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Bar Briefs January 06
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Bar Briefs
January 2006 • Volume 24 • Number 07

From the President
"A New Year" by Kathy J. Vogt

From the Executive Director
"Happy Birthday Macomb County Bar Association"

by Rick R. Troy

Circuit Court Corner by Keith Beasley

Elder Law
"Medicaid Limbo" by Alan Polack

From the MCBF
"We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us"
by Anthony Bellanca, MCBF President

Centennial Article
"The History of the Macomb County Bar Association"
by Lawerance Katz

From the WLAM
by Melissa King

Legal "Aid"
"Hon. John Bruff" by Julie Gatti

From the President
"A New Year" by Kathy J. Vogt

?Happy New Year! Another year is over. At this time of the year I have a tendency to reflect back over the year and look at the highs and lows. Certainly the Installation Ball was a very high point. My daughter’s engagement to a wonderful young man is another. My son has purchased a home with his lady, which makes me very happy. My husband and I celebrated 36 years of wedded bliss. Wow! It was a very good year!

On the other hand, I failed to accomplish many of my personal goals. I haven’t lost enough weight and I’m still smoking. Those have been perennial resolutions for many, many years. I am still not well organized and efficient in running my law practice.
So, the new New Years’ Resolution is to put an end to procrastination, get organized and be more efficient. Telephone calls being returned promptly and quickly preparing responses will be priorities. I always write out my goals and post them where I have to look at them daily. Maybe, just maybe, this will be the year I get these done!

The coming year promises to be very exciting. The Centennial Committee has been hard at work putting together the plans for multiple celebrations. We are finding that our Bar Association has a rich history. We plan to highlight the landmark cases and many noble attorneys as part of the project. The history of our Bar will be clearly displayed and open to the public. This project will be another important contribution to Macomb County made by the dedicated attorneys of our association.

My wish for all of you is to have a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2006! I welcome all the new attorneys who have joined the MCBA this past year and extend my thanks to those who have been supportive in the past. God Bless You Every One!!

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From the Executive Director
"Happy Birthday Macomb County Bar Association" by Rick R. Troy

?This month marks the 100th year of the MCBA’s recorded history. It is an honor and privilege to the Executive Director of what may soon be the second largest local bar association in the State of Michigan.

I for one am proud of our history and the people that have created it. Over the next eleven months the Bar Briefs magazine will feature articles on the people, places, cases, and the changes that have and continue to take place within the profession of law right here in Macomb County. We invite you to submit articles or letters and share your most interesting memories of practicing law here in Macomb County.

Special events? Of course we will have some! The first of which will take place next month, in February. As of this writing, it is being billed as the Centennial Opening Ceremony and will include a professionally assembled historical exhibit and an extra special agenda. Watch for details on how you can participate.

I am also excited about our future. The Bar continues to work for you to bring you opportunities for leadership, education, networking, clients, philanthropy, careers, and professional and personal savings on the services and products you use every day. As we continue the planning process for renovation of the Bar office, your needs as a member are the first being considered at the drafting table. Conference rooms, wireless connectivity, and state of the art audio visual equipment will soon be available to you because you are a member.

A New Year – A New Member Benefit

As a member of the Macomb County Bar Association you are automatically eligible to enroll in our new conference calling program. This is such a simple money saving and communication expanding service that you should be upset that we didn’t roll it out earlier! We’ve been holding back as we’ve been testing the service and it is truly the best performing and least expensive service available… period.

This is not an ordinary conference calling service either. It is rich with features that can be managed right from your desktop. Call recording, muting, call locking, roll call, dialing out to additional participants and real time call monitoring are just the beginning of these features. White board illustration, video, desktop sharing and slide show presentations are also included.
There is NO upfront cost to sign up, NO monthly costs, NO long term obligation and NO cancellation fees. Simply use the toll-free reservationless service at .09 cents per line/minute and pay as you go. There are even further discounts for volume users.
And.., unlike any other conference calling service, the MCBA receives 10 percent of the revenue generated by enrolled members. So do yourself and your Bar Association a favor and enroll today by calling 800.644.9060.

Perhaps you would like to learn more before you enroll. We've got that covered too! We have scheduled two totally free webinars that will walk you through all of the great features of this new benefit. MCBA members and their critical employees are encouraged to sign up for this 30 minute webinar to learn more about this great new member benefit. To register simply visit Macombbar.org and click on the Conference Call link. From there it will only take a few seconds to choose which webinar is most convenient for you; Wednesday, February 8 at 3:30 p.m. or Monday, February 13 at 3:30 p.m.

