July/August 2018 Newsletter Headlines
Employee Highlight of the Month
Employee Highlight of the Month
The Detroit Urban League

Aretha Franklin
March 25, 1942 - 
August 16, 2018

Artist Isiah


August - Employee Highlight of the Month
Toby Horner 
Deputy Chief Financial Officer  Administration

Toby Horner has been employed with the Court since February 2017.

Q.  What is an enjoyable part of your job?
A.   Helping to lead a cohesive competent team in a pleasant environment and successfully achieving a demanding task, mastering IVD grant.

Q.  What are some career highlights ?
A.   I have a background in internal audit and fraud investigation and was instrumental in a bust for a large corporation.  I also worked at Easter Seals as the Controller and Interim Chief Financial Officer.

Q.  What is your dream job?
A.   Work is important.  I enjoy the time in whatever my current job is.

Q.  What's a little known fact that you are willing to share?
A.   I am Superhero's fan.  I enjoyed the Avengers, Dead Pool and Justice League movies.  Batman is my favorite superhero.

Q.  What University did you go to?
A.   I went to Macomb Community and Walsh College.

Q.  If you could be anywhere other than here right this minute, where would you be?
A.   I would want to be at San Francisco's Ocean Beach.  It's my favorite place and I try to visit there at least annually. 

Q.  Who do you admire, and why?
A.   I enjoy Beth Hart.  She is a blues and jazz performer.  I travel to see her performances.  For a listen check out:

Q.  Finish this sentence.  On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me...
A.   You will find me in Starbucks reading. 

Q.  Name three words that describe you.
A.   Driven, passionate, balanced.  

Q.  What is your personal motto?
A.   If you have a goal you want to achieve, it can be done if you put your mind to it. 

Q.  What are you happiest doing when you're not working?
A.   When I am reading and working out.  I enjoy the gym and nature.  


July - Employee Highlight of the Month
Nancy Hames
Judicial Secretary
Criminal Division

Nancy Hames has been employed with the Court for 19 years.

Q.  Do you have any skills that most people don't know about?
A.   I work well with others, am resourceful, and I like to problem solve.

Q.  What are you happiest doing when you're not working ?
A.  I like to spend time with my family and friends, siblings, parents, children, nieces, and nephews.

Q.  Who do you admire, and why?
A.   I admire my mom and dad (Dan & Margaret Grady).  They've been married 65 years.  I grew up in a happy home and they are always supportive.

Q.  What college/university did you go to?
A.   I got my BBA at Western Michigan and MBA in finance at Wayne State.  I was formerly in banking, campaign treasurer.  I worked for Judge Fresard for 14 years and Judge Boykin for 6 years.

Q.  What's a little known fact that you are willing to share?
A.   I am an online art auction junkie.  I have bid on paintings, mental work, vases.  I give them away for birthdays and keep some treasures for my personal collection.  My secret to success is to bid the last five minutes.



In addition to student interns, during the summer the Court has been able to arrange and host student visits. Arial Bouie and Tanya Elzy from Western Michigan University at Cooley Law School (Auburn Hills) had an opportunity to meet with Chief Judge Colombo and Judge Leslie Kim Smith to learn about their career paths and view the historical pictures of the bench.


Judge Annette Berry is hosting two interns this summer from France, Clara Charlotin (Versailles, France) and Lydie Gosset (Paris, France).  Both are enrolled in the University of Michigan-Dearborn Criminal Justice Program and are studying to become judges in France.


The summer also allows 3cc the opportunity for community outreach.  We are grateful for all of our partners and volunteers.


Fifth Third Bank Outreach

The Wayne County MDHHS and Park West Foundation
celebrating graduating Foster Care high schoolers

Deborah Nelson & Deborah Price
African American World Festival


JMHC Gleaners Food Bank 
Community Service Project

On July 13, 2018, the Juvenile Mental Health Court's (JMHC) staff, parents, and participants worked a shift at Gleaners Food Bank.  Gleaner's is one of the largest food banks in the state of Michigan, distributing millions of pounds of food each year to people in need.  Volunteers are one of Gleaner's greatest resources, because they receive such large donations, they need help sorting and storing it safely. 

