging.

The Call to Justice Awards were presented in partnership with the Access to Justice Fund of the State Bar of Michigan and the Ingham County Bar Association.

Sponsors included Jackson National Life Insurance Company, Miller Johnson, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, Foster Swift Collins & Smith, Thomas M. Cooley Law School, PNC Bank, KempKlien Law Firm, Chalgian & Tripp Law Offices, Ameriprise Financial, Area Agency on Aging 1-B, Thomas Trainer and Detroit Area Agency on Aging.

Special thanks were given to Abrams Law Firm, Consumers Energy, George Hamilton Foley, PC, Gordon Food Services, Mall and Malisow & Cooney, PC.

About Elder Law of Michigan: Elder Law of Michigan is 501c3 charitable non-profit organization. Elder Law's mission is to promote and protect the rights, health and economic well being of people as they age or people with disabilities by providing information, advocacy, legal advice and professional services. ELM seeks to be themost trusted resource for adults to ensure that they are safe, informed, treated fairly and economically secure as they age.

For more information about the services provided by Elder Law or to make a contribution, please contact them at 1-866-400-9164 or www.elderlawofmi.org.

Published: Thu, May 10, 2012