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Circuit Court Corner by Keith Beasley, Court Administrator

?A new year is dawning. It presents opportunities and challenges. Judge Viviano was reappointed Chief Judge for a two year term beginning January 1st. Judge Viviano appointed Judge Caretti Chief Judge Pro Tempore, Judge Biernat Presiding Judge of the Civil/Criminal Division and Judge Mark Switalski Presiding Judge of the Family Division. He is working hard to lead the Circuit Court in a process of continual improvement. He is advocating `results based' performance at all levels. He is open to new and different ideas as how to do business better. Under his leadership, we have accomplished quite a bit in 2005: The Juvenile Division referees and support staff moved into the N. Main building. The files were moved as well. The Juvenile Division successfully changed case management systems to CourtView. The Court, with the cooperation and assistance of County Clerk/Register of Deeds Carmella Sabaugh, implemented the financial module of CourtView in Circuit Court, which will lead to much improved tracking of receivables and assessments. The Court and the Clerk also began a One Day/One Trial jury system in November, reducing the number of days citizens have to serve from four to one, unless they are actually seated in a trial. He brought in an expert to discuss case flow management. It led to halving the time for binding criminal cases over from district courts and the review of other practices. There has been on-going Jail overcrowding, leading to emergency releases and the discussion of many potential techniques to reduce overcrowding. A key development to reduce overcrowding is a Jail Bed Allocation Agreement, beginning December 1, 2005. Judges will individually manage their use of Jail beds under this agreement. In addition, a new tether program was created for defendants who are unable to initially afford tether.

Judge Viviano has led a group which is crafting a `purpose statement' to guide staff in going about their business. If the Court staff are all aware of our critical functions, share the same core values and are committed to the same purpose and vision, great things can be accomplished. The draft currently is:

"The purpose of the Macomb County Circuit Court is to serve the public by providing a fair, expeditious and impartial forum for the resolution of civil and criminal matters through the rule of law."

At the same time, Macomb County is facing budget deficits. This is unprecedented in my experience in Macomb County. The Court is being asked to reduce its budgets by 3 percent. This number doesn't sound too high, but it is a sea change. There is little `fat' in any of our line items. Thus, any cuts hurt and present difficult choices.

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Elder Law
"Medicaid Limbo" by Alan Polack

?Last month I mentioned the four bill package introduced by Senator Switalski to implement traditional Medicaid estate recovery in Michigan. SB 819 would provide that “the Department of Community Health has first priority to recover the costs of medical assistance paid on behalf of the medical assistance applicant or recipient for the remaining principal of the annuity upon the death of the annuitant.” SB 820 establishes an estate recovery program which would, among other things, place and record liens on medical assistance recipient’s property. SB 821 would require that death certificates be filed by funeral directors with the new estate recovery unit. SB 822 amends EPIC which would include medical assistance payments in subparagraph (f) of section 3805. This is the section which establishes priority of payments from deceased estates. SB 820, 821 and 822 are tie-barred. Meanwhile, the Governor’s bi-partisan task force on Medicaid long term care has developed an alternative to estate recovery. This plan is known as estate preservation which would establish a statewide insurance-style program. The program would be funded by adding 1 dollar per month to mortgage payments. Unfortunately, the technical problems involved with this collection method has, for now, stalled the implementation of this plan. In addition, the plan initially was designed to be an alternative to estate recovery. Now the Michigan Department of Community Health is looking at it as a supplement to estate recovery. At any rate, the plan appears to be in limbo at the present time.

So the question remains “Will Michigan do estate recovery, estate preservation, a combination of the two or nothing at all?” I will share whatever information I get in the future.

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From the MCBF
"We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us" by Anthony Bellanca, MCBF President

?I think this was a line from an ancient Pogo comic strip. It is cited here to ask that you take another look at your Macomb County Bar Foundation. We need to do this because I am certain that, to a great degree, the Bar Association membership doesn’t know much about the Foundation or its work. Because we have worked quietly, but effectively, in support of worthy programs and institutions, you may not know much about us. The Bar Foundation also makes meaningful contributions to the programs and activities of the Bar Association itself. This serves to provide non-dues income to the Association which results in a further benefit to you, the members. You should take another look too at a part of the Foundation’s mission. You might agree that a certain phrase in that mission statement is one that we should not only carry in our hearts and minds as we practice this noble profession, but perhaps it should be something you can ask your Aunt Tillie to embroider on a pillow for your office. It goes like this:

“. . . improve the administration of justice, ensure that legal services are made available to all people and promote the role of lawyers as an indispensable part of our free society.”

