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Bar Briefs Novmember 2006
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Bar Briefs
November 2006 • Volume 25 • Number 05

From the President
"Now is the Time for the University of Macomb"
by Jacob M. Femminineo, Jr., MCBA President

From the Executive Director
"Member Benefits"
by Rick R. Troy, Executive Director

Circuit Court Corner
by Keith Beasley

Elder Law
"What's It Worth"
by Alan Polack

From the MCBF
"The Future"
by James T. Miller, MCBF President

Legal "Aid"
"Legal "Aid""
by Jule Gatti

From the YLS
"Come Out, Come Out Where Ever You Are"
by Christy Pudyk, Young Lawyers Section Director


From the President
"Now is the Time for the University of Macomb "
by Jacob M. Femminineo, Jr.


According to statistics printed int he Macomb Daily, only twenty percent of Macomb County residents have bachelor degrees. This is below the state level of twenty four percent.

The reality of the state of the economy is that we can no longer rely on the automobile industry to be the source of jobs here in Macomb County. Who knows if GM, Ford and Daimler-Chrysler are even going to be around in five years. The plain and simple fact is that many people believe that automobiles are being made better and cheaper in other countries around the world.
The good old blue collar, bowling alley days of Macomb County may soon be a distant memory. There is no way any high school student in our County can sit back and say that he or she does not need to go to college because they simply can get a job in the automobile industry.

Our students need to be educationally prepared. Fields in technology, science, engineering and law need to readily accessible to them. That is not the case now.

Why do Macomb County residents need to drive to Wayne or Oakland Counties to get a bachelor degree? Why can’t the County create a University that would not only allow our residents to attend but could actually attract people throughout the state to come to Macomb County to get a degree?

We have the facilities and resources to make a first class university in this county. The University of Macomb would be a convenient way to prepare our citizens for the type of jobs our county will hold in the future. A better and more educated county will attract the employers our county will rely on in the future.

I commend the work Judge George Steeh III and the committee he heads on the work they have done in studying the need for a university in this county. I also urge them to act fast in making a recommendation. Too many times in the past our county has done something after the fact. A band-aid ten years in the future will not solve Macomb County’s problems. We need to act now.
An Installation Gala To Remember

I would like to thank the over four hundred plus people who attended the Installation Gala on September 29, 2006. The event was an absolute success. The format was much different from other events in the past and the response I recieved from so many of you was positive.

Maybe a hundred years from now, when the MCBA celebrates it’s 200 year anniversary, they will look back and talk about this great celebration that occurred during our centennial. Thanks again to everyone who helped make the event such a great success.

We need to see you on Macombbar.org. There is some good stuff there. It would be nice if you posted a thought in the forums. If not, see you walking down the streets of the great City of Mt. Clemens.

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From the Executive Director
"Member Benefits "
by Rick R. Troy


Member Benefits

To say that we’ve been busy over this past spring and summer is an understatement. As a result of our energies being focused on rebuilding the office, rebuilding the website, aligning our board and committee leadership, and Centennial events, we have been somewhat negligent in developing more product and service benefits for you. As of this month however, that too has changed.

Career Center

Not a week goes by that I do not receive a call, an email or a personal visit from a member that is either looking to hire an associate or a paralegal. The reverse is also true. That is, people often ask me about employment opportunities. On occasion I have been able to connect members that are looking for employment and members that are looking for employees. This weekly ritual led me to explore what other bar association provide in terms of a formal career center.

I am happy to introduce to you the MCBA’s new Career Center.

Job Seekers Post Your Resume.
It's fast, easy and free. Simply post your resume for industry employers to see and explore the possibilities that are waiting for you. Post your resume today and make it available for potential career changes in the future!

Access Premier Job Postings.
Search jobs and submit resumes to employer job listings not widely available on other career sites. We have an aggressive marketing campaign underway to encourage employers to use our Career Center as their #1 recruiting source -- new jobs are posted daily! Receive Jobs via Email

Create a “Job Agent” based on various criteria and begin receiving e-mail notifications. Start collecting jobs today! EmployersPost Jobs

It's fast, easy and affordable. Simply post your jobs for professionals to see and start receiving resumes in days. The more jobs we post, the more professionals will rely on us!Receive Resumes via Email

Once your jobs are posted, you will start receiving resumes within days. Have qualified candidates respond to your job postings! Start collecting resumes today! Screen Resumes

Screen resumes based on criteria determined by you. Search through qualified resumes not typically available on other career sites. Our aggressive marketing campaign is encouraging candidates to post their resumes. New resumes are posted daily!
With help from our ASSOCIATION Career Center Services, you can hire and get hired today!

The Career Center can be found at MacombBar.org under the Member Benefits tag.

