December 2018 Newsletter Headlines
Employee Highlight of the Month
December - Employee Highlight of the Month
Yolanda Houston - Information Specialist I
Family - Domestic Division

Q.  How many years have you been employed with the Court?
A.   I began in 2004 in the records room at FOC.  I have worked in many departments, including Medical, Financial Services, Order Entry, and Court Clerical Services.  I have worked for Ref. Meisel and I currently work for Ref. Letourneau-McAvoy. 
Q.  Do you have any skills or talents that most people don't know about?
A.   I am an event planner and caterer. My most memorable events have been wedding and baby showers.  I also help with departmental luncheons.
Q.  If you could be anywhere other than here right this minute, where would you be?
A.   I would choose to be somewhere warm near water with my significant other, my daughter, and my son-in-law.
Q.  Who do you admire, and why?
A.   I admire my father, Sam Clora, because he is a hard, dedicated business owner.  He owns a barber shop. I also admire my daughter Gabrielle who owns her own salon.
Q.  Finish this sentence.  On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me...
A.   At Second Ebenezer Church.
Q.  What do you think are the best skills that you bring to your job?
A.   Well organized, motivator, and I bring harmony to the department.
Q.  What are you happiest doing when you're not working?
A.   Praying. Cooking. Shopping.  Spending one-on-one time with my daughter.

Q.  What is your personal motto?
A.   God is not going to give you more than you can handle.
Q.  What are some causes you care about?
A.   Cancer awareness. Fibromyalgia.  Interstitial Cystitis.
Q.  What is your dream job?
A.   My dream job is to own a restaurant.  I would start with soul food. I am famous for cornbread casserole, chicken fried rice, and cabbage and collard with smoked turkey. 
Q.  Any final remarks?
A.   Final remarks, "I am very strong. I'm honest, loyal, and hard working."
Criminal Division Recognition Celebration

On December 17, 2018 the Criminal Division hosted an Employee Holiday Luncheon and Recognition Celebration.  During the festive two-hour event employees working for the court for 10-14 years and for more than 23 years were acknowledged and received recognition.  The event also served as the grand opening of the new employee lunchroom and Restorative Practices room located on the 5th floor of the building. 
Presiding Judge Timothy Kenny and Deputy Court Administrator Alisa Shannon greeted staff and presented each honoree with a token of appreciation from the Third Circuit Court - Criminal Division.  


 Pictured left to right: Tinetra Burns, Darlene Owens, Yvonne Barnett-Greene (Manager of Specialty Court Services-Criminal Division) and Andrea Smith

Speaker: Patrick Stropes, Growth Works, 
Peer Recovery Support Services

Speakers (l to r): Professor Lauren Rousseau, Law Professor at WMU-Cooley Law School and Western-Wayne County Chapter President of Families Against Narcotics (FAN) and Darryl Dewberry, CEO of Abundant Recovery Services
On Saturday, November 17, 2018, 120 participants of Third Circuit Court's Adult Drug Treatment Court (ADTC) were treated to a seated luncheon with the scenic Detroit River and Canadian riverfront as their backdrop at the Holiday Relapse Prevention Forum.  Third Circuit Court co-hosted the event at the Waterview Loft in Detroit with the Initiatives for the Authority.
Keynote speakers addressed substance use triggers associated with the holidays and provided poignant personal stories of addiction and recovery, family stories of addiction, and reflective insight on how to identify and manage triggers. 
Darlene Owens, the Director of Substance Use Disorder, provided NARCAN 101 training provided free NARCAN kits; Andrea Smith, Director of Clinical Practice Improvement, spoke about suicide prevention and the warning signs and myths; and, Clinical Specialist, Tinetra Burns, addressed the effects of trauma and how they can lead to addiction.

Several vendors were on-site to provide information regarding Substance Use Disorder Prevention, Treatment and Recovery services, Peer Support services, and Relapse Prevention Counseling services. 

Civil Division Holiday Gathering
Civil Division staff, including judges, court clerks, law clerks/AAs, deputies, and court reporters, and staff from the offices of the General Counsel and Court Administration gathered on December 5 to enjoy lunch together and celebrate the holiday season. It was a fun opportunity to socialize and reflect on the past year. The Civil Division looks forward to a great 2019! 