There is no doubt that our image as a profession must be improved. We as lawyers are what make the “grand experiment” known as America work. It is all well and good that we continue to protest the politicians’ and media’s negative sneering. It is much more important to go out into the community and do positive things until everyone knows that what we do is good and honest and ethical and fruitful, and that . . .

righting a wrong is at least as important as writing a prescription.

We must think of lawyers and the profession as a body of talented educated, ethical and devoted men and women who are in the business of righting wrongs.

The most recent article in this column had to do with the effort on the part of the Foundation’s Board of Directors to bring the Foundation from a great organization to one which is “Built to Last.”

The Building Has Begun

The first step was the recent strategic retreat conducted for the Board of Directors by Mr. Chris Newbold. Mr. Newbold is the president of ALPS Foundation Services, an organization, whose mission it is to assist bar foundations in their growth and success.

The process began with an assessment of the Foundation, its history, its present, its strengths and its opportunities for growth in the future. The Foundation will continue to concentrate on law-related, educational efforts which serve the public in a manner that brings respect and admiration to lawyers, and be utilized to perform and carry out programs and services reflecting positively on the image of lawyers and the legal profession.

We recognize that funding, resources and competition for charitable dollars will be difficult in this economic climate. We must gain visibility within the legal community and to continue to support programs which will expose to more of the general public the good work lawyers do.

There is no better way for us, as a profession in Macomb County, to achieve these necessary and important goals. There is no better resource than the Foundation to do this. If we don’t do it, who will? If we won’t do it, then maybe we become our own enemy. We need your help and support. You must consider that this will be one of the best ways that we can have a significant impact on our community as lawyers. While another profession was leaching George Washington to death, we were writing the Constitution. From then until today, we are the haven for the oppressed, the protectors of liberty, the insurers of justice and the fortress against tyranny.
[Wow! Have I gone too far? . . . . . No, it’s true.]

Get Involved!

We owe it to each other and to our community to get to work on this. We have said before in this column, “We want to know what you think.” We solicit your ideas and your involvement. All of us can look with pride upon the fact that the Macomb County Bar Foundation is an organization doing important work in the community in the name of all lawyers and the profession in general. We should all be able to get our arms around the Foundation, as it is the one local, charitable organization of lawyers, for the community and for the profession.

We welcome your comments, and hope that you will take just a few moments to ask some questions and give us your ideas. Please email questions or comments to MCBA@macombbar.org. More later.

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Centennial Article
"The History of the Macomb County Bar Association" by Lawrence Katz

?Michigan law required drivers to pull over to the side of the road if approaching horses appeared spooked by their automobiles. The Michigan State Telephone Company published the nation’s first classified business yellow pages. A loaf of bread cost seven cents and a dozen eggs 26 cents. A bound and shackled Harry Houdini jumped off the Belle Isle Bridge and emerged from the frigid waters of the Detroit River free of the restraints. The year was 1906.

A year earlier, attorney Robert F. Eldredge had written in his book, “Past and Present of Macomb County Michigan: together with biographical sketches of many of its leading and prominent citizens and illustrious dead” (1905) (pp. 708-709):

Macomb County can well be proud of its representatives in the legal profession in the past and the members of the present bar have before it an inspiring example in the record of their predecessors for energy, ability and faithfulness. If they desire to maintain the standard, it well behooves them to put forth their best efforts.

The present bar of Macomb County is made up of the following members: George M. Crocker, Silas B. Spier, Martin Crocker, O. Lungerhausen, Byron R. Erskine, Robert F. Eldredge, Seth W. Knight, John A. Weeks, Franz C. Kuhn, Varnum J. Bowers, Wm. S. Jenney, Neil E. Reid, Winent H. D. Fox, Alfred J. Parker, Frederick C. Miller, F. J. Hole, Wm. J. Dusse, Wm. T. Kelly, Edward A. Sumner, Wm. F. Sawn, Clarence H. Nunneley, Allen W. Kent, Charles H. Hummerich, Bert V. Nunneley, and Wm. T. Cross, of Mt. Clemens; Dwight N. Lowell, J. L. Starkweather, W. T. Starkweather, Charles C. Thorington, Lafayette H. Bates. Wm. T. Hosner, Henry J. McKay, of Romeo; O. S. Burgess, W. S. Stone, of Richmond; Bert C. Preston, and Lynn M. Johnson, of Armada; George E. Eckert, of Utica; Floyd E. Andrews, of New Baltimore, and Abraham L. Cook, of Roseville.