MacombBar.org tip of the month

Last month I walked you through how to log onto and use the Forum. I am happy to say that many of you have successfully logged on, however I am stunned that you do not have any opinions or stories to share. Go ahead and start a new topic. Reply to an old one. Say something. Complain. Compliment. Make recommendations. Share your ideas! It only takes a few seconds.

Have you seen the MCBA Calendar of Events? Have you ever registered for a CLE or a Bar event online? It is so simple. First, log onto the website. By now you should click on your “favorites” or “bookmarks” located on your web tool bar and MacombBar.org will be in the list. Click on it and the site will come up on your screen. Notice the maroon colored tabs. Go to the second one from the left titled Member Benefits and click on it. You will see a drop down menu. Scroll your mouse down to Calendar of Events and click on it. A calendar will appear on your screen. You may need to scroll the page down to view the entire calendar. You can now see all of the MCBA related events taking place during the month. There are two ways to change the monthly view. You can click on the drop down menus where it says “Select a Month/Year” or you can click on the previous month or the next month for those months to appear.

Now if you wanted to register for an event, say the Fall General Membership Meeting / Centennial Closing Ceremony, on November 9, simply click on the typed link that reads, “Centennial Closing Ceremony”. You are now in the registration module of the website. From right to left you will read the date, time, location, and then a link to a map is available. To register click on the “Register for Event Now” link. A data box will appear that you will have to fill out. If you have registered on the site with the same computer previously, the data fields will already be filled out. If this is your first time simply type in your name and email address. Then click on the payment arrow. A drop down menu will appear. Choose the answer that best applies to you and click on the “submit form” button. A payment screen will appear which gives you the option of paying by credit card or to be billed for the event at a later date. Either way your information is secure. You will receive an immediate email notifying you that are registered. So go to you computer, log on and register for the Centennial Closing Ceremony at Mirage Banquet Center.

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Circuit Court Corner
by Keith Beasley, Court Administrator

Mediation Programs for Cases Under $25,000

0 I am writing again on this topic because there have been questions about this program. It offers an alternative mediation track to foster resolution of cases that receive a case evaluation less than $25,000. The goal is to encourage mediation through an ADR provider of the parties' choice, or, if they don't agree upon one, through The Resolution Center. The parties also have the option to choose to stipulate to transfer their case to the appropriate district court or file a motion objecting to mediation. We do not expect that many cases will be transferred to district courts. Oakland County has been using this process for several years and has not found transfer to be common. In fact, staff couldn't remember any. If going to The Resolution Center, the parties must pay the fee 5 days before the mediation. The normal fee of The Resolution Center is $75 per party. Clients must be present at the mediation. A summary which is at least one page must be filed 5 days before the mediation. If the parties select their own mediator, they must pay that mediator's fee as directed by the mediator.

Family Counseling

The referral fees for Parental Coordination Evaluations have been modified to bring revenue more in line with the costs incurred. As a result, beginning October 1, 2006, referrals for Parental Coordination Evaluations will normally be $700 for five sessions. Any time above and beyond the five hours devoted to the sessions will be billed to the parties at the rate of $150 per hour. These costs are normally shared equally by the parties.

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Elder Law
"What Its Worth "
by Alan Polack

Every time you open a deceased estate you must file an inventory of the assets of the estate. The probate court then assesses a fee against the value of those assets based on a mathematical schedule contained in Section 871(1) of the Revised Judicature Act; MCL 600.871(1). The fee is transmitted to the Macomb County Treasurer, who allocates 40% to the county general fund and pays 60% to the state treasurer and credited to the state general fund. There is no earmarking for probate court administration expenses.

The Macomb County Probate Court and other courts have allowed the deduction of the current balances of liens or mortgages from the value of real estate for a calculation of inventory fees. In other words, if you inventory a home with a fair market value of $200,000 and an existing mortgage of $100,000, your inventory value will be $100,000. On the other hand, Oakland County and other courts have not allowed the deduction of liens or mortgages. The estate has had to pay the inventory fee on the gross “value” of the assets. MCR 5.307(A) was recently amended to address the discrepancy by stating “in calculating the inventory fee, deductions shall be allowed for secured loans on properties listed on the inventory, but no other deduction shall be allowed.”

Now the Michigan Court of Appeals has weighed in on this issue in the Estate of Sandra Wolfe-Hadad v Oakland County, Case No. 260478, decided on September 28, 2006. In this case, the plaintiff contended that the value of an asset to the estate must be determined as the worth of the asset to the beneficiaries of the estate. The court completely rejected this argument stating that “even an asset that secures a debt that exceeds the asset’s fair market value will benefit an estate. This is because the money raised by the sale of the asset will retire a portion of the debt that would otherwise be unsecured. This leaves a correspondingly greater portion of the remaining assets available to pay other creditors or to pass to the beneficiaries of the estate. Thus assets that secure debts benefit the estate to the full extent of their fair market value.” (How would this work in an estate where the only asset is the one encumbered by such a debt?)

