September 2023 Newsletter - Third Judicial Circuit of Michigan

From the Chief’s Desk

Thank you so very much for the outpouring of support and participation in our Court’s goal for this year: “Joining Forces to Serve Better Together”.

As we head toward our last quarter of the year, transition post-COVID has been challenging but this team has shown great resilience and initiative in making the adjustment necessary as we strive to increase workforce and support each other in service to our Court users and community.

We have made great strides in tracking backlogs caused by COVID and in responding to the needs of our community in person and via technology. As we prepare for the move to the new Criminal Justice Center (CJC) for our Criminal Division, may we continue to support each other and our Court as Michigan’s Leading Service Court.

Hon. Patricia Perez Fresard

Chief Judge

Honorable Karen Y. Braxton

Class of 2023 Influential Women of Law


The Honorable Karen Y. Braxton is recognized by the Michigan Lawyers Weekly as the Class of 2023 Influential Women in Law. This award honors women attorneys and judges for their excellent work on behalf of the justice system, their commitment to their communities and their service to the profession. Judge Braxton was elected to the Third Judicial Circuit Court Bench in November, 2012 and serves in the Family Division-Juvenile Section. Judge Braxton is the Presiding Judge for the Supervised Treatment for Alcohol & Narcotic Dependency (S.T.A.N.D.) Program, a juvenile drug treatment court program for youth with substance use disorder.

Judge Braxton is an active member of the National Conference of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, National Association of Drug Court Professionals, Michigan Association of Drug Court Professionals, and the Foster Care Review Board Advisory Committee. Judge Braxton is also a member of the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) and serves on the Executive Board. Judge Braxton was appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to serve as one of only two judges on the Governor’s Task Force for Juvenile Justice Reform from 2020-2022.

In addition to her exceptional work on the bench, she is committed to service “Beyond the Bench.” She often spends her free time volunteering with various community organizations that support youth and families. 

Chief Judge Fresard wishes to congratulate Judge Braxton for her outstanding work in improving the lives of families and children in Wayne County.

Free Child Support Help Program

Join us on Saturday, October 14th from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. for the Free Child Support Help Program sponsored by the William Booth Legal Aid Clinic. The event will be held in the Denise Wellons-Glover Welcome Center at the Wayne County Community College District Northwest Campus located at 8200 Outer Drive, Detroit, 48219. Attendees will be able to meet one-on-one with a pro bono attorney to discuss their child support case and get help with completing motion forms. They will also be able to apply for the State Discharge of Arrears Program. We welcome your attendance and urge you to spread the word in the community!

Presiding Judge Cylenthia Miller and Judge Karen Braxton Recognized by Michigan Supreme Court at 6th Annual Reunification Day


Family Division – Juvenile Section Presiding Judge Cylenthia Miller and Judge Karen Braxton were recognized by the Michigan Supreme Court at the 6th Annual Reunification Day at the Michigan Hall of Justice in Lansing on June 23, 2023. Reunification Day is an opportunity to celebrate families who have overcome challenges to reunify with their children safely and successfully. Two Wayne County families in particular were recognized for successfully reunifying their family. The awards were presented by Chief Justice Clement, Justice Megan Cavanagh, and Justice Kyra Harris Bolden.  

National Black Men in Leadership Summit

The National Black Men in Leadership Summit (BMLS) was a two-day conference at The Huntington Place in Detroit. This event was comprised of awards, keynote speakers, and panel discussions promoting black men in leadership. On the first day, BMLS gave away scholarships to several high school graduates from one thousand to twenty-five hundred dollars. This year alone they were able to give thirty-five thousand dollars in scholarships to high school scholars. Some are attending schools within Michigan. Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr., an author, political commentator, and professor was the keynote speaker for the day. He discussed today’s black community and its advancement along with the pioneers such as Malcom X, Martin Luther King Jr., and how their ideals paved the way for black success. Dr. Marvin Carr, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Center for Racial Equity at Walmart spoke on the importance of equity and how organizations can change the narrative on how it’s incorporated.

There were several breakout sessions during the event, one of which was a panel discussion on “The Evolution and Transformation of Black Entrepreneurships and Father-Inclusivity: Intentionally and Proactively Engaging and Serving Black Fathers”.  During that breakout session it was discussed how to leverage assets to start your own business, how the panelists began their journey, and why. The panelists explained their perspectives on their businesses and how black ownership is changing the landscape. The discussion on Father-inclusivity on the second day pointed to the importance of black fathers being in their children’s lives, programs available to assist them with FOC cases, and staggering statistics resulting from their absence.  

There were other sessions discussing topics such as “My brother’s Keeper: Policing in America” and “Black Philanthropy: Building on the Legacy of Giving”. As the event closed, former 3rd Circuit Court ECA Zenell Brown hosted a panel of guests that discussed allyship called, “Bridging the Gap and Fostering Allyship between Communities”. It was an inspiring discussion. The BMLS returns to The Huntington Place August 17-18, 2024.

Wayne County Family Law Bar Association Charity Golf Fundraiser


Several of our Family Division Judges and FOC staff joined the Wayne County Family Law Bar Association (WCFLBA) for a beautiful day at Idyl Wyld Golf Course in Livonia for the annual WCFLBA Charity Golf Fundraiser. This was the first successful post-Covid fundraiser event for the WCFLBA, which is led by FOC Referees Lauren Wright Middleton (President) and Alicia Bianchi (Vice President). The WCFLBA will donate a portion of the proceeds to Alternatives for Girls, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting local at-risk youth avoid homelessness, trafficking, gang involvement, early pregnancy, and substance abuse. The WCFLBA wishes to thank our judges and staff, including hole sponsor Erin Lincoln, for their generous support and look forward to seeing everyone next year.

Third Circuit Judges Participate in Youth Empowerment Series


Wayne County was well represented at the Youth Empowerment Series at Citadel of Praise Church in Detroit which was organized by First Lady Tracey Ellis. The young people participated in mock trials judged by the Honorable Chandra W. Baker-Robinson, 3rd Circuit Court, and coached by the Honorable Tenisha Yancey, 36th District Court and the Honorable Jeremy Bowie, 50th District Court. There was also a panel discussion which included the aforementioned judges as well as Wayne County Sheriff Raphael Washington which was moderated by Dr. Brian Banks. The panel discussion allowed the youth to hear from the judges and the Wayne County Sheriff regarding criminal law and the Court system. All of the participants were given $100 gift cards for participating, all were taken to Cedar Point and 5 lucky students received laptops. 


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.



“In the July/August 2023 Newsletter there was a historic picture captioned “A Look Back at the Third Circuit Bench in 1976”. The photo was not from 1976. The exact year is unknown.”

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