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2.16.17 – Luncheon Notes

SPOKES Notes written by Dan Durkee

We enjoyed a large group for today’s meeting which began in song with Kevin Paul leading us in a rousing rendition of ‘This Land Is Your Land’ followed by a thoughtful invocation by John Salan. President Michael Sytsma then recognized Rotarians Max Smith and Alan Abraham for their contributions toward Rotary relevance and reminded us of the upcoming Service Above Self Award dinner on March 22nd where we will be honoring Rick DeVos and encouraged everyone to purchase their tickets soon. Kris Palosaari introduced our guests and visiting Rotarians and Derek Aten reminded us of the Service Above Selfie contest which currently has 70 entries and will accept additional photos at either #sasgr or #rotarygr until February 28th. Prizes totaling $8,000 will be awarded to the charities of the winning entries. Paula Jastifer of our membership committee announced a special offer for our March 9th meeting where prospective members can attend at no cost and encouraged us to consider bringing a friend or associate along to the meeting. Angela Varga of the fellowship committee also announced their next Rotary After Hours event being hosted by Peter Albertini on March 2nd from 5:30 to 7:00 pm at Keller Williams offices.

Dr. Paul Farr introduced our speaker, the honorable Judge William Murphy who, together with Rotarians David Sawyer and Jane Markey, serve on the State’s Court of Appeals. Judge Murphy has served on the Court of Appeals since 1988 and opened his presentation by thanking Rotary for our numerous service projects throughout the area. He described the basic structure of federal and state courts which includes district, circuit, probate, and family courts. While federal judges are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, in Michigan state judges are elected for six to eight years terms. There are a total of 27 judges in the Michigan Court of Appeals which are based in Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Detroit. The court operates with a $22 million annual budget and employs 175 staff, including 50 research attorneys.

Judges sit in panels of three and review a wide variety of civil, criminal, contract, divorce, juvenile, and employment cases which have been tried or decided by lower courts. There is no retrial but briefs are presented by lawyers representing each party and then a written opinion is presented. As the final step for many cases, 98% of all appeals appear before the Court of Appeals, which reviews 6,000 cases each year. Judge Murphy closed with a recent statement made by the National Center for State Courts which reads “The Michigan Court of Appeals is as fine an example as we have found of business process discipline in the Judicial Branch…The Court has a culture of innovation and cooperation along with a high level of vision and competence in its judges and staff”.

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