April 2023 Newsletter - Third Judicial Circuit of Michigan


“April showers bring May flowers.” The sight of beautiful, colorful, and vibrant flowers around us is a sign of hope; and a reminder that transformation is a constant in our lives. Springtime is a miraculous time of the year. It is an exhibition of change and redesign. Let us celebrate this season of renewal as we continue working together to inspire others. 


Message from Chief Judge Fresard

Dear Court Team:


Thank you so very much for taking the time to join the Zoom session for our State of the Court.


We truly value your input. Please consider sharing your ideas, questions and concerns with us by sending an email to judgefresard-court@3rdcc.org and cc deborah.lee@3rdcc.org


Also, please help our Court by finding and enlisting other valuable, caring people like yourselves to join our team. For those who you think would like to apply, please direct them to the Court’s website at 3rdcc.org,click on Essential Links then Job Postings.




Judge Fresard 

Friend of the Court Welcomes Three New Staff Members

The Friend of the Court recently onboarded three new staff members – Jared Hocker, Jordan Lee, Jameka Stigger.

Jameka joins the Friend of the Court Case Establishment Department as an Information Specialist I. She previously worked at Rocket Mortgage for 10 years and possesses a plethora of knowledge in that field as well as strong customer service skills. Jameka has three siblings, two brothers and one sister. She is the youngest and (self-proclaimed) feistiest of the bunch.  

Jared joins the Friend of the Court Legal Department as an Associate Attorney. He diligently served as a Public Defender for Broward County, Florida before entering into solo practice. He recently returned to his hometown of Detroit, Michigan and previously served the family law community while working at the Free Legal Aid Clinic, Inc.

Jordan joins the Friend of the Court Information Services Department – Medical Unit as an Information Specialist I. She has previously worked as a Wayne County Clerk at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center in Detroit, Michigan, where she was born and raised. Prior to shifting into the legal setting, Jordan worked in the medical field throughout Michigan’s health systems. This change was due to her desire to become a paralegal.

Please join us in welcoming “the 3 Js” – Jared, Jordan, and Jameka – to the Third Circuit Court!

The Third Judicial Circuit of Michigan is hiring for multiple positions.  In addition to wages, retirement plan, medical, dental, and vision benefits, the Court offers generous vacation time and has an extensive holiday schedule that includes paid end-of-year shut down.  Additionally, employees of the Court may be eligible for forgiveness of their student loans under the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.  More importantly, if you are service-oriented and have an interest in work that is closely connected to the community, employees of the Third Judicial Circuit of Michigan are rewarded with the satisfaction of participating in the provision of justice in Michigan's largest, most populous county.

The following positions are open:

  • Case Manager
  • Court Services Administrative Assistant
  • Executive Assistant to the Executive Court Administrator
  • Systems Administrator

For more information and to apply, visit our website at https://www.3rdcc.org/job-postings and click on the Careers tab.  Please share with anyone who may be interested. 

STAND Attends National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Training in Minneapolis

On April 3rd – 5th, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) held an All-Sites Training conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  STAND Program attendees: Judge Karen Y. Braxton, Referee Brandi Taylor, Coordinator Christopher Whittington, Prosecutor Elizabeth Kellogg and Mentor Jauntez Bates were all in attendance.  

This year’s training included Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts (JDTC) from all around the nation.  The event required team members from their respective programs to attend. Team members were comprised of Judges, Prosecutors, Defense Attorneys, Coordinators, Probation Officers, Treatment Providers and Educational Representatives.  The agenda consisted of discussions on the state of JDTC programs, Case File reviews, Site Showcases and Workshops.  The training focused on JDTC guidelines, Identifying & Analyzing Program Data and Planning a clearly defined Eligibility Criteria.

Site Showcases were the highlight of the event.  The showcases provided an opportunity for each JDTC Program to highlight what their team was proud of, discover new and innovative ideas from other programs and embrace the opportunity to network and learn with their peers.  The STAND Program highlighted Educational Advocacy and a video Q&A was presented by Elizabeth Kellogg and Judith New. They discussed Educational Advocacy for JDTC Programs, challenges with online schooling and various resources for a successful graduation.

Overall, the training was an educational and interactive event. The theme for the JDTC All-Sites training was “The Six Million Dollar JDTC – We can Rebuild it, Stronger, Faster, Better.”  We look forward to seeing the STAND Program implement this motto! 

For additional program information or referrals contact the STAND Program at 313-833-1965.

Pictured left to right: Christopher Whittington, Judge Karen Braxton, Prosecutor Elizabeth Kellogg, Referee Brandi Taylor, Mentor Jauntez Bates

Detroit Judges Read to Edison Elementary Students for Reading Month

March is “Reading Month”.  It is a tradition at Detroit Public School’s Community District’s Edison Elementary to invite Detroit judges to read to their students. It is important that our Detroit youth meet judges in a positive way.  Thank you to the following judges that shared their work and wonderful stories with the students of Edison Elementary throughout the month of March: Judge Cynthia Stephens, Judge Amanda Kaye, Judge Karen Braxton, Judge Marlena Taylor, Judge Miriam Perry, Judge Kameshia Gant, Judge Qiana Lillard, and Judge Tenisha Yancey.