These attorneys played significant roles in the advancement of public life on the county and state levels. More than any other, attorney Martin Crocker (1858-1938), was responsible for the development of the City of Mount Clemens. After graduating from Mount Clemens High School, he had studied law in the office of his father, the Honorable Thomas Martin Crocker (1825-1902), and graduated from The University of Michigan Law School in 1879. He became mayor of Mt. Clemens in 1902, and was later appointed postmaster of Mt. Clemens by the President. Crocker donated land for a street (with the understanding that it would always be called Crocker Avenue), gave money to help pay for the Macomb-Crocker bridge, later replaced by the Cass-Crocker bridge, and arranged for an extension of Crocker Avenue to Lake St. Clair.

The author of the book was the grandson of Macomb County’s first private practitioner, Robert P. Eldredge (1808-1884). The elder Eldredge had first hung out a shingle in Mt. Clemens after passing an examination in open court in Detroit in the Fall of 1828. He appeared before the patriarch of Macomb County judiciary, Christian Clemens (1768-1844), who, lacking legal education, decided cases on pure common sense. These were the early years of Mt. Clemens, when young men read law in the offices of established attorneys in order to prepare for admission to the bar. When more educational opportunities became available, students attended local schools and then graduated from The University of Michigan Law School.

Robert P. Eldredge’s son, James B. Eldredge (1835-1901), was a Macomb County prosecutor (1864-1866, 1870-1876), Probate Judge (1876-1893), and Circuit Judge (1894-1900). James’ son, attorney and author Robert F. Eldredge (1864-1948), had a sister, Julia, who married attorney Silas B. Spier.

It was on December 11, 1905, that a small core of attorneys with a collective vision - the creation of a permanent organization of Macomb County attorneys – met to discuss legal issues and other matters of mutual interest. They nominated prominent Romeo attorney Dwight Lowell to make a list of attorneys in the county. Not satisfied with that challenge, Lowell compiled a state of the law and a history of the legal profession in the county through the year 1905. His report to his colleagues is preserved in a record book which can be found in the office of the Macomb County Bar Association.

After the first of the year, the 39 lawyers in Eldredge’s book began meeting formally, and elected Lowell their first President.
This had by no means been the first effort at formal organization. In fact, the Macomb County Bar Association had existed in various states of vitality long before the turn of the Twentieth Century. An excerpt from the February 21, 1901, obituary of James B. Eldredge reads: “A meeting of the bar association of which he was elected president at its organization December 31st, 1889, was called at once hearing of his death on Monday, and without exception the members fittingly testified to the high regard in which he was held.” The Macomb County Bar Association had handled Eldredge’s funeral arrangements and adopted a formal resolution honoring him, which was published with the obituary.

A March 9, 1906, article published in the now-defunct Mount Clemens Monitor reads in part: “A meeting of the Bar Association was held Monday, at which the matter of purchasing portraits of the Macomb county circuit judges was taken up. The idea was generally favored and it may be that before long fine oil pictures of Judges [Arthur L.] Canfield, [James B.] Eldredge, and [James G.] Tucker, [Jr.], will decorate the court room. It is thought that they will cost $150 each.” A century later, evidence of the success of such projects can be found on our circuit courtroom walls.

In 1908, Robert F. Eldredge was elected President and Franz C. Kuhn Secretary. (Robert’s father, James B. Eldredge, is currently listed as bar president for that year, but he died, as discussed earlier, in 1901.) Kuhn (1872-1926) had also graduated from the local high school and attended The University of Michigan Law School. In the fall of 1894, he had become a circuit court commissioner. Four years later, he was Macomb County prosecuting attorney, and then probate judge. In 1909, Governor Fred M. Warner appointed him Attorney General of Michigan. By 1912, at the age of 40, he had become Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, one of the youngest state supreme court justices in the United States.

As the administration of President Silas B. Spier ended in 1911, a constitution and by-laws were adopted, providing for annual elections and barring from membership Macomb County attorneys “guilty of immorality.” Former county prosecutor Oscar C. Lungerhausen was elected president and the Association emerged from what the Monitor had described on September 22, 1911, as a “moribund condition.” (That article shows that Silas B. Spier, while not previously listed as such, was a MCBA President, beginning in either 1909 or 1910, and that Lungerhausen, listed as MCBA President as of 1914, actually held the position as early as 1911.)

As the Eldredge name had been in the past, the Lungerhausen and Spier names remained prominent as our bar gradually grew in the ensuing decades. Silas B. Spier’s son, James Eldredge Spier, was a Macomb County Circuit Judge from 1929 to 1971. Judge Spier’s son, Robert E. Spier, was a Macomb County Probate Judge from January 1, 1977, to December 31, 1992. Lungerhausen’s son, John Traugott Lungerhausen, became county bar president in 1940.

