The Diversity and Inclusion Action Team (DIAT)
The Diversity and Inclusion Action Team (DIAT) had an exciting year filled with engaging programming.
- The State Bar of Michigan American Indian Law Section and DIAT co-sponsored its 3rd Annual Virtual Diversity Lunch on the application of ADR disciplines and the principles of diversity and inclusion in the context of American Indian Law. DIAT Co-Chair Phillip A. Schaedler and Stacey L. Rock of the American Indian Law Section, moderated a discussion around peacemaking and how it can be utilized in various settings, featuring panelists Hon. David D. Raasch (Ret.), Belinda Dulin, and Hon. Timothy J Connors. The panel provided insight on how to utilize the concepts of peacemaking in any setting, takeaways from peacemaking for ADR providers, and how peacemaking differs and complements other forms of ADR.
- DIAT hosts a book club that meets quarterly to discuss media that intersects with the themes of diversity and law. In August, book club Chair Margaret Costello led the group through a thoughtful discussion that reflected on the twentieth anniversary of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” by Michelle Alexander. On November 14, 2023, the club will discuss “South to America,” by Imani Perry.
- Author Dan Berstein (mhmediate.com) presented on behalf of DIAT for the section’s Annual Meeting on September 29, 2023. DIAT Co-Chair Lisa Timmons moderated a discussion with Berstein on “Discrimination in Dispute Resolution.” Berstein candidly detailed the impact of mental health discrimination, and how ADR practitioners can recognize and prevent mental health discrimination during dispute resolution. Berstein offered a wealth of resources for the ADR “toolkit” to notice disparities, address them, and prevent them in the future.
- DIAT circulated the 2023 Directory of ADR Providers of Women in Dispute Resolution, created by the Women in Dispute Resolution (WIDR), a subcommittee of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution, and encouraged its membership to download the directory as a concrete step for fostering diversity in the ranks of arbitrators and mediators.
- Lastly, DIAT will award Attorney Zenell Brown with the section’s 2023 Diversity and Inclusion Award at the ADR Section’s Annual Award Dinner on October 24, 2023 at the Saint John’s Resort in Plymouth. Lisa Timmons will have the honor of recognizing Brown’s focus on DEI initiatives and activities that have enriched the members of the SBM’s ADR Section and Michigan’s legal community through her roles as a consultant, court executive, Detroit Bar President, and chair and member of numerous DEI committees and initiatives.
CDRC Action Team Update
Want to give back to your community? The Sixteen Community Mediation Centers that comprise the Michigan Community Mediation Association (MCMA) and cover all 83 counties of Michigan are accepting new volunteers. The Centers work to make mediation and restorative practices available to ALL Michiganders by using volunteer mediators and facilitators to provide services on a sliding scale. Consider volunteering to not only help make your community more peaceful, but also to gain valuable mediation experience.
The Michigan Community Mediation Association has renewed their federal contract to provide agricultural mediation services statewide. Under this program, free mediation services are provided to growers anywhere in the state of Michigan in disputes with federal agencies. As with any type of mediation, participants have an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations to resolve their agency disputes. If resolution is not reached, they can continue to pursue their remedies at law.
Behavioral Mental Health Mediation Services have also been renewed statewide. Services are available for free to individuals receiving services from a Community Mental Health or Prepaid Inpatient Health Plan, or contracted provider. For questions or to request services recipients can call 1-844-3 MEDIATE or click here.
The Centers also provide resolution services via MI-Resolve. This online platform allows the Centers to provide a free, quick and easy means of resolving disputes that are typically filed as a small claims or landlord/tenant case in the district court and parenting time disputes.
To connect with a Center to volunteer or for services click here.
By Christine Gilman
Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan
678 Front Ave NW Ste 250
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Legislation and Court Procedures Action Team Update
The ADR Section through its Legislation and Court Procedures Action Team (“LCPAT” - formerly, “EPP”) is responsible for drafting proposals for legislation, court rules, and other initiatives to benefit Michigan ADR, and for offering comments and recommendations concerning any proposals which impact Michigan ADR. LCPAT continues to be active. Some of LCPAT’s recent work:
- Proposed amendment to MCR 3.602, Arbitration. LCPAT proposed an amendment to MCR 3.602 because the Michigan Uniform Arbitration Act and MCR 3.602 contain different time limits for seeking to vacate, modify, or correct an arbitration award. With one exception, the MUAA provides filing within 90 days of receiving notice of the award, and in contrast, MCR 3.602 provides two different deadlines, depending on whether there is already a pending civil action. The opinion from a recent case, Walker v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Ingham County Circuit Court No. 17-005454-CZ (February 3, 2022) demonstrates the confusion caused by these conflicting provisions, and Waller v BCBSM, No. 360392 (March 23, 2023), notes that the MUAA controls with respect to arbitrations after its effective date.
