Tuesday, March 10, 2009


3/10/09 By Terry Bankert

Thank You for allowing me into the judicial selection process. Possibly the only threshold was application. But I feel good about it.

In this profession where so much of our time is spent with silly little people trying to tell us we do not know what we are doing. The judicial selection process is a personal validation process, we think we are good enough.

Now I suppose the most prudent thing to do would be to make my best case here in a blog. I will not do that. Instead lets talk of justice in the family court. From the eyes of the consumer or rather their prodigy the children.

You may be divorcing but your children lives are being devastate. They will no longer have a mommy and daddy at how. They may think it is their fault. They want to love both parents. They want their parents to stop arguing and being hurtful to each other. They do not want to be put in the middle. They are watching an learning, good our bad, on how to treat their future spouse and children by how to treat yours.

Now a little aside as to the process. I am continually ticked off when I hear a Harvard or Yale type lawyer, or worse yet an Auburn Hills wanna be talk of family law. I quit th INN because of this. I usually wonder what planet they practice family law from. ICLE hires this types to scare the beegeebers out of us at conference. Our guts churn as we realize that these elites may evaluate us when we are challenged through the State Bar citizen complaint process. Discovery in low income , house , debt and a couple kids, run of the mill divorce cases is more of a bench mark concept than a “no stone unturned” reality. Well for every one except Barney. That’s another story.

Part of the application process is to fill out q questionnaire. Provide writing samples. What you provide is the rarity not the norm but your best. Or the best your secretary could frame out for you. Family Law is a raging river cascading through a narrow gorge. Most writing are simply to the point relying on a small body of law.

Second “out of town” attorney’s call your current adversaries, the guys and gals , recently in a case opposite you. Your gut churns again, pay back time. You have listed judges you hope will speak favorably of you. Your gut churns again, was that just a friendly false front, are you doomed?

Then the interview. In the Granite Halls of the State Bar, I have done this before, you wait outside the Great Hall to be summoned forth ,weighed and measured. First time I was nervous in years was my first interview. You cannot take in the whole room. The interview is with 20 or more people, seems like a hundred. Then you realize the caliber of attorney present, your betters. Your gut churns again. Now place to run no place to hide. In the end everyone is polite. They are amused a they watch the children of Flint apply for power. My theory is you earn power you do not ask for it. But that’s another story. The applicant wants to think that this group will spot them as the “gem” of justice system. They hope the Governor should elevate them to the highest calling an attorney can have, Judge. In the end their real job is to make sure that if you are a bottom feeding carp the governor knows. There is a representative of the Governor in the room.

But back to the kids.

For most people, 50% of the population, their only experience with the justice system is traffic tickets and Family Court. Family Court is a lot of things, here I will talk about families with kids in divorce.

What do they see. Emotional cattle calls on temporary motion days and on occasion that excruciating delay to get a hearing. They want somebody with a robe on to hear from their mouth and witness the plight their children are in. Some how the process stumbles to a temporary order fair to unfair then the five months of waiting where the kids are struck in a crumbled life, warring parents, parents acting on occasion more child like than their own kids. Then back to the justice system for Pre Trial, Settlement conference and first, second then sometimes third trial date nearly a year latter. CHILDREN are caught in the middle of this chaos. A chaos often created by the attorney and allowed by the Judge.

We need in Genesee County
1.Quick interim orders to freeze that status quo or decide the children are in harms way and change the status quo. Judge Beagle has the best model with his referee Krellowitz.
2.Speedy hearing on the inteium order with referees working in close concert with the judge assigned . Sounds obvious, its not happening in a couple of court.
3.One guaranteed review of the temporary order with the judge upon request of either party. Often these are brushed aside if the pre trial is approaching.
4.The judge must demand the local rules, pretrial orders, temporary orders be followed and apply teeth to the process. Judge Weiss was the best he will be missed.
5. Pre trial conferences that a meaningful
6. Mandatory settlement conferences that are meaningful.
7. Start all trials on the date they are set, allow openings than knock them off one at a time.The court should schedule over flow next days. Schedule fewer trials per days and start them all.
8.On motion day demand civility and reward the written product. Limit oral presentation to issues raises in pleadings. Stop the theatrics, reward the serious.
9. Change the Prosecutors hearing on petition for child support to award specific parenting time. Award this to dad if he is present and minimal inquiry ,standard parenting time, and if objected send directly to a referee for a mini hearing. Young dads walking out of their first court date with a support order and no specific parenting time is unjust.

The judge must control the court room from the over zealous attorney and focus on protecting the children. Leave it up top the attorney to protect the property.

One word about family court and other civil courts. The genteel are appalled by the frenzy of Family Court. My answer is we have to accomplish in 9 days what you have 9 months to do. You have a quiet environment of gentlemen savagery as opposed to the ruckus of abandoned moms concerned with feeding their kids. We can have as little as 9 days before we are arguing a temporary order. In low assets cases these temporary orders become permanent.

The other civil tort practitioner have 9 months before their summary disposition hearing. Its just a different environment in Family Court where the judge rewards the louder talker the author of outrageous claims. My advice quite rewarding take control of your court room run a hot bench. Mine will sizzle.

So I interview at 2:10 today. Family Court is about the kids. Governor please pick accordingly. As for the interview, I was nervous last time I will not be today. Appointed or not appointed in 2010 I am running.

Posted Here by Terry Bankert

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