In the early years, the president of the Association entertained at a wild duck dinner. A short-lived effort to establish yet another tradition involved the hosting of a dinner by anyone who had received a retainer of $10,000.00 or more. Fred McGraw of St. Clair Shores gave the first one. It was also the last.

The Macomb Bar has been at the forefront of several Michigan legal milestones. These include the Metzger Motor Car, Henry Ford Libel, Mount Clemens Pottery and Milo Radulovich cases.

The Metzger Motor Car Case and Due Process. In 1914, Silas B. Spier, as co-counsel, successfully persuaded the U. S. Supreme Court in Metzger Motor Car Co. v Parrott to defer to a Michigan ruling that a 1913 vicarious liability statute was unconstitutional because it failed to protect owners who lacked knowledge and had not given consent.

The Henry Ford Libel Case and Freedom of the Press. In June of 1919, Judge Tucker presided over a libel trial which aroused nationwide interest. Henry Ford had sued the Chicago Tribune for $1 million after that paper published an editorial calling the automobile magnate an anarchist. The Wayne County Circuit Court had changed venue to Macomb County because the venire contained too many Ford Motor Company employees. The trial was held in the second-floor courtroom of the three-story 1880 Macomb County Courthouse (the site of the current Old County Building). The jury returned a verdict in favor of Henry Ford – granting him a judgment of six cents.

The Mount Clemens Pottery case and Economic Justice. In 1946, United States Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy of Michigan authored Steven Anderson, et al v Mount Clemens Pottery Company, a landmark labor law decision interpreting the Fair Labor Standards Act. The court there ruled that the employees should be paid for all the time they are on the premises (“portal to portal”). High profile attorney Bert V. Nunneley of Mt. Clemens (1881-1972) was co-counsel for the pottery company. In 1919 Nunneley had been appointed Special Attorney General to work with Alexander J. (“Alex”) Groesbeck on the prosecution in a celebrated murder case that had brought Groesbeck back to Mount Clemens. Groesbeck (1873-1953) was a descendant of the early French settlers in the Macomb County area, born on a farm in what is now the City of Warren. After graduating from The University of Michigan Law School, he had established a practice in the City of Detroit before becoming Michigan’s Attorney General and it was while he was serving in that capacity that he returned to Mt. Clemens to prosecute that case. Following his term as Attorney General in 1921, he began the first of a record-three terms as Michigan’s Governor.

Nunneley was elected MCBA President in 1931, and his son, William Nunneley (1908-1983), followed in his shoes in 1955. The Mt. Clemens law firm Nunneley founded in June of 1903 after his graduation from The University of Michigan Law School, currently known as Hirt, MacArthur & Maison, PLLC, has been recognized as a Michigan Centennial Business.
A memorial plaque to the Pottery case was dedicated on September 1, 1994, at the Riverfront Gazebo by the Municipal Building in Mt. Clemens and placed at the Macomb County Courthouse along the wall by the statue of General Clemens.
The Milo Radulovich Case and the Fall of McCarthyism. In 1953, MCBA member Kenneth N. Sanborn and Charles C. Lockwood represented Milo Radulovich, a then-resident of Dexter, Michigan, in his fight against the United States Air Force. The Air Force had attempted to decommission Radulovich for associating with his allegedly-subversive father and sister. Taking the case pro bono, these attorneys prevailed and the Air Force reinstated the commission. A memorial plaque was dedicated and placed outside at the Michigan State University College of Law Building in East Lansing on September 2, 1998. Sanborn subsequently became a Michigan legislator and judge, and retired from the Macomb County Circuit Court bench in 1990. In 1998, Judge Sanborn was given a Champions of Justice Award by the State Bar of Michigan for extraordinary devotion to a cause. He remains active today as a mediator, arbitrator and visiting judge.

By the end of the 1950s, the MCBA, led by Macomb County Circuit Judge Howard Carroll, was still holding at about 75 members. Although the Association was still primarily social in nature, Judge Carroll added a new dimension with “training sessions” held in his basement. Each year, the Macomb County Circuit Judges hosted an annual “Tom & Jerry” Christmas party at the Medea Hotel, and MCBA charter member Neil E. Reid hosted a variety of summer parties.

Reid had come a long way since graduating from Romeo High School in 1889. He had attended Harvard Law School on a scholarship but returned to Michigan to become a court reporter to finance his education at the Detroit College of Law. In 1910, he was appointed to the Macomb County Probate Court, and in 1923, appointed to the Macomb County Circuit Court. In 1944 he took his elected seat on the Michigan Supreme Court and later became Chief Justice. Over the years, Justice Reid entertained county bar association members as well as church groups and Boy Scouts at the Reid cottage at Anchor Bay and at his Drummond Island cottage in northern Michigan. Fare was generally venison with an occasional ox roast.

