Judges put on dancing shoes to raise funds for foundation

By Melanie Deeds

Legal News

Even if you haven't watched the television show "Dancing with the Stars," it would be nearly impossible not to know something about it.

Completing its 10th season earlier this year, the show has featured actors and reality show stars, Olympic athletes and football players -- even an astronaut.

Taking a page from that hit show, the Macomb County Bar Foundation has decided to do its own version of the TV production -- with an intriguing twist.

On Thursday, July 15, the foundation will host "Dancing with the Judges" at Andiamo Celebrity Showroom in Warren.

The event, which includes dinner and an open bar along with the dance competition, will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Andiamo's, located at 7096 E. 14 Mile Road.

The cost is $90 a ticket, $75 for Young Lawyers and court staff members. To register, call the MCBA at (586) 468-2940.

An article promoting the event in the Macomb County Bar Association's Bar Briefs noted that the show "boasts 'three opinionated judges, eleven professional dancers, eleven celebrities, tons of glitter and spray tans, and one Tom Bergeron.'"

"The Macomb County Bar Foundation trumps the original," the article continued, "with ten real judges dancing with Detroit area professional dancers, a little glitter and costume and the MCBA's own Anthony Urbani as our entertaining master of ceremonies."

Rick Troy, executive director of the MCBA who also serves as a foundation director, said plans for the event came as he and Urbani "brainstormed some crazy ideas for a fundraiser that would involve our judges and provide an opportunity for attorneys to share a night out with their spouses.

"This is one that stuck," he said.

Troy said the judges were approached and "had a range of responses, but at one point we had 12 judges willing to participate.

"To our surprise, they wanted to do it," he said.

Troy said scheduling conflicts and one injury brought the list of participants down to eight -- Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Pat Donofrio, Macomb County Circuit Court Judges Mary Chrzanowski, John Foster, Antonio Viviano, Matthew Switalski, James Biernat and Peter Maceroni along with Probate Court Judge Kathryn George.

The MCBA director said the performing judges "have been working extremely hard in the studio preparing for this gig.

"Honestly they train hard with their professional dance instructors and they are looking real good," he said.

The panel of judges has yet to be announced but Troy said organizers have "some metro Detroit celebs on the hook."

If all goes well, this might just be the start of a run of such fundraisers, according to Troy.

"We've even had some district court judges say they want to participate," he noted. "What about Dancing with the Judges 2011?"

The event has sparked quite a stir among the judges as well as others in the legal community, according to Urbani

"I'd say it's a bit of a frenzy," said the Roseville attorney. "Everybody's talking about it."

"The response on the part of the judges has been overwhelming," he said.

Urbani said he's heard there's even been some practicing going on in the courthouse hallways.

Regarding that earlier brainstorming session, Urbani said he and Troy also discussed the possibility of an attorney talent night.

"They could play an instrument, tell jokes, all sorts of things," he said. "I think there's plenty of talent out there."

The fundraiser will help the foundation continue to provide law-related educational events such as the Law Day student essay and poster contest as well as the Lawyer Teacher Partnership program.

In addition, funds raised at the event will be used to aid the foundation's scholarship program that helps law students complete their education.

Published: Mon, Jun 21, 2010