July/August 2023 Newsletter - Third Judicial Circuit of Michigan


July and August flew by like most summers do. It was an exciting summer in Detroit with the Grand Prix; Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and Beyoncé in concert; 4th of July fireworks on the Detroit River; Tigers games at Comerica Park; Campus Martius alive with the beach, music, shopping, food trucks; basketball, roller skating and miniature golf at the Monroe Street Midway; and many festivals. There is always something new and fun going on downtown. Whether downtown, your hometown, or “up north”, may this summer have brought you memories you will cherish. 

Margaret Flanagan Joins Third Circuit Court

as General Counsel


The Third Circuit Court is pleased to welcome Margaret Flanagan to the Court as General Counsel. Ms. Flanagan has been a practicing attorney in the State of Michigan for almost 28 years. Since beginning her career in Wayne County as an Assistant Corporation Counsel, Ms. Flanagan has also held positions with the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and Governor Granholm’s Office as Criminal Justice Policy Advisor. In that capacity, she served on the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan legislative subcommittee which recommended statewide legislative and policy changes for the Attorney General. In 2004, Ms. Flanagan returned to Wayne County Corporation Counsel where she worked extensively in civil litigation and most recently on labor and employment matters. Ms. Flanagan has handled trials in the district, state and federal courts. She has also successfully argued in the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Her most recent position was as the Principal Attorney of the Labor, Employment and Workers’ Compensation Division, where she supervised a team of attorneys and retained outside counsel. Ms. Flanagan earned her B.A. degree from the University of Michigan. She received her Juris Doctorate degree from the Detroit College of Law. Ms. Flanagan is a long-standing member of the Incorporated Society of Irish-American Lawyers. She has been a member of the Litigation Section for the Michigan State Bar and currently serves on the Labor & Employment Section, the ADR Section, the Government Law Section and the Workers’ Compensation Section. Ms. Flanagan is married to Scott R. Hamilton and is the proud mother to three children.

Judge Abraham’s Team Wins Best Chef Award

On Tuesday, June 27, 2023, Team Abraham, made up of Judge Yvonna C. Abraham, her husband Marwan Salamey, and Judicial Attorney Maya Younis - took home the Best Chef award at this year’s annual Grilling for Good: Bench Bar Culinary Challenge. Team Abraham dazzled the crowd with authentic-style beef kabobs grilled to perfection, served alongside fresh-chopped tabbouleh, crispy pita chips, and creamy hummus sprinkled with edible gold glitter. The Bench Bar Culinary Challenge is an annual fundraiser hosted by the Women’s Lawyers Association held at the home of the Honorable Kristen Frank Kelly. This year’s event benefited Alternatives for Girls, a nonprofit that serves girls and young women experiencing homelessness and other risks through housing stability, outreach, prevention, and various programs.

Third Circuit Judge David J. Allen Receives Michigan Judges Association Hilda Gage Award


The Honorable David J. Allen received the Hilda Gage Award for Judicial Excellence presented by the Michigan Judges Association. Judge Allen serves on the Civil Division Bench in the Third Judicial Circuit.

Recipients of this prestigious award are selected from nominations by attorneys and current/former judges. The award is given each year to judges who demonstrate contributions to the profession, legal scholarship and the community; as well as competence in document management and managing trials. Congratulations to Judge Allen on this well-deserved recognition!

Judge Lillard Sworn in as an Officer of the Michigan Judges Association

The Honorable Qiana Lillard was recently sworn in an as an officer of the Michigan Judges Association. The MJA is the judicial organization for the Circuit and Court of Appeals Judges in Michigan. Judge Lillard serves on the Civil Division Bench in the Third Judicial Circuit. Congratulations to Judge Lillard!

Third Circuit Court Hosts Moot Court Trial

On July 28, 2023, the Third Circuit Court Jury Services and Facilities hosted a Moot Court trial competition presented by Michigan Supreme Court Learning Center Coordinator Rachael L. Drenovsky. Moot Court simulates proceedings before an appellate court. There is no jury and no new evidence is taken. Proceedings, called oral arguments, are like a formal conversation between the justices and attorneys. The students that participated in this program were given a real case to study in advance of the competition so that they are prepared for oral arguments.

