October 2021 Newsletter - Third Judicial Circuit of Michigan

Did you know that October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, that Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15th through October 15th, or that Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) was launched nationwide in October 1987? As different as the topics of disability, Hispanic Heritage, and domestic violence initially appear to be, they are all relevant workplace issues for our Court. 

The Court must comply with the American Disability Act to ensure reasonable accommodations are given to employees and court users. Our Human Resources Department receives and processes employee requests; each court building has a contact person who handles court user inquiries, and court user inquiries may also be submitted via email to ADA-Accommodation-Request@3rdcc.org.

The family courts work with the County Clerk and various community service providers to address domestic violence on the PPO (Personal Protection Order) docket. During the pandemic, Judge Kathleen McCarthy, Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Family Division, worked with the bench, administrators, and justice partners to launch an electronic filing system for PPO’s. 

And, Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes the achievements and contributions of Hispanic American champions who have inspired others. There are many Hispanic American champions in our justice system. Justice Sonia Maria Sotomayor was nominated by President Barack Obama on May 26, 2009, and has served on the U.S. Supreme Court since August 8, 2009. She is the third woman and first person of Hispanic ancestry to hold the position. Judge Isidore Torres, who passed away earlier this year, was the first male Hispanic judge on the Third Circuit Court. Our current Chief Pro Tem, Judge Patricia P. Fresard, is our first female Hispanic Judge and her contributions include creating a special mediation docket and the special master’s program to expedite the resolution of civil cases. 

The October observances discussed here are only a few examples of how we as a Court are impacted and impact diversity and inclusion. As a Court, we have made a commitment to be deliberate and intentional as it relates to diversity and inclusion. Soon all Court personnel will receive a copy of the D&I Plan. The D&I Plan relied upon information from staff, judges, and past partners, and public surveys. The first step is to have Court personnel review the plan and offer further insights via a survey. Our justice partners and the public will get opportunities as well to provide input and feedback. 

We want to ensure that we not only know the days of various diverse observations in each month but ensure that our policies and actions are inclusive. 
On Saturday, Sept. 18, the Michigan Association for Justice (MAJ) hosted its 76th Annual Banquet at Ford Field in Detroit. Judge David J. Allen received the 2021 Judicial Excellence Award. This award is given in appreciation for the recipient’s commitment to the law and serving the public. 
Visiting Judge from Japan Program
Although we do not have any judges from Japan visiting at this time, we have reached out to the previous visiting judges to get an update on how they are doing back in Japan. We will highlight what they are up to in our 2020 Annual Report that will be available at the end of the year. 

In July, the Third Circuit Court resumed jury trials in the Criminal and Civil Divisions. Juror safety was a primary concern: how would the Court ensure that those who received juror summons and appeared would feel safe in doing so? The Court instituted health screenings, provided personal protective equipment gear, implemented social distancing throughout the courtroom and courthouse, and installed Plexiglas shields in the courtroom. However, the question remained “Did good intentions and safety protocols have the intended impact?”

To answer the question, the judges and administrators debrief with each impaneled jury panel after the trials for feedback, and every juror was given an opportunity to complete a survey regarding their jury experience. Here are a few of the written comments shared by the jurors.
I was summoned to the Coleman Young Municipal Center for jury selection on Monday, October 4, 2021. I just wanted to share that, despite no one really wanting to be called for jury duty, what a great experience this was. The lady who provided our orientation and the lady who checked us all in (forgive me, I didn’t get their names) while in room 301 were phenomenal. They were very well versed and thorough in their duties and were very efficient. I would also like to share how wonderful Judge Annette Berry was to all of us potential jurors. Having never interacted directly with the court system or a judge before, Hon. Berry was genuine, thankful for our time, and set me at ease during this experience, despite me not being selected as a juror. Thank you all for the hard work you do each and every day. ~W.B.

I would like to provide an additional comment regarding my jury service at the Coleman A. Young Municipal building this morning. All staff was very informative, pleasant, and efficient. Yvette was especially informative and helpful. 
Thank you,

I complete jury duty today at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. I wanted to take a minute to express my thanks for the steps taken to keep people safe during COVID. From the spacing of the seats to the assigning of seats in the jury room to conducting voir dire right in the jury room, it's clear that a great deal of time and effort was put into keeping people safe. Thank you for your efforts.

I was a prospective juror today in the civil court. The case was settled before trial, but we did have to wait 4 hours. 

Wanted to recognize Yvette Blackman for her outstanding service. She was informative, helpful, and downright nice. Give her a raise!