Judge Joseph, the Supervising Judge of JMHC; Sonya Ristic, Manager of Specialty Court Services; Deborah Nelson, JMHC Program Coordinator; Janeen Abdur-Rahman, JMHC Case Manager; Clinic for Child Study staff Dr. Lindsay Carr; therapists Cora Garth and Pal Brooks; and Vanessa Issom-Jackson, Parent Support Partner, turned out with five parents and ten participants.  JMHC sorted 500 pounds of cherries donated by a local farm for distribution to people in need. 


On June 27, 2018, the Juvenile Section of the Family Division of the Third Judicial Circuit Court celebrated Family Reunification Day at the Federal Reserve Building in Detroit. The day was set aside by the court to honor the reunification of families whose children have been in foster care. The court takes pride in its work to reunify families.  Three families were selected to symbolize the hundreds of families that have been reunified by the Juvenile Division in the last year. In attendance were Chief Judge Robert J. Colombo, Jr.; Presiding Judge Virgil Smith; and many of the judges of the Juvenile Division.  The Department of Health and Human Services also participated in honoring these families.  It takes a joint effort by the Court, the Department of Health and Human Services, attorneys, and workers to assist these families in overcoming challenges so that they could be reunified.  This day represented the great accomplishments of all of these people.


The Detroit Urban League of Detroit & Southeastern Michigan and the State Bar of Michigan Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee (DIAC) kicked of the Face of Justice Program on Sunday, June 24, 2018.  Students enrolled in the Urban League's College Club had the opportunity to hear from Judge Michael E. Wagner, Judge Patricia L. Jefferson,
Judge Austin William Garrett of the 36 th District Court, as well as from Gregory Conyers, the Director of the Diversity of the State Bar and Third Circuit Court Executive Administrator, Zenell  B. Brown.   University of Detroit-Mercy Law School students Cheryl Mitchell and Jayla Emerson also had the opportunity to share about the college and law school experience.

The program continues on July 24, 2018, when students will visit the 36 th District Court and then attend "jet mentoring" and additional information sessions with attorneys and members of the judicial system at the Wayne County Community College District Downtown.

There are many opportunities for lawyers and judges to volunteer through the DIAC as a mentor to interact with the Detroit-area high school students.  They may register at 

The Face of Justice program was introduced in Michigan by Judge Michelle M. Rick of the 29
th Circuit Court, who is the Director for the District Seven of the National Association of Women Judges . 

In 1988, the Urban League of Detroit & Southeastern Michigan organized the College Club as part of the National Urban League's Education Initiative to increase the number of minority students pursuing education beyond the high school level, and to create fun, positive and educationally enriching activities for students.  College Club also offers a variety of information about scholarship programs to assist parents and students with the hefty cost of college tuition.

The Detroit Urban League's College Club is:
  • Open to all high school students who attend public or private schools in the city of Detroit and surrounding communities.
  • Provides academic, career and financial aid counseling to its members and their families.  
  • Offers a variety of activities and programs including National Urban League Youth Leadership Summit, academic workshops, campus visits, field trips, seminars and much more.  
More information about the College Club Program is available by contacting the Urban League's Workforce Career Development & Youth Initiatives Department at (313) 831- 5132.


  Pop-Up Literacy In the Park

Black Child Development Institute-Detroit Chapter's mission is advocating and educating black children.  
Literacy: Michigan schools showed the largest decline in third-grade reading levels among 11 comparable states in the last three years, according to a new education report.  A new analysis of student achievement in Michigan's public schools raises concerns about big declines in proficiency among third-graders, struggles that are impacting kids across all demographics. 

