Duly Noted

MI Supreme Court and trial judges get award for jury innovations
Michigan’s comprehensive jury reforms, and the 12 trial court judges who tested them, are being honored along with the Michigan Supreme Court by the National Center for State Courts. The Supreme Court and judges are the recipients of the 2012 G. Thomas Munsterman Award for Jury Innovation, given annually to recognize significant improvements or innovations for juries, NCSC Pres. Mary C. McQueen said.

“Michigan’s...project demonstrated a sustained and comprehensive commitment to enhancing jury service through thorough testing of in-court reforms and revisions of procedural rules,” said McQueen.

NCSC Vice President and General Counsel Robert Baldwin will present the award to the Court and pilot project judges following the Court’s first oral argument on Oct. 9 in the old Supreme Court courtroom in the Capitol building, Lansing.

On Sept. 1, 2011, the Michigan Supreme Court adopted a comprehensive package of jury reform court rule amendments, despite initial and intense opposition from some Michigan attorneys and judges who feared the changes, Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr., explained. Before adopting the rules, the Court conducted a two-year pilot project in which 12 judges tested proposed reforms in actual trials and reported on their experiences. The Court also surveyed jurors, who strongly favored the reforms, such as permitting jurors to take notes, submit questions for witnesses in both civil and criminal cases, and discuss the evidence among themselves before final deliberations.

The pilot project judges include: Thomas P. Boyd, Ingham County; William J. Caprathe (retired) and Kenneth W. Schmidt, Bay County; Richard J. Celello, Dickin-
son/Iron/Menominee counties; Beth Gibson, Newberry, Luce/Mackinac counties; Timothy G. Hicks, Muskegon County; Richard W. May, Charlevoix/Emmet counties; Wendy L. Potts, Oakland County; Donald L. Sanderson, Hillsdale County; Paul E. Stutesman, 45th Circuit Court, St. Joseph County; David Viviano, 16th Circuit Court, Macomb County; Peter J. Wadel, Lake County Trial Court/79th, Ludington.