Anyway, the court went on to give other reasons for finding the ordinary meaning of “value” to eliminate the deduction of secured debt. They also threw out the part of MCR 5.307(A) that permits deductions of secured debt on inventories. As a result of this decision, the Macomb County Probate Court has issued a bulletin notifying all practitioners that the deduction of mortgages and liens on all inventories in deceased estates is no longer allowed effective October 2, 2006. All inventory fees calculated up to October 2, 2006 will remain unchanged. It will be interesting to see if this case is appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court who promulgated the amendment to MCR 5.307(A), since the Court of Appeals is telling that Court that its court rule is a violation of the Revised Judicature Act. We’ll see.

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From the MCBF
"The Future"
by James T. Miller, MCBF President


Short Term

The Macomb County Bar Foundation survey of fifty Macomb County lawyers has concluded. By the time you read this the MCBF Board of Directors will be reviewing the responses. We have been working on this major project for almost a year. It has and continues to be an exciting and heartening experience. It is exciting because the result will help direct the Foundation in a way Macomb County lawyers want. We are anxious to review the opinions that have been provided. We recognize that you are our constituency. We know your opinions are valuable and will be focused on what we are trying to do. I am heartened by the willingness of Officers and Board Members of the MCBF to take a big chunk of their time to go out into the field and complete these surveys. Not many groups manifest this type of interest, dedication and actual solid hours spent on its behalf.

Although the initial phase of the project identified fifty Macomb County lawyers representing four generations, we welcome all MCBA members’ thoughts and opinions. If you are interested in sharing your opinions, I invite you to visit www.MacombBar.org/Foundation where you will find the survey and the accompanying Case for Support. Or, if you are so inclined, please feel free to contact any of the Foundation’s Officers and Board Members.

Long Term

A few days ago, I attended an American Constitution Society dinner, attended by lawyers and law students. The featured speaker was Governor Jennifer Granholm. Setting campaigns and politics aside, all will agree she is a vibrant and arresting speaker. In the course of her remarks, she asked the law student attendees to stand. She then exhorted them to remain in Michigan and contribute their skills to the forward progress for Michigan that we all hope for.

Thirty-three years ago, when I was sworn in, no such speech would have been needed or considered. It is today. I think our Bar Foundation efforts in education can and will contribute in some way to the future legal health of our state and county. Perhaps something in one of the programs we sponsor will convince someone to stay in Michigan and practice in Macomb County.

Very, Very, Long Term

Whether good or bad, I admit to reading some of the obituaries in the Sunday “New York Times”. Last week I read of a French woman who as a teenager isolated herself from her family and friends to work for the underground resistance in World War Two. She would ride her bicycle through the countryside to then report on German installations and troops. Her life was at stake every moment. While we hope we will never be called upon to be so heroic, there are many small endeavors, uniquely available to us as lawyers, that can contribute to the good of society and leave a positive legacy.


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Legal "Aid"
"Legal "Aid""
by Julie Gatti


?My daughter, Leyna, likes me to tell her stories during bath time. Running low on ideas one evening, I opted for a diluted version of William Shakepeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Leyna was okay with Juliet taking the “poison” that was really just a sleeping potion, ala Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. But suffice it to say that tragedy is not for four-year-olds. I had to change the ending and sugarcoat the scene at the Capulet tomb to provide the happy ending for Romeo and Juliet that Leyna expected and required.

But while Shakepeare’s plays may not live on (at least not true to script) in my daughter’s bathtub, they do live on in our community because of the Water Works Theatre Company. This month’s column spotlights and recognizes Macomb County attorney, Edward M. Nahhat, for his contributions to the performing arts as founder of the non-profit corporation, Water Works Theatre, currently in its sixth year as a professional arts organization.

This past September, the Arts, Communication, Entertainment and Sports Section (ACES) of the State Bar of Michigan honored Edward M. Nahhat as the 2006 recipient of the John Hensel Award. The award, named in honor of an ACES Section founder, is given to an attorney who has made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Michigan.

Edward Nahhat is a commercial litigation and Entertainment attorney with the Warren firm Caputo Brosnan PC (www.caputobrosnan.com), a resident of Royal Oak, Michigan, and the founder and CEO of the non-profit organization Water Works Theatre Company, Inc. (www.waterworkstheatre.com). Mr. Nahhat is a graduate of Wayne Law School (JD 1990) and Wayne State University (BFA Theatre 1983). Water Works produces the popular Shakespeare in the Park in Royal Oak summer event, as well as the children’s performing arts day camp KidShakespeare!. Since it’s founding in 2001, Water Works has provided professional opportunities for the area’s actors, directors and other theatre professionals and students. Water Works also provides high quality performing arts education programs for performance-minded youngsters and presents the only professional outdoor Shakespeare production in the state of Michigan. Many members of the Macomb County legal community have enjoyed and supported his company’s productions as well.

