Judge Archie Brown named to new business court

Court dockets specializing in business disputes will soon be ready to operate in the wake of the Michigan Supreme Court's recent assignment of 18 judges, including Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Archie Brown, to "business court."

Public Act 333 of 2012 requires circuit courts with three or more judges to have "business courts" for business and commercial cases where the amount at stake is over $25,000; circuit courts with fewer judges may choose to have a business court docket. Business court cases include those where all the parties are "business enterprises," as well as disputes between a business and individuals connected with it, such as employees, directors, owners, or shareholders. Some claims on behalf or against a nonprofit may also come before business courts, as can cases about corporate governance, finance, organization, and others.

Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. said that business courts "complement Michigan judicial branch's three-part reform plan: Court performance, technology, efficiency--with the best possible service to the public as the goal."

The business court act calls for electronic filing of legal documents "whenever possible," as opposed to paper filings. PA 333 also encourages business courts to use telephone or video conferencing, and early use of alternative dispute resolution. Business courts' written opinions "shall be made available on an indexed website," the act provides.

Brown told The Legal News that prior to being appointed to the bench, his practice was primarily business related.

"Once we, as a court, became aware of the new statute last fall I expressed my interest in the assignment," he said. "I look forward to implementing such a court in Washtenaw County."

Young said the stress on technology and prompt resolution of disputes "is very much in the spirit of the reform plan for Michigan courts. The focus, first and always, has to be on public service. That is what we mean by the slogan we've adopted for our court reform plan; 'Courts working smarter for a better Michigan.'"

The business court judges will serve terms expiring April 1, 2019. The business courts are scheduled to accept their first filings by July 1.

Published: Thu, Apr 11, 2013