Books and December Holiday
Traditions and Celebrations

Habari Gani? This is the Swahili greeting of the Kwanzaa season and it means, "What's the news?"
Third Circuit Court and its Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan Team are committed to recognizing the commonality and valuing the differences of the human experiences of our colleagues and the public. December is an opportune time to gain perspective and understanding of various cultures and traditions, such as Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas.
Here are a few books available on Amazon to share with the young people in our lives to expand their knowledge of these holiday celebrations:
Latke, The Lucky Dog by Ellen Fisher
Hanukkah Lights by David Martin
My First Kwanzaa by Karen Katz
Together for Kwanzaa by Juwanda G. Ford
Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Kwanzaa begins on December 26 and ends January 1, each day a different principle is celebrated: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani).  In the response to the Habari Gani greeting, the responder announces the principle that is being celebrated that day.
For more educational materials on December holidays celebrated across the world, visit

The Court will be closed from
Monday, December 24, 2018 to 
Tuesday, January 1, 2019 
for the holiday season.

Yellow Stripes


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Seasons Greetings,

December is a month of peace and kindness.  As we approach the holiday season, it is good to remember and be thankful for all of the blessings that have been bestowed upon us.  When you perform a random act of kindness, it benefits another person, but often it gives you greater joy.  As we go through the month and attend the many parties and celebrations, remember our gifts of kindness are often free and can last long after the festivities.  So, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy Holidays.   Peace and Joy.

Erin Lincoln
Wayne County Friend of the Court

Third Circuit Court would like to congratulate Erin Lincoln on her appointment as the Wayne County Friend of the Court.
Erin spent a short time practicing law in a firm before following her public service passion to a position as a Staff Attorney with the Wayne County Friend of the Court, in 2008, working with Judge Maria L. Oxholm and Judge Deborah Ross Adams. Erin became a supervisor and was later appointed as the Legal Director-Assistant Friend of the Court. After five years in that capacity, she began serving as the Interim Friend of the Court/Deputy Court Administrator for the Family Domestic Division. Erin's service in various positions has laid a foundational understanding of policies and practices that she brings with her to her current position and allows her to make informed and knowledgeable decisions while leading the Friend of the Court. 

Erin has made it a primary goal to focus on spreading education about the Friend of the Court through outreach in the community. Realizing that personally appearing in the Friend of the Court offices can be a scary and logistically difficult process for the litigants, Erin has grown a team of Friend of the Court employee volunteers who regularly appear at outreach events.  Erin has been instrumental in forming relationships and developing outreaches with organizations such as the UAW, Resource Network, Focus: HOPE, ACCESS and La Sed, among others. Between January 2018 and October 2018, these outreaches brought Friend of the Court information to over 3,200 people. 

Erin hopes to continue to expand these outreach events in the upcoming years by collaborating with community partners, agencies and Judges in the county to spread the word about these events.  Under Erin's guidance, the Friend of the Court has also held several bench warrant amnesty events which dismissed over 700 warrants and collected over $160,000 in child support.  

Erin is a trained mediator. She has attended and participated in numerous leadership trainings including Crucial Conversations, Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, Speed of Trust training, Restorative Practices training and many more. She has been asked to speak at the Institute of Continuing Legal Education's Family Law Institute, Michigan Family Support Council Conferences, Criminal Advocacy Program attorney trainings and others.  Erin graduated from the University of Michigan in 2003 and from Wayne State Law School in 2006.  She lives in Royal Oak, Michigan with her husband, three children and two cats. 

Judge Edward Joseph
2018 Stakeholder of the Year

The Wayne County System of Care, which is a spectrum of effective community-based services for children and youth with Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) and their families, recognized Judge Joseph for his work on the Third Circuit Court Juvenile Mental Health Court.  The mission of the 3rd Circuit Court's Juvenile Mental Health Court is to identify youth with mental health issues and divert them from the formal court docket; to connect youth and their families to appropriate services in the community; to reduce the number of youth with mental health issues who reoffend; to increase adherence to appropriate services for mental health issues by using a multidisciplinary team approach to develop and monitor service plans and compliance.

The Office of General Counsel Gives Back

This year the Office of General Counsel decided to give back to the community as part of its Holiday Celebration by taking a court service day.  The service day provided an opportunity for the Office to give back to the community while allowing staff an opportunity to become better acquainted with the three staff members who joined the team in the past year. 
They decided to volunteer at Gleaners Community Food Bank.  In 2017, Gleaners secured, stored, and distributed 42 million pounds of food to those in need through 499 community partners and programs. To put it another way, that means Gleaners provided more than 35.1 million meals and helped roughly 428,700 people in need. Produce accounted for 42 percent of the food in pounds distributed, roughly 17.5 million pounds.
The General Counsel service team worked as a group with other volunteers and managed to gather, pack, and prepare for distribution over 7,574 pounds of food which Gleaners expected to help feed about 6,059 people in the community. They had a great experience giving back to the community and are already researching ways to volunteer for next year.


The Judges of the Third Circuit Court Community Service Team joined in the holiday spirit of giving by supporting the annual Holiday Celebration of For The Seventh Generation.  With over 120 children and families in foster care showing up for the gala event, the judges not only donated goodie-filled stockings for the children, but also manned the wrapping and craft stations as well.  These Santa's elves were busy making sure that the children and families that attended were assured a very merry holiday season. 