Jeffery Richardson, Chair of ACES said that “ACES is particularly impressed with the consistency of Ed Nahhat’s contribution to the long running Shakespeare in the Park in Royal Oak event, produced by Water Works Theatre Company. Ed Nahhat sets an example for other attorneys by giving directly to the community through his talent and dedication to the performing arts.”

Jim Ellison, Mayor of Royal Oak, salutes Ed Nahhat and all the Water Works artists, staff and volunteers stating that they “have brought to Royal Oak a measure of culture that is a significant contribution to the quality of life in the community.” And State Representative Marie Donigan (D-Royal Oak) adds that “Ed Nahhat is the kind of community-minded leader that deserves to be honored. His vision and dedication have added vibrancy to this community.”

This column started some time ago to recognize individual members of the Macomb County Bar who have given of their time and talents to benefit the community, and to attempt to counter some of society’s negative impressions of lawyers. In speaking with Ed Nahhat, he is proud to have used his experience as an attorney to lead Water Works Theater Company from an exciting idea to a company producing professional caliber theatre productions which enhance the quality of life in his community. However, Mr. Nahhat is quick to acknowledge that this column should not just be about him as an individual attorney. Mr. Nahhat shares his pride with, and pays tribute to, Caputo Brosnan PC, as his success is also a reflection of the progressive thinking of his firm that he has been able to dedicate the time necessary to pursue his passion for the arts.

The Macomb County Bar Association congratulates member Ed Nahhat for earning f the John Hensel Award and honors his commitment to the community. In the words of William Shakespeare, “Be great in act, as you have been in thought.”


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From the YLS Chair
"Come Out Come Out Where Ever You Are "
by Christy Pudyk, Young Lawyers Section Director

?I am in search of all new, young and/or non-social lawyers in the county! If you fit the previous description, the Macomb County Bar Association, Young Lawyers Section (MCBA/YLS) wants to see you at a future event.

I know coming to an event where you may not know anyone is scary, but it is worth it to get to know your colleagues. Three years ago I went to my first MCBA/YLS event- it was a social. I had no idea what the process was. I remember being nervous, and calling the then Chairperson, Dana Warnez. I felt bad for bothering her at work. But she was very kind. I told her I wanted to come to the event (it was at the Aspen) and wondered if I needed to RSVP. She advised me that since it was a social, you just show up, no RSVP was necessary. But she asked my name, and how long I had been practicing, and if I would be bringing anyone. Shyly I responded that I would be coming alone. She promised she would look out for me and commented on how brave it was that I was coming alone. I arrived at the Aspen later that week, still feeling shy and nervous because I really did not know anyone in the MCBA. But as soon as I walked in Dana approached me and introduced me to several people. I remember meeting Referee John Kennedy, and the Vice-Chair of the YLS, Carrie Fuca. They immediately “took me in” and helped me feel welcomed. It was a fun night and I will always be glad that I moved outside my fear and forced myself to go to this event.

The people I met that Thursday years ago are the ones I know I can go to with questions, or advice. They are friends. They are my mentors. Since then I have continued to attend MCBA events and have continued to grow my network of mentors and friends. They are a great group of people! In my opinion, we are definitely the most friendly bar in the state.
This month the YLS has a couple of events for those hiding to come out and meet other Macomb County attorneys. We will be doing an admission ceremony for the newly admitted attorneys and will do a social event following the ceremony. You will receive an email reminder of the date. Please come out and meet the new members of the Bar if you are not one of those being admitted on that day.

Our other main event in November will be the monthly 5:01 Social at Madison’s (the old Post) in Mt. Clemens. It continues at 5:01 (hence the name), on Thursday, November 16. There is no cost, no need to RSVP, and you can arrive whenever you are off work. This is a great event to get to know other young, younger, and young at heart attorneys!

I know it is scary going to an event where you do not know anyone but it is worth it! Step outside of your comfort zone and come to an event. Feel free to either call me at 586-416-4340, and let me know in advance you are coming so I can look for you and introduce you to others. Or contact the YLS chair, Karen Trickey, at 586-731-7400. All young lawyers, or the young at heart, are invited to our socials to get to know your fellow colleagues, and possibly even make life long friends.

Some of you have been pretty successful at hiding, but it is time to get out from under your rock, or stack of pleadings, and come out and meet your peers, get to know other attorneys, meet mentors, start friendships - just come out of your hiding place! n

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