The students were greeted by Chief Judge Pro Tem Leslie Kim Smith. The students were coached in preparation for the oral arguments and given lessons in vocabulary from former Third Circuit Court Executive Court Administrator, now President of the Detroit Bar Association Zenell Brown (left) and a case overview from Danielle Stackpole, Publications Manager, Michigan Judicial Institute (right).

Students gave oral arguments before Judge Yvonna Abraham and Judge Nicole Goodson (shown below). The judges provided positive feedback along with some constructive criticism. 

Thank you to all participants for making the moot court a great success!       

Criminal Division Welcomes Two New Pretrial Services Specialists


The Criminal Division is pleased to welcome two new Pretrial Services Specialist to the Court in the Pretrial Services Department – Ms. Shena Riley and Ms. Taylor Holmes.

Shena graduated from Marygrove College with a BA in Sociology, with a concentration in Social Work. She is a married mom with a 5 year-old baby girl (whom, according to Shena is “going on 50”!) She loves game nights, concerts and being with her family. Cooking, gardening and planting are her among her favorite things. She loves peace, and simple things. And she is excited about working for the Court.

Taylor has a BA in Criminal Justice. She likes to watch movies. Thanksgiving and Christmas are her favorites holidays. Winter is her favorite season, and she loves to ski. She is very enthused about working in the Department and learning new things.

Please join us in welcoming Shena and Taylor to the Third Circuit Court!

Friend of the Court Welcomes Four New Staff Members

The Friend of the Court recently onboarded four new staff members – Brandi Hollingshed, Natasha Jones, Renee Nash, and Lashakur Rice.

Brandi joins the Information Services Department Medical Unit as an Information Specialist I. Brandi is a devoted and compassionate mother of 3 beautiful daughters, a grandson and a pet ShiRanian. She lives and serves as a liaison for District 7 in Detroit. Brandi holds a certification in Word-Processing from Wayne State University and two Associate degrees with a major in Paralegal Technology from Wayne County Community College District. She is currently enrolled at Ferris State University pursuing a BA in Criminal Justice to advance her future career goals of running for public office. Brandi is also a Precinct delegate, Notary and an active member of the MDP Rules Committee, Wolverine Bar Association and NAACP. Brandi is also a “sister” of the benevolent Order of the Eastern Stars.

Natasha joins the Case Establishment Department as an Information Specialist I. Natasha previously worked at Rocket. She has one son 22 years old. She has her Bachelors in Forensic Science and an Associate of Liberal Arts. She loves all varieties of music and last but not least, she is a twin. So if you see two of her, don’t fret, it’s not your glasses. 

Renee joins the Information Services Department Review and Modification Unit as an Information Specialist I. Renee is married to her high school sweetheart, for the 2nd time! They have three adult children and one grand-daughter (18 months old). In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, playing puzzle games and scrapbooking. She has always had an interest in photography and recently purchased a camera to teach herself and pursue that interest. She is excited to be a part of the Court. 

Lashakur joins the Case Establishment Department as an Information Specialist I. Lashakur has a 9 years old son name Joseph. She currently is pursuing her Bachelors at Western Governor University in Health and Human Services.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her son Joseph and doing homework. Last but not least, she will be saying good bye to her twenties on October 13. 

Please join us in welcoming Brandi, Natasha, Renee and Lashakur to the Third Circuit Court!

STAND Attends ALLRISE23 Treatment Courts Conference in Houston

The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) hosted the ALLRISE23 Treatment Courts Conference in Houston, TX. The event was held on June 26– 29, and was in attendance by STAND program members: Hon. Karen Y. Braxton, Referee Brandi Taylor, Coordinator Christopher Whittington, Prosecutor Elizabeth Kellogg, Attorney Vanessa Moss-Wilson, Probation Officer Ruth Smith and Probation Officer Kevin Purnell.

The NADCP considers ALLRISE23 the world’s premiere conference on addiction, mental health and justice reform. ALLRISE23 has been integral in providing training, networking and technical assistance for administration, law enforcement and public health workers at the local and national level. AllRISE23 offered 256 sessions available to attendees, over 350 speakers and over 22 hours of continuing education.

There were many highlights throughout the week, but the main speaking attractions held in the Exhibition hall garnered the most attention. Each day, one or more presenters addressed topics that provided insight, solutions, brought about discussions and informative data needed for all who attended. Another highlight, were the many different sessions available to treatment court professionals. No matter what your profession was, there something for you to attend.