To solve this problem, LCPAT proposed the following language to amend MCR 3.206 (new language underlined):
(A) Applicability of Rule. Courts shall have all powers described in MCL 691.1681 et seq., or reasonably related thereto, for arbitrations governed by that statute. Unless otherwise provided by statute, an action or proceeding commenced on or after July 1, 2013, is governed by MCL 691.1681 et seq., and not this rule. The remainder of this rule applies to all other forms of arbitration, in the absence of contradictory provisions in the arbitration agreement or limitations imposed by statute, including MCL 691.1683(2).
The ADR Section Council approved this proposed amendment to MCR 3.602, the SBM approved submitting the Public Policy form with the proposal to SCAO, and the proposal has been submitted to SCAO.
- Mediator Fees During Pendency of a Court Proceeding. Michigan Court Rules, primarily MCR 2.410, MCR 2.411 (D), and MCR 3.216 (J) (hereinafter the “Rules”) afford mediators of court ordered mediations, the ability to apply to the court for, and obtain an order for payment of mediator fees during the pendency of the circuit court action (“Action”). Mediators are appointed pursuant to an Order for Mediation, typically set forth in a SCAO approved form MC 274 (hereinafter referred to as the “Form”). While the Rules specifically recognize the possibility of multiple mediation sessions during the course of an Action, the current Form only contemplates that a mediation will be initiated and completed within a short period of time specified by the court.
To support a mediator’s right to apply for and obtain compensation for conducting multiple mediation sessions, the ADR Section proposes three modifications to the Form.
- Adds provisions to allow the court to set deadlines for commencement of mediation to existing provision for setting deadlines for conclusion of the mediation.
- Incorporates the deadlines for payment of a mediator’s compensation provided in the Rules into the Order.
- Permits the court to enter an order to pay compensation to the mediator on notice and opportunity to object.
The proposed modified Form continues to address all required information presently included, with the addition of language specifically incorporating the Rules as the basis for the court to order payment of mediation fees and expenses. LCPAT is preparing a summary of this proposal and will submit this summary with the proposal to SCAO.
- Possible Changes to Michigan Requirements for Mediation Training. As reported in the February ADR Journal, LCPAT supported, and the ADR Council approved, creating a task force combining LCPAT and the Skills Action Team (“SAT), that will join with the Michigan Community Mediation Association, to explore creating a common basic mediation training before specialized mediation training is given. Any such changes would need to be approved by SCAO. This committee is working diligently, with plans to survey the CDRP centers and mediation trainers to gather their opinions about merging civil and domestic training and what ideas they might have to do so. Any proposal will be submitted to both SAT and LCPAT for review and comment, and once finalized, will be sent to ADR Section Council.
- Eldercaring Coordination Forms. Also previously reported, LCPAT formed a sub-committee, to coordinate with ADR, ELDRS, and Probate sections, to review and revise proposed Eldercaring Coordination court forms, hoping a coordinated effort will ultimately result in SCAO approval of the forms. This coordinated committee continues to work on these forms, and will submit them to LCPAT for further review and comment before they are finalized for submission to ADR Section Council.
- Follow-Up to Michigan Judicial Council Submission. LCPAT drafted, and ADR Section Council approved, a letter submitted to the MJC on April 25, 2023. This letter reminded the MJC that on January 31, 2022, the ADR Section submitted to the MJC some concerns and some ideas to remedy those concerns that fit well with the MJC Project Abstract of “implement[ing] a statewide strategic plan, creating a unified vision for the future, and making system-wide improvements that coordinate innovations from recent reforms.” Then went on to encourage that now that the MJC has put that abstract into action, creating the 2022-2023 Operational Plan, we will see that improvements in court-connected mediation are incorporated in the Operational Plan now and going forward. The letter restated the previous ideas/concerns and how they fit into the Operation Plan, namely: Create and maintain a statewide roster of court-approved mediators; Insist on adherence to MCR 4.211(B) and 3.216(E), limiting judicial involvement in mediator selection; Implement uniform adoption/use of consent judgment provisions of MCR 3.222 and 3.223, with appropriate training and oversight; Develop a data collection plan for court-connected mediation in Michigan courts; and Support change in Michigan courts to consistently use appropriate terminology for mediation under the Michigan Court Rules. In addition, Ed Pappas spoke at the MJC forum on May 11, 2023, referenced our letter and emphasized why ADR should be a part of the MJC’s discussions to achieve its stated values and goals. So far, we have not had any contact from MJC. The letter is posted on the ADR Section website, in the LCPAT folder.
LCPAT’s members care deeply about legislation and court procedures that affect ADR Section members and do not hesitate to take action when appropriate. Our meetings are usually quite interesting and often filled with lively discussion. Any section member who shares this interest would be most welcome to join our action team.