In 1947, Mildred Vlaich became the first woman admitted to the Macomb County Bar Association. Over the next decade, she would be joined by Justine Ann Orris, Marie Kamberg, Betty Dunn, Mary E. McDevitt and Florence Schoenherr Warnez. Vlaich was a 52nd District Judge from 1975 to 1981.

At the age of 27, Mary McDevitt became the first woman to don robes in the County in 1957, when she was sworn in as Justice of the Peace in Roseville, the area once called Erin Township. The Roseville native had graduated from Mount Clemens St. Mary High School and obtained her law degree in 1954. Her father, the late James E. McDevitt, had been a lawyer who was appointed village attorney in 1936 and died shortly thereafter. McDevitt became Roseville Municipal Judge on January 1, 1959, and on January 1, 1969, 39th District Judge for the cities of Roseville and Fraser. She remained the only female on the bench in Macomb County until 1982, when Kathleen Jansen was elected to the Macomb County Probate bench. Judge McDevitt remarked at the time of her retirement on January 1, 1997, “I don’t consider myself a woman’s libber or a pioneer . . . I am simply a survivor.” Judge Jansen was elevated to the Michigan Court of Appeals in 1990, a position she still holds, through popular election.

Fifteen years after Judge Jansen’s promotion, the Macomb County Circuit-Probate bench includes five women, Judges Deborah Servitto (1990), Mary Chrzanowski (1992), Pamela Gilbert O’Sullivan (1994), Diane Druzinski (2002), and Tracey Yokich (2003).

Over the past half-century, membership has grown with the county’s expanding population. In the 1960s, membership doubled from about 200 to about 400, as the venue for monthly meetings shifted from Judge Carroll’s basement to various local restaurants. Robert MacKenzie was a force for progressive reform and increased professionalism in our local bar. He founded the Young Lawyers Section of the MCBA, spearheaded the continuing legal educational movement and encouraged more community-oriented bar services. MacKenzie succeeded his law partner, prominent criminal defense attorney James Daner (later appointed Macomb County Circuit Judge) on the State Bar Board of Commissioners, where he represented the county with distinction. He was instrumental in the formal recognition of legal assistants in the State of Michigan.

After MacKenzie turned 36, the Young Lawyers Section became inactive, but was resurrected in the early ’70’s through the leadership of Gary Anthony, the Section’s first chairman. Under Anthony’s leadership, the Section initiated “free legal conferences” on Law Day for several years, which evolved over time into the MCBA Lawyer Referral Service
After two failed millage elections, the County Board of Commissioners authorized construction of a new County Courthouse in 1967, financed through the County Building Authority. The new building was dedicated in 1969 and opened in 1970. By this time, the Association had evolved into the organization it is today. In 1971, the MCBA became a non-profit 501(c)6 corporation, hired Judge Alton Noe’s secretary on a part-time basis to keep permanent records, and began sending newsletters to its members. The Bar Association obtained space adjacent to the second-floor meeting chambers of the Board of Commissioners for a lawyers lounge and meeting place. The lounge was located in prime space on the southeast corner of the building and beautifully decorated and furnished at MCBA expense, through the efforts of Charles Towner and Paul McNamara in particular. This lounge, however, was used infrequently because of its remote location and lack of privacy for client conferences. Moreover, the lounge was the scene of occasional conflict when County Commissioners insisted on using the lounge as their meeting room. In 1980, the Association vacated the lawyers lounge at the direction of the County and sold its furniture.
Because the Association in the late 1970s had committed to a comprehensive Lawyer Referral Service and retained a public relations firm to run the program with secretary - and later its first full-time Executive Director - Karen Schmidt, the directors were committed to the re-establishment of offices in the Courthouse for that purpose. President Gary Anthony approached Judge Robert Chrzanowski, who agreed to make his large fourth floor conference room available to the Association and then obtained approval of MCBA occupancy in the Courthouse by the County Commissioners on the basis that (1) the lawyer referral program, administered at the sole expense of the Association, performed an important public service by offering free legal consultations to County residents and (2) the Association would not occupy space needed for County purposes. Although no lease was signed, there was a tacit understanding that the Association would make an annual donation for maintenance of the County law library. Anthony recalls: “Bob Chrzanowski’s gracious consent to allow use of his large conference room by the Association is the only reason we have a Courthouse presence today. We had nowhere to go. Bob should be remembered for that significant contribution.” The MCBA’s current lease with the county provides assurance that this location will remain its long-term home.