For the second time this year, STAND was requested to take their show on the road and showcase it’s Educational Advocacy presentation! A video Q&A was done between Elizabeth Kellogg and Judith New that discussed educational advocacy for JDTC programs, challenges with online schooling and various resources for a successful graduation. The presentation invited our team to network with their peers and benefit from the invaluable experiences they had to offer.

ALLRISE23 served as a great opportunity for attendees to engage in unparalleled education, networking and fellowship. The mission of the conference is to ensure that individuals with substance use and mental health disorders receive treatment and restoration, no matter where in the system they find themselves. Let’s strive for the same mission!

Wayne State University Students Visit Third Circuit Court

On July 11, 2023, Wayne State University (WSU) Law School visited the Third Circuit Court. The participants were college students considering a career in law or related field. They were led by Teirney Hoffman, Assistant Director of Student Engagement and Culture at WSU.

The students spent the afternoon shadowing our very own Judge Qiana Lillard. Judge Lillard gave a very valuable lesson to the students about how to get started in law. She provided some of her own experiences during her career and shared some of her most memorable cases with the students. Originally the students were set to observe a medical malpractice case, but the case settled. Still, the students got so much more from the lessons shared by Judge Lillard!

FOCA Summer Conference

The Friend of the Court Association Summer Conference was held July 18th through the 21st at the Shoreline Inn and Conference Center in Muskegon. Approximately half the state’s 83 counties had representatives in attendance. Friend of the Court, Erin Lincoln, and Assistant Friend of the Court, Jillian Fitzgerald, attended on behalf of Wayne County. The conference provides valuable legal updates and training on the effects of secondary trauma, motivational interviewing, customer service, and the Learn Earn and Provide (LEAP) program. Friend of the Court Bureau Director, Steve Capps, presented on updates at the State Court Administrative Office and Michigan Office of Child Support IV-D Director Erin Frisch provided updates from both a state and federal child support program level. Washtenaw County Friend of the Court, Kristy Bray, was elected the new FOCA President and Genesee County Friend of the Court, Tony McDowell as the Vice-President.

August 2023 is Child Support Month

Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared that August 2023 is Child Support Month in Michigan recognizing the tireless efforts of child support workers, employers, state and county departments, hospitals and community partners who work to support Michigan children and families.

In Wayne County, the Friend of the Court establishes child support orders, ensures those financial obligations are right-sized according to the Michigan Child Support Formula and enforces payment on these financial responsibilities.

Recent highlights for Wayne County Friend of the Court include:

  • 276,515 cases served by the employees in 2022.
  • $233,749,491.08 collected and distributed in support for 2022.
  • 8,123 reviews and investigations to ensure child support is properly charging.
  • Zoom hearings continue for Friend of the Court Referees, increasing access to court hearings and negating the need for travel and parking costs.
  • The Friend of the Court payment window reopened to take in-person payments five days per week.
  • Customer Service reopened to in-person service three days per week and virtual appointments are conducted the other two days.

Celebrations started in July to recognize Wayne County Friend of the Court staff’s efforts. A “Fill Your Tank” raffle was held with gift cards as prizes. Staff could enter to win by sharing a positive quote to be posted at the Friend of the Court.

Celebrations will continue later in August to recognize Friend of the Court staff’s hard work all year long. These celebrations will include treats for staff. In addition, each staff member will receive a Friend of the Court polo shirt as recognition for their efforts.

A Look Back at the Third Circuit Bench in 1976

Pictured left to right: Thomas Sullivan; James Rashid; Louis Simmons; Sharon Tevis Finch; Paul Teranes; Harry Dingeman; Chief Judge Richard Kaufman; Kent Batty, Court Administrator; person unknown; Kaye Tertzag; James Mies; William J. Giovan


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.



Labor Day - September 4

International Day of Charity - September 5

International Literacy Day - September 8

Patriot Day - September 11

Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year) - September 12

International Day of Democracy - September 15

Hispanic Heritage Month - September 15 - October 15

Rosh Hashanah - September 15 – 17

Mexican Independence Day - September 16

International Day of Peace - September 21

National Native American Day - September 22

Autumnal Equinox - September 23

Bi Visibility Day - September 23

International Day of Sign Language – September 23

Yom Kippur – September 24 - 25

European Day of Languages - September 26

World Tourism Day - September 27




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