I am not in any way related to her, but she’s a keeper.

Thank you,

I participated in jury duty in a trial that ended on Friday. I'd like to thank the Deputies at FMHJ who were all friendly and extremely professional, as well as Judge Hathaway. And a special shout out to Gina who was amazing. She was constantly checking on her jurors, making sure we had everything we needed, and to be direct, was infinitely more pleasant and attentive than you'd expect from a government employee. 

Way to go Gina! 

The Court will continue to address the needed areas of improvement and ensure juror safety as trials continue. Jury trials are important to our system of democracy, and the Chief Judge, along with all of the Circuit Court Judges, administrators, and staff, thank every citizen who fulfills this civic duty.  
“Tiny Chats”
The National Center for State Court website describes Tiny Chats “as bite-sized annotated videos that touch on specific access to justice topics and court operations.”  Think creative short-form educational videos like School House Rock. Think of themes and motifs like “Dragnet”, “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Lawyer Cat” to help deliver messages on a variety of legal issues: public relations, online dispute resolution, and procurement. The Tiny Chats audience is comprised of judges, court administrators, and staff, giving them a glimpse as to what other courts are working on. The Tiny Chats’ hosts are Danielle Hirsch and Zach Zarnow. 

Danielle Hirsch is a Principal Court Management Consultant at the National Center for State Courts and she serves as the Project Director for the National Justice for All Initiative. In addition, Danielle is the co-creator and a co-host of Tiny Chats—offering free, digestible, and creative short-form educational videos on topics about access to justice. Zach Zarnow is a Principal Court Management Consultant at NCSC, focusing on increasing access to justice. He has worked with courts and their partners at the local and national levels on civil legal system modernization and process simplification. 

Orange Shirt Day
On September 30, 2021 Canada acknowledged its inaugural “National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.” The day is intended to honor the survivors of Canada’s Indigenous Community against whom a cultural genocide was committed through Canada’s use of its Residential Schooling programs.

Established by the Canadian Government’s Department of Indian Affairs and administered by Christian churches, Canada’s Residential schools began in the 1870’s and ended in the mid-1990’s. From its inception, the goal of the Residential Schooling system was to deprive Canada’s Indigenous Community of their native culture and religion and ultimately assimilate them into Canadian culture. This was done often forcibly removing their children from their homes to attend a Residential Schooling program. Although in recent years, the Canadian government has attempted to apologize for its use and involvement in Residential Schooling, the trauma it inflicted against the Indigenous community undeniably continues to exist today. 

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (colloquially known as “Orange Shirt Day”) is inspired by the accounts of Phyllis Jack Webstad, a Northern Secwepemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation and a survivor of Canada’s Residential Schooling program. The following is an excerpt from Phyllis’ story. (Courtesy of: www.orangeshirtday.org/phyllis-story.html):

“I went to the Mission for one school year in 1973/1974. I had just turned 6-years-old. I lived with my grandmother on the Dog Creek reserve. We never had very much money, but somehow my granny managed to buy me a new outfit to go to the Mission school. I remember going to Robinson’s store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It had string laced up in front, and was so bright and exciting – just like I felt to be going to school!

When I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt! I never wore it again. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me, it was mine! The color orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.”

Citizens are encouraged to wear an Orange Shirt to honor the victims and survivors of the Residential Schooling Program on this date. Various judges and court personnel participated in Orange Shirt Day in wearing orange shirts or ties to work.
Holiday Season in Downtown Detroit


Detroit Tree Lighting – November 19th
Campus Martius Rink opens – November 20th
Detroit Aglow - November 22nd

The Third Circuit Court Diversity and Inclusion Team’s Mission: "We appreciate our common connection and respect our diverse and unique human experiences. We move forward as an inclusive organization as we provide accessible and equal justice."

The Court’s Diversity & Inclusion Team strives to ensure the values of its diverse bench, staff, and court users are acknowledged and reflected in our delivery of service as well as our work environment.

In that spirit, the team creates and shares a monthly list of various holidays and observations along with some celebration suggestions. We invite our work community and the community at large to contribute.

November 2021

World Vegan Day – November 1
Dia de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”) - November 1 & 2
Kukur Tihar – November 3, 2021
Check Your Blood Pressure Day – November 4
Love your Lawyer Day – November 5
World Freedom Day – November 9
USMC Birthday - November 10
Veterans Day -  November 11
World Kindness Day – November 13
International Day for Tolerance – November 16
Transgender Day of Remembrance - November 20
    Thanksgiving - November 25
Small Business Saturday - November 27