"White students saw a 6.5 percentage point drop, from 58.2% proficient in 2014 to 51.7% in 2016. That compares with black students, who declined 3.3 percentage points, from 23.2% to 19.9%; Hispanic students, who declined 5.2 percentage points, from 37.2% to 32%, and Asian students, who declined 6.3 percentage points, from 69.7% to 63.4%. Meanwhile, low-income students (those eligible for free or reduced price lunch), declined 6.2 percentage points, from 35.3% to 29.1%; while higher-income students declined 6.4 percentage points, from 66.8% to 60.4%."

To help more students be proficient by the end of third grade, BCDI-D p articipated in "Pop-Up Literacy" to ensure that children have access to books over the summer months and have fun.   There were five events at various locations throughout Metro Detroit.  We read aloud to the children, sponsored an activity based on the reading, and the children choose their very own book to add to their library. Each child was given a snack and it was all free!     
When we participate and give back, Change Occurs!

Join our E-mail List and receive our monthly E-mail newsletter from the Third Judicial Circuit Court and stay informed. 

Please send us your name and email address to -

  Happy Summer,

In addition to the regular summer fun of vacations, fireworks, and ice cream, summers at the Court includes interns and outreach. We dedicate the summer edition of the newsletter to our Summer Intern Program. We are grateful that students believe our Court can play a meaningful role in their career path, that university and law school deans trust us to provide a valuable intern experience, that our Administrative Team coordinates the behind-the-scenes process, and that our Judges are willing to host intern students.  Enjoy the program highlights shared in this edition and enjoy your summer.

Judge Lucille Watts
November 9, 1920 - June 22, 2018

Judge Watts was both the first African American woman elected to both the Common Pleas County (currently known as the 36 th District Court) and the Third Circuit Court.  She served on Third Circuit Court from 1981 - 1992.  She was a founding member of the Association of Black Judges of Michigan.  She was a lifelong member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.  She graduated from the Detroit College of Law in 1962.  

Chief Judge Robert J. Colombo, Jr. said, "Judge Watts was an excellent colleague.  There was a grace about her when she entered a room.  She had a superb judicial temperament.  Her legal opinions were thoughtful and well-reasoned.  Judge Watts was a member of the committee that converted the Civil Division docket from a master calendar to an individual calendar, which is the way we manage cases today.  One of my best memories of Judge Watt was her hospitality.  She invited the entire Bench to her beautiful home on the Detroit Golf Course for dinner and drinks.  Judge Watts was a memorable judge." 

Judge Patricia Fresard

Hon. Patricia Fresard

Hon. Patricia Fresard received the Frank Murphy Award at The Detroit Bar Association's 182 nd Annual Meeting held at the Detroit Club.  In recognition of her leadership and service, which exemplify the role of the legal profession in upholding the ideals of integrity, safety, and fairness, and in appreciation of her innovative approaches to improving the efficient administration of justice.  Her respect for litigants and dedication to improving communication between the bench and bar are a shining example of professionalism and civility.

The Third Judicial Circuit Summer Internship Program hosted 32 Interns this summer.  Four Civil Judges, two Family Judges, and nine Criminal Judges hosted interns.  Court Administration also hosted an Intern involved with Michigan State's InnovateGov's program. Judge Halloran once again took unofficial honors as the judge with the most interns.  He hosted eight Interns in his chambers. Judge Berry hosted two study abroad law students, visiting from France.  Many of the Interns were Canadian citizens enrolled in U of D Mercy's Canadian and American Dual JD Law program, while undergraduate Interns joined the Court from Michigan State and U of M Dearborn. The Court's Interns also collaborated with Interns who joined us from the U.S. District Court and Michigan Children's Law Center. In addition to their other duties, this summer's Interns participated in tours of each Court Division campus. The tours were designed to familiarize the Interns with the processes and procedures of the courtrooms and offices that work with or in the court. The tours also gave the Interns an insight into the paths taken by various speakers to their specific positions within the legal system.  As aspiring attorneys, this internship provided vital information of what is expected of an Attorney in Third Judicial Circuit Court.   