By 1979, MCBA membership had increased to 663. In the 1980s the Bar Association was run by the public relations firm of Linda Eckert and Associates. By the time Judy Flury became Executive Director in 1986, membership had increased to over 800. By 1993, membership had increased to approximately 1,100.

In 1985 and 1986, under the leadership of President Gene Bolanowski, the MCBA initiated ambitious programs designed to stimulate dialogue with the community and improve the Bar’s professional image. In both those years the Association held “Citizen’s Conferences,” with speakers including Michigan Supreme Court Justices Patricia Boyle and Dennis Archer, Attorney General Frank Kelley and Father William Cunningham. In their reports to the membership published in Bar Briefs, participants described the “speak out sessions” between lawyers and the general public as being most meaningful. Those reports suggested that, through direct dialogue, lawyers had learned that they needed to communicate more effectively with the public, and the public learned that they needed to acquire a better knowledge about the legal system.

In 1987, Justine Orris became the first woman elected president of the Macomb County Bar Association. “Being a first is not easy,” Orris said when she took office. “Just look at what happened to poor Eve with Adam . . . I do not want to be known as the first and last.” At the time of her election, Orris reflected on the sacrifices she had to make after passing the bar: “In those days, a woman attorney had to give up a part of her social life to advance – much more so than a man. By the time I found ‘Mr. Right,’ I realized things were too complicated for marriage and a family, and I was still trying to make a living.”

Following Judy Flury as Executive Directors were Sharon Eineman, Jean Scott, Maria Ellerman, Z. Kay (Fischer) Fitzpatrick and Rick R. Troy, who has held the position since 1999.

In the past 35 years, the MCBA has adapted to the demands of a changing society. As the county’s population burgeoned and its rural character radically transformed, the MCBA became a full-service, cosmopolitan bar association. It now has 1,271 members and four full-time staff members. The Association’s mission has broadened as it has expanded member services such as legal seminars, developed a user friendly website, and added public service programs such as pro bono representation of indigent clients.

Beginning in the late 1980s, under the leadership of Chief Judges Robert Chrzanowski, Peter Maceroni and Antonio Viviano, respectively, and Court Administrator Keith Beasley, the Macomb County Circuit Court has strived to improve the administration of justice.

Although the roots of the MCBA surely reach back to the 1880s or earlier, 2006 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the Macomb County Bar Association reorganized by Dwight Lowell.

All of us know how much this country has changed in the past century. The face of the nation’s bar naturally reflects these changes in society as a whole. Our 39 founders were all men. Often, they either emerged from or founded Macomb County’s most prominent families. They played an integral role in the economic and industrial growth of the County in the early years of the Twentieth Century. Today, as everywhere else, our practitioners are women and men from a variety of backgrounds responding to increasing demands for legal services from all segments of society.

More noteworthy is what remains the same. The legal profession as practiced in Macomb County has retained much of its essential character. Most lawyers still engage in the general practice of law, either individually or in small firms. The bench and bar maintain a collegial relationship. The Macomb County Court Building has a navigable atmosphere.

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From The WLAM
"Connections" by Melissa King

?Happy New Year. I hope you all had a safe and happy holiday season. Now is the time of year when the presents are all open, the bills are starting to roll in and many of us resolve to make changes for the coming year.

In 2005, WLAM-Macomb resolved to bring back the Silent Auction. I’m pleased to say that not only did we keep our resolution but thanks to the contributions of many and the efforts of our Master of Ceremonies Shawn Burr, we were able to raise over $12,000 for our local drug court programs. Thank you to all who contributed by donating items and attending the event. A special thank you goes out to Chair Saleema Goodman Sheikh and her staff and recruits for organizing the event, storing the numerous contributions and ensuring that things went smoothly over the many months of planning and WLAM-Macomb Vice President Patti Maceroni, for co-chairing the event. Thanks to their efforts and those of our tireless committee including Maryanne Deneweth, Julie Hlywa, MaryJo Diegel and Darra Slanec and our volunteers Carol Grant, Krystal Jackson, and Margaret Dunford the event was a huge success! Thank you all for your hard work.

Now for those of you who have resolved to make new contacts, revamp your business, or just spend less time in the office, WLAM-Macomb has your answer. We all know that functions with other Bar members are a great way to build referral networks and relationships with other lawyers, but wouldn’t it be nice to explore new ways to meet other business people outside of our current circles.

