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Press Release - Business Court Judges

Oct 17, 2019

For Immediate Release

Contact: Zenell B. Brown, Executive Court Administrator
(313) 224-2236
Subject: Business Court Expands to 5 Judges


Detroit, MI - The Third Judicial Circuit Court is pleased to announce the Michigan Supreme Court has appointed two additional judges to the Third Circuit Court’s Business Court. Judges Muriel D. Hughes and David J. Allen join Judges Edward Ewell, Jr., Lita M. Popke, and Brian R. Sullivan, each of whom was recently reappointed to the Business Court for a six-year term. The two judges were added at the request of Honorable Timothy M. Kenny, Chief Judge of the Third Judicial Circuit Court.

Since assuming the duties of Chief Judge in January, 2019, Judge Kenny has worked closely with Judge Patricia Perez Fresard, Chief Judge Pro Tem and Presiding Judge of the Civil Division, to assess the needs of the Business Court docket. The commitment to providing the highest level of service to business litigants in a court with almost three times the overall civil docket of the next highest volume court supported a proposal to add two judges to the Business Court. 

• Honorable David J. Allen was appointed to the Wayne County Circuit Court in 2003. He has served in the Criminal and Civil Divisions of the Court. Judge Allen has served on the Court’s Executive Committee, Security Committee, and Strategic Planning Committee. He is an adjunct professor of law at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, previously having taught at the University of Detroit Mercy Law School. Judge Allen serves on the boards of two of the largest providers of social services in southeast Michigan: the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit and ACCESS. He is a lifelong resident of the City of Detroit and, together with his wife, has raised three young men.

• Honorable Edward Ewell was appointed to the Wayne County Circuit Court in 2003. He served in the Criminal Division for eleven years: serving five years as Presiding Judge. For the past six years, he has served in the Civil Division as a Business Court Judge. Judge Ewell is very active in the community; serving on the Boards of Henry Ford Health Systems, the Youth Connection, Wayne State University Alumni Association, Wayne State Law School Board of Visitors, the Association of Black Judges, the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association, Sobriety House and Chairman of Corinthian Baptist Church Deacon Board. Edward Ewell, Jr. graduated from the University of Michigan and then pursued a Master’s of Science degree from Atlanta University. He later graduated from Wayne State University Law School. After clerking for Federal Judge Damon J. Keith in U. S. Court of Appeals, Judge Ewell became an associate at the law firm of Pepper, Hamilton & Scheetz; a Federal Prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office; and General Counsel for Wayne County

• Honorable Muriel D. Hughes has served on the Wayne County Circuit Court bench since 2006. Judge Hughes served in the Family and Civil Divisions of the Court. Before becoming a Judge, she practiced law for 23 years specializing in general litigation, real estate, probate and alternative case resolution. She also served as a Wayne County Public Administrator. In addition to her law license, she held a real estate sales and a real estate broker’s license. Recently Judge Hughes was re-elected by her peers for another two year term to the Board of Directors for the Michigan Judges Association and serves on the Civil/Business Law Committee. She has served as a member of the Michigan’s Solutions on Self-Help Task Force to expand coordinated assistance for self-represented individuals. Judge Hughes has appeared as a speaker for the Michigan Judges Institute, ICLE No-Fault Seminar and for the Detroit Bar Association.

• Honorable Lita Masini Popke has been a judge in the Wayne County Circuit Court since 2000. Judge Popke’s prior service includes Chief Judge Pro Tem (2009 – 2013), Executive Committee (2005 – 2013, 2016- 2018), Presiding Judge Family Division (2005 – 2007), and Mediation Tribunal Association Board Member. She has also held various positions outside the Court including Business Court Representative for the American Bar Association; Faculty member for the MJI New Judges Seminar; Member, State Bar subcommittee on Civil Discovery Scope; and Detroit Bar’s Inn of Court. Before joining the bench, Judge Popke was an appointed member of the State Board of Ethics, a Wayne and Oakland County mediator, and active in various community organizations. In private practice, she practiced commercial litigation and fidelity and surety law. She is a graduate of St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana and the University of Detroit School of Law.

• Honorable Brian R. Sullivan has served on the Wayne County Circuit since 1999 and was appointed to the Business Court in 2013. Judge Sullivan previously served in the Criminal Division. In private practice, he handled trial and appellate cases in criminal and civil including business law. Judge Sullivan was also an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Wayne County, 1983- 1988, the Director of a Legal Clinic, and an adjunct professor at Cooley Law School. He is a Fellow of the Michigan Bar Foundation, a member of the Jury Instruction Committee, and holds board and membership positions with numerous bar associations. Judge Sullivan is a graduate of Monteith College, Wayne State University, and honors graduate of the Detroit College of Law.

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