The Tours and Speakers included: Civil Division -Chief Judge Colombo provided a history of the Court.  He also explained the administrative responsibilities of the Chief Judge, who oversees the Court in addition to performing those duties regularly associated with a sitting judge whose duties focus on presiding over cases. The tour visited the Clerk's Office, Record Room and PPO Offices to orient the Interns on the process a case takes in the Court and the critical support functions needed to ensure that the process works. Family Division - Presiding Judge McCarthy and Deputy Court Administrator Kent Weichmann spoke to the Family Court Division's mission to serve and educate families.  The Family Division tour covered the same offices that families visit each day.  It included operations providing customer service, drug testing, and family assessments.   Criminal Division - Presiding Judge Kenny and Deputy Court Administrator Alisa Shannon spoke to the Interns about the court programs, high court case volume, the massive case load for Prosecutors, and internship possibilities. They were provided with materials and knowledge of what is expected as an attorney for the Criminal Division Bench and a tour of the many departments working with the courts. Judge Lillard invited the Interns to observe a trial and spent time explaining the case and process. Juvenile Division - Presiding Judge Smith and Deputy Court Administrator Richard Smart shared the passion that the Juvenile Division shows each day to keep families together.  The Interns toured all three buildings used by the Juvenile Court at the Lincoln Hall of Justice.  They also visited Judge Joseph's chambers and had lunch and conversation with Chief Judge Smith.
Thank you to all the Court Administrators and Staff volunteering their time, knowledge and advice; Tammi Palmer, Case Processing; Lori Kaczmarek, AA to DCA Kent Weichmann; Tom Smellie, FOC Management Assistant; Keith Clark, Prosecutor's Office; Karen Smith, AA to DCA Alisa Shannon; Karon Lee, AA to General Counsel's Office Criminal Division; Katie Sanfilippo, AA to DCA Richard Smart; Sheila O'Brien, AA to Chief Referee Wilson; Tamika Matlock and Karrie McCrary, both with Assured Family Services. 

Special thanks to Cheryl Jordan, Cynthia DePaulis, Rementa Canyon, Charlene Pearson, Belinda Roberts and Deborah Turner, all from the Clerk's Office; Lynda McGhee and Robyn McCoy both with the Michigan Children's Law Center.   

Among the comments offered by the interns about the tours and information received, "I felt I learned a lot about the Juvenile branch of the Legal System, listening to Director Smart about the overall duties of the court" and "The tours were very informational.  I loved hearing from the judges and hearing their advice." 

Special thanks to Chief Judge Denise Hood and Jim Carroll, Law Clerk to Chief Judge Hood, who invited our Interns to participate in their U.S. District Intern events; Lisa Stroud, AA to General Counsel Richard Lynch, for coordinating the program.  We look forward to next year's program and possible collaborations with other Intern programs.

I believe that opportunity is the key to success.   In order to reach success, you need to take advantage of opportunities as they arise in the real world. Three years ago, I took a risk when I chose Detroit Cristo Rey High School, a school with a reputation for hard work and challenging academics that is known as "THE SCHOOL THAT WORKS!"  This opportunity literally changed my life, as I had to evaluate my choices and priorities and determine what qualified as success for me. 

When I first started Detroit Cristo Rey High School I experienced change, a lot of change, which I often interpreted as failure.  Because school ended at 4:00 pm, instead of 2:41 pm, I adapted to studying harder in the available time and attending later basketball games and practices.  As school started earlier, I also began waking up at 5:00 am in the morning rather than the accustomed 6:45 am. 

I studied hard for classes, but did not receive the grades that I wanted.  I would often go home and throw my books on the floor because I was frustrated when I did not earn the grade that I wanted or was accustomed to receiving.  I often worried that I would never succeed at Detroit Cristo Rey High School.  When my first report card came, I received a GPA of 2.2.  That night I cried, convinced that "I was a failure and that I would never amount to anything with these grades." 

However, with the support of family, friends, and Cristo Rey, I continued to work hard.  Over the next year, my GPA rose to a 3.0.  When this happened, I cried again.  But this time, they were tears of joy and thoughtful prayer.  I said to myself "wow, I really worked hard for this GPA and I earned it!" 

