WMU-Cooley Law Review honors top scholarly briefs

LANSING – The WMU-Cooley Law Review honored attorneys Steven Helton, Ann Sherman, Chris Allen, Kyla Barranco and Tonya Jeter during the  37th annual Distinguished Brief Award ceremony on March 2. The ceremony recognizes the most scholarly briefs filed with the Michigan Supreme Court in 2022. 

These briefs were evaluated by judges using seven set criteria: question presented, point headings, statement of case, argument and analysis, style, mechanics and best overall brief. The purpose  is to promote excellence in legal writing. 

The judges included: Michigan Supreme Court Justice Megan K. Cavanagh, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth M. Welch, Judge Amy Ronayne Krause, Judge Michelle M. Rick, Judge Michael J. Riordan, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, and WMU-Cooley Professor Christi Henke. 

The winning briefs will be published in the WMU-Cooley Law Review. 

Helton, Assistant Defender with the State Appellate Defender Office, was honored for his brief in the case of The People of the State of Michigan v. Robert Lance Propp. This case involved the type of showing indigent defendants are required to make to establish their right to a state appointed expert and whether prosecutors would be permitted to establish a defendant’s propensity to commit domestic violence through hearsay evidence. 

Four attorneys from the Michigan Attorney General’s office, Solicitor General Ann Sherman, Assistant Solicitor General Chris Allen, and Assistant Attorneys General Kyla Barranco and Tonya Jeter, were also honored. The attorneys drafted the Michigan Supreme Court brief in the Rouch World, LLC v. Department of Civil Rights case decided in July 2022. The brief argued that the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act’s prohibition of discrimination “because of . . . sex” necessarily encompassed sexual-orientation discrimination because those concepts are intertwined. 

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein delivered the keynote address, saying in part, “Ultimately, our picture of the law goes beyond the court. The reason why these awards are so significant is because for the most part, cases are won and lost off of the briefs that are submitted. The brief brings the case to life. It brings the facts to life, it brings the issue to life, it brings the clients to life, and it brings the law to life.”

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