Each year For The Seventh Generation hosts this program to provide needed gifts for children and families in Wayne County's child welfare system.  Included in the festivities are a visit from Santa, pizza, popcorn, cookies and candy, crafts for the children and gifts not only for the kids, but also a "shopping" area for each child to find a special gift for someone in their life that they care for.  New coats, hats, scarves and gloves are also provided for every child who comes through the door thanks to the generosity of the Grosse Pointe Rotary Club, St. John Neumann, Royal Oak Unity, and Bethel Lutheran churches.

For The Seventh Generation's mission is to engage the community's generosity so that all children in the child welfare system have access to resources that will enable them to thrive in a safe, loving and stable home, and create opportunities for these children to pursue their dreams and become productive members of our community.  Co-founded in 2005 by Judge Kelly Ramsey and former Detroit Bar Foundation Executive Director, Lorraine Weber, the program administers an online network of child welfare professionals who identify the specific unmet needs of children and families in the Detroit metropolitan region child welfare system and connects the needs of these children and families with community resources and donors to meet those needs. In addition, through a number of annual fundraising activities, they secure funding for the purchase and distribution of goods and services as well. The organization also makes direct donations of goods and services through programs such as The Help Closet, Family Days, Busy Bee Book Fair, Holiday Celebration, and their Buy a Bed for a Child program.
The organization's President and CEO, Lorraine Weber, had this to say about the contribution of the Third Circuit Judges. "The philosophy of For The Seventh Generation is a call to action for our community to engage with and support the lives and well-being of every child who is at risk in their home. We seek to ensure that children in our charge do more than survive - they must thrive.  The judges of Wayne County's bench see every day the damage that is done to our children and the cost we all pay as a result.  We are so grateful that they have chosen to devote their time, talents, and treasure to our work.  Their presence this year was a wonderful early holiday gift!"
For more information about For The Seventh Generation and how you can help a child in need, contact them at or like them on Facebook or LinkedIn. 

The Juvenile Section celebrated the hard working members of staff with certain tenure with the Court (10-14 years of service and 23 years or more). Chief Judge Robert J. Colombo, Jr. and incoming Chief Judge Tim Kenny were present to bring their expressions of gratitude to staff for their hard work and dedication.  Presiding Judge Virgil Smith also received a plaque from the Michigan Supreme Court, presented by SCAO Region 1 Director, Judge Paul Paruk.  Incoming Presiding Judge Edward Joseph was also present to take part in the celebration. 

Front row from left: Cherece Hurley, Terian Daily and 
Cindy Yeagins Brown.
Rear row from left: ECA Zenell Brown, Benita Cheatom, Stephanie Witucki, ToieLynn Smith, A'Llana Jones, Sekai Broaden, and Jalona Colvard.

The Court's Restorative Practices team was honored with an invitation from the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) to present at a workshop at the 2018 IIRP World Conference in Detroit which was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel September 24 - 26, 2018.

The theme of the conference, Restoring Community, made the Court's team an ideal choice for making a presentation because the Court's 2016 implementation of Restorative Practices made it a groundbreaker in the non-education arena. Until recent years, Restorative Practices (RP) has been primarily instituted at schools. In addition to the goal of empowering staff and agents of the Court to communicate in a restorative manner, the hope is that those at the Court who acquire tools for interacting restoratively also use those tools in other aspects of their lives - at home; community meetings and interactions; places of worship, etc.

During their presentation entitled Stories of Restorative Practices in the Workplace, members of the Court's RP team expounded on topics such as: Building an Internal Support Team, Adapting Restorative Practices in the Workplace; Using Circles Proactively, Implementing Restorative Practices in a Public Sector Environment; and How Restorative Practices have Migrated into Personal Lives. The presentation's goal was to provide information about the Court's experience that informs other non-educational organizations about the benefits of providing RP training to their staffs, and encourages them to embark on the journey to become restorative organizations. Our presentation included lessons learned, pointers about how to effectively roll out RP, successes and how they were achieved, and cautionary tales about what we've learned along the way about what doesn't work so well.

The presentation, which was in the interactive "Engage" format, was attended by a capacity crowd of local and international participants. The 90 minute session was a combination of slide show, narratives, and group activity, with many questions and comments from the audience. Feedback from participants affirmed for the presentation team that sharing our experience was informative and inspirational.

The RP team was also bolstered by the support of the Honorable Deborah Thomas of the Criminal Division, the Family Division's Assistant Director of FAME Priscilla Wells, and Executive Court Administrator Zenell Brown who were in attendance at the conference.
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