Others noticed my progress.  I made the honor roll for the first time in high school.  I began tutoring fellow students in biology and other classes.  I started to earn  respect from peers,  who elected me to student council. 

As I stated earlier in this paper "opportunity is the key to success.   In order to reach success, you need to take advantage of opportunities as they arise into the real world."  I took the opportunity to attend Detroit Cristo Rey and I chose to work hard in school.  At the start of my senior year, I received an opportunity that I never imagined I would experience in a million years when I was selected as the first Cristo Rey student to perform work-study at the Third Judicial Circuit Court.  Through this opportunity, I not only learned about the justice system, but I witnessed the internal operations of it.  I had the privilege to meet some wonderful people who truly work hard to make the justice system accessible to the community and who took the time to talk to me about my future plans.  During this wonderful time at the court, I had a chance to get to know Chief Judge Robert J. Colombo, Jr., and his wonderful staff.  I also worked with the Executive Court Administrator, Zenell Brown, who encouraged me to pay attention to the details, and Jeannette, who showed me the value of editing and helped me to develop my computer skills.  I also had a chance to work with Jalona, who is a very caring person, who can be counted upon to help when help is needed.  Matt is someone that I look up to and would call a true role model.  Karen showed me that she really believes in me and reinforced the message that I can go out and do great things in the world regardless of the challenges thrown at me. 

I learned about Human Resources and learned about recruitment and retention of staff within the court. During this great opportunity, I had a chance to work with a wonderful staff who really invested their time and commitment to my success and journey.  I would like to thank them all for the skills they taught me as well as all the fun we had while doing work. I would also like to thank you all for taking me to Texas de Brazil and treating me as if I was really a part of the team! 

I also would like to thank Richard Lynch, Lynn, and Lisa  for welcoming me into the General Counsel's Office and law library.  You taught me what lawyers really do and the resources needed to make it happen. Your welcoming attitude made me feel like I was at home and you showed me that you can work hard and have fun at the same time.  My greatest take away from my time with you is how the work I performed developed my organizational skills! 

I truly wish to thank Chief Judge Robert Colombo.  He believed an 18 year old senior in high school could work in his court and do great work.  During this wonderful time, I had the opportunity to see you frustrated with lawyers who were not prepared for the case before you or just plain happy about your day.  I really appreciate the love and the motivation you gave me.  You believe in my dreams to do great things in life.  You encouraged me to not follow the wrong crowd.  You supported my dreams of becoming a Physician's Assistant in internal medicine. 

During every step of the way, you were always there for me.  You helped me though some difficult times such as selecting my college.  You provided me with daily motivation; that continues to make me stronger and inspires me to do great things in life.  Your example encourages me to one day take on an intern, pay it forward by showing the intern "the ropes" on how to be a great person of character and ambition! 

As I say goodbye, I know that it has been a blessing to work with everyone at the Court.  You have inspired and motivated me.  "Failure is the road for success.  In order to be successful you would need to hit the road hard and harder!"  I thank God and each of you for this wonderful opportunity of working at the court.  Thank you. 

Qortez Tyshawn Brown

The Juvenile Section of the Family Division of the Third Circuit Court hosted the Casey Executive Steering Committee at the Lincoln Hall of Justice on June 26, 2018.  The Casey Executive Steering Committee provides guidance and support to five Court initiatives that are designed to make the Juvenile Division the best Court of its kind in the country. The five initiatives include:

Becoming a trauma focused Court, servicing children and adhering to the Indian Child Welfare Act, ensuring that psychotropic medication is properly used with the children of the Court, increasing parenting time for children in foster care, and development of a case management system to adjudicate and dispose of cases more quickly while maintaining safety. 

Participants on the committee include Chief Judge Robert J. Colombo, Jr., Presiding Judge Virgil Smith, and Executive Court Administrator Zenell Brown.  Other members include all the judges on the Juvenile Bench, Former Justice Maura Corrigan, and Justice Elizabeth Clement.