Take-Aways From the Women in Leadership Symposium


The Michigan Diversity Council hosted their annual Women in Leadership Symposium on March 21st. The theme was “Rising in Resilience: Achieving Empowerment Through Advancement & Adaptability.” The event offered attendees an opportunity to hear different perspectives from a diverse mix of female executives who climbed the corporate ladder and highlighted the legacy of excellence and advocacy for women’s equality in workplaces and communities. Speakers included LaTrice McClendon, Community President-Huntington National Bank, Tara Grey, Owner-Gus & Grey Hand Crafted Delights, Liliana Ospina Herbstreith, Founder-Hispanic Marketing Solutions LLC and Latinos En Michigan TV, Lori Rush Lancaster, President-Dakkota Integrated Systems, Nicolet Lewis, Chief People Officer-Detroit Pistons, Van Nguyon, Vice President Organizational Wellness-PNC Bank, Awardee, Sandy Pierce, Senior Executive Vice President-Huntington National Bank, and Moderator, Darlene King, Executive Director-Michigan Diversity Council.


As pointed out by one of the symposium’s presenters, women are still dramatically underrepresented in leadership. This presenter told her story about how, despite much adversity, she worked her way up the corporate ladder. She challenged attendees to “never give up and be a resilient woman who doesn’t quit” and ask yourself whether you let an obstacle or road block stop you or do you let it drive you? She encouraged both having a mentor and then being a mentor. The hope of another presenter was to have attendees leave the event empowered and to go lift others up. She suggested that when faced with adversity, inclusive leadership is about being adaptable/flexible and learning to work with a variety of others. In order to impact people, you have to show your true self and be transparent. It starts with yourself and you have to lead by example. No one forgets how you made them feel. Generational diversity and its societal impacts were another focal point. You need both institutional knowledge as well as new ideas and different perspectives. The panel session closed the event discussing topics such as embracing resilience and having the courage to live outside your comfort zone and take risks, standing together and taking a look at women’s equity, and how work impacts mental health. Attendees were encouraged to do things that promote mental health and take time off for yourself.


This event was successful in making attendees feel empowered to be change agents in support of women’s equality in workplaces and communities! 

Pictured left to right: ToieLynn Smith, Referee Brandi Taylor, Judge Karen Braxton, Denise Gaston, Torrece Simpson, Sonya Ristic, Referee Stephanie Witucki, Michelle Chiarvalli, LaShan Bradley, Zenell Brown, Kimberly Wilson

Mock Trials Jury Services

The Third Circuit Court partners with educational services in an effort to educate our youth on court proceedings.  

Yvette Blackmon, the Director of Jury Services, with the coordination of Eric Weems, the Director of Purchasing & Facilities, assisted the Michigan Center for Civic Education (MCCE) in hosting the 41st Annual High School Mock Trial Series in February, which included courtroom artistry and journalism.  

Judges, court staff, staff members from the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office, as well as educators from Macomb, Wayne and Washtenaw Counties, all volunteered their time to make this a great event.  Also included in the event were our very own judges – Judge Chandra Baker-Robinson, Judge Karen Braxton, and Judge Nicole Goodson – who helped mentor the brilliant contestants. 

The winner of the competition was Allen Park High School who will go on to compete in the regional Mock Trial Competition.  

The Third Circuit Court was presented with a plaque for our commitment to the 2023 Michigan High School Mock Trial Series.   The Michigan Center for Civic Education champions education for active and informed engagement in the practice of democracy.

Pictured from left to right: Lydia Mitchel (Program and Outreach Coordinator Mi Center for Civic Education), Yvette Blackmon (Director of Jury Services), Regan Gibson (Michigan Center for Education Board Member), Ellen Zwarensteyn (Executive Michigan Center for Education Executive Director)

Pictured from left to right: Commissioner Bonnie Leone, Yvette Blackmon, India Perry, Danella Chevry, Kizzie Stevenson

The Jury Services Department also hosted a mock trial on March 16, 2023 at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center.  Eighth grade students from Priest Middle School visited the Civil Division.  During this visit, students learned about the importance of appearing for jury service.  The students got a chance to witness court proceedings in Chief Judge Fresard and Judge Lillard’s courtrooms.  The pre-teens then did a mock jury trial in courtroom 1611.  Thank you to Chief Judge Fresard and Judge Lillard for your participation (not photographed) and our volunteers that helped make this an educational event for our youth. 


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.

MAY 2023

Month-long observances:

Military Appreciation Month

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Jewish American Heritage Month

Week-long observances:

Week of May 8 – Teacher Appreciation

May 1 – May Day

May 1 – Law Day

May 2 – National Teacher Appreciation Day

May 4 – National Day of Prayer

May 5 – Cinco de Mayo

May 6 – National Nurses Day

May 9 – Lag BaOmer

May 12 – Military Spouse Appreciation Day

May 14 – Mother’s Day

May 18 – Ascension Day

May 20 – Armed Forces Day

May 25 – National Missing Children’s Day

May 26 – Shavuot

May 29 – Whit Monday

May 29 – Memorial Day

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