At the end of January, WLAM-Macomb will co-host “Connections ~ Networking with Metro Detroit Professionals…” with F.I.T., Inc. F.I.T., Inc. is a women-owned investment corporation which, like WLAM-Macomb, has set for itself the goals of helping to promote women as professionals and business owners, and working with other professionals to make our communities better places to live.

We will be meeting for dinner, networking, conversation and information.

(Yes, guys, you are invited, too!) We hope you will join us for an informal, fun evening with other Metro-Detroit professionals. Please bring your business cards, your marketing and networking experiences and ideas, and a friend – lawyer or non-lawyer—if you like.

Look for more details and RSVP information, via your mailbox or email, before the second week of January! In the meantime, if you have questions, please contact Maryanne Deneweth at mdeneweth@kirkandhuth.com, or 586-412-4900.

We hope to see you there.

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Legal "Aid"
"Hon. John Bruff " by Julie Gatti

?You may recall my previous grumblings in this publication lamenting the passing of my “young lawyer” status. That was so 2004. Okay, so maybe a little 2005, too. And, although I realize that a certain colleague (“chrisfischer” she sneezes here) will be disappointed that his merciless attempts to remind me of my aging, shall lose their force and effect, I herein announce that I accept my newfound maturity. After talking with inspiring retired Judge John B. Bruff, I see nothing but opportunities ahead.
Last month, I introduced this column as the first in a series of articles focusing on those individuals among us who are giving back to society, hoping to put to rest any doubt in your mind that those jokes about sharks not eating lawyers out of professional courtesy are so passé.

The Honorable John B. Bruff is another extraordinary example of a member of our Macomb County Bar who, in his retirement, is still selflessly giving of his time and considerable talents to serve this community. While his biography is too lengthy and far too impressive to be given justice in this limited space, most of you will remember Judge Bruff for his outstanding service as a Macomb County Circuit Court Judge from 1985 to 2000. But have you heard what Judge Bruff has been up to since his retirement? Where do I begin?

For starters, Judge Bruff is proud to be part of those who are transforming the operation of the Macomb Juvenile Justice Center, formerly known as the Youth Home. Following complaints from parents of inmate abuse, escapes, misconduct by some staff members, and reports from the state about the facility failing to meet Michigan standards, Judge Bruff spearheaded a committee to delve into the problems at the center. He was dismayed to learn that corrections officers received little training on how to handle the young inmates. He and the other members of the committee were also surprised to find that there were no written manuals on policies, procedures and operations at the facility.

Following a six-month study, Judge Bruff and other members of the committee put forth recommendations to improve the Juvenile Justice Center for the benefit of the youth it serves. All of the committee’s recommendations were adopted by the Macomb County Board of Commissioners, including plans to seek accreditation for the center. Judge Bruff, through his work on an advisory board, is committed to supporting implementation of training and policies that will promote the humane treatment and mental and intellectual growth of the young inmates. The advisory board consists of Judge Bruff and nineteen other members, including Hon. Matthew Switalski and Hon. Catherine Steenland. Judge Bruff is hopeful that the center will see progress in programs to prepare the youths for re-entry into the community upon their release and reduce recidivism by providing job and life skills.

Judge Bruff also volunteers as a mediator for The Resolution Center where, as a neutral third party, he assists disputants find a mutually agreeable solution. He was natural to serve on the Center’s Board of Directors and since 2001 has helped develop new mediation programs in the courts.

Since 1989 Judge Bruff has presided over the MCBA’s Law Day Ceremony that bestows awards to those 1st through 8th grade students who have written essays or created posters depicting a theme of law. This year Judge Bruff will again preside over a special centennial year ceremony that will include 9th through 12th graders as they join the younger students in relating their knowledge of the separate branches of government.

Judge Bruff also finds time to serve on the Board of the charitable Macomb County Bar Foundation where he has played an instrumental role in the creation of its strategic plan. But if you think that Judge Bruff isn’t letting any grass grow under his feet in retirement, think again.

Judge Bruff has had a lifetime ambition of becoming a Master Gardener. Before retirement, he could never find the time to devote to the 12-week program. In 2000, Judge Bruff completed the course, took the exam, and has maintained his Master Gardener status ever since. He, along with his neighbor, Henry Wells, volunteers his time, energy and talents to care for two of the eight gardens on the county bike path. This spring, I encourage you to take the time to view Judge Bruff’s gardens on the bike path off Wellington Crescent between Mt. Clemens’ Shady Side Park and Harper Avenue. Not only does it make our community a more beautiful place to live and work, it’s a great reminder that life is never so busy that there is no time to serve.

In the meanwhile, if you’re vacationing somewhere warm this winter, remember….watch out for sharks.

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