the application

The deadline for applications has been extended to April 6th. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the May 15th training date may change. More information will follow.

The Western District of Michigan’s (WDMI) Pro se Prisoner Early Mediation Program (PEM) uses early mediation conferences to assist the parties in settling pro se prisoner civil rights cases brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. PEM has been very successful, resolving more than 50% of the cases that have gone to mediation. The WDMI has been using its Voluntary Facilitative Mediation panel mediators, but it now needs additional trained mediators to maximize PEM’s benefits. Accordingly, the Court has asked the FBA to assist in identifying and training additional PEM mediators. These additional mediators would be used solely for PEM.

Section 1983 allows state prisoners to file federal lawsuits for claims of alleged violations of constitutional rights by prison officials. These may include Eighth Amendment claims relating to prison conditions and medical care, First Amendment claims relating to speech and the free exercise of religion, and Fourth Amendment claims relating to searches and seizures. These cases often include affirmative defenses of failure to exhaust administrative remedies and qualified immunity. Section 1983 cases take up a significant part of the Court’s docket.

PEM mediation takes place in half-day sessions on Fridays at the Grand Rapids Federal Courthouse (and sometimes in Lansing). The parties and attorneys explain to the mediator the factual and legal issues in the case. Mediators meet jointly with all parties and/or separately and confidentially with each party and counsel to discuss the issues, with the goal of obtaining and presenting settlement offers or proposals. As in other mediations, all communications (written and oral) are strictly confidential. No party is required to participate in PEM. Accordingly, the parties who do participate do so by choice, increasing the likelihood of settlement.

Our FBA Chapter has a long history of working cooperatively with the Court. Please consider whether, as part of your pro bono commitment, you would be willing to serve the Court and litigants through this important program. If so, please complete the application and return it by March 20, 2020. For more information about PEM and the training process, contact U.S. Magistrate Judge Phillip J. Green at (616) 456-2309.

To be considered for certification as a pro bono PEM mediator, an applicant must meet the following minimum qualifications:

Submit the application along with any copies of certificates of completion of training to Melissa Rabidoux at

Brian Lennon

The United States Department of Justice, Office of the United States Trustee, seeks resumes from persons wishing to be considered for inclusion in a pool of trustees who may be appointed on a case-by-case basis to administer cases filed under the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (Subchapter V), which amended chapter 11 of title 11 of the United States Code (Bankruptcy Code).

View Notice at or download the PDF.


Due to increased interest in the substantive articles published in the Bankruptcy Section’s newsletter, as well as the frequency of the events pertaining to the Bankruptcy Section and the Bankruptcy Courts for the Eastern and Western District of Michigan, the Bankruptcy Section has decided to restructure the formatting of its newsletter into two components. The first will consist of a monthly email containing news and information regarding upcoming events in the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan. The second component will consist of a quarterly electronic publication, entitled the “Michigan Bankruptcy Journal”, which will consist of substantive legal articles, comments, and briefs. The Bankruptcy Section believes this new format will balance the need for more frequent notifications regarding upcoming events with the desire to maintain a quarterly publication that provides an avenue for Michigan bankruptcy practitioners and related professionals to publish written works and newer members of the bar to remain apprised of legal developments.

The Michigan Bankruptcy Journal will be published electronically and distributed by email on the fourth Friday in each of February (Winter), May (Spring), August (Summer), and November (Fall). Submissions from members of the bar and other insolvency professionals are welcome. There are no requirements as to length or format, and contributing authors are free to retain publishing rights. Submissions are due on the Monday immediately preceding the publication date. If you would like to submit an article, comment, or brief for publication, please contact Greg Guest at

We held the 30th Annual Bankruptcy Seminar at the Park Place Hotel in Traverse City from July 26-28, 2018. This was an excellent opportunity to learn from very experienced commercial and consumer insolvency professionals during a robust educational program that also includes 19 sitting and retired judges. The seminar also provided a number of opportunities for social interaction in a casual setting that foster the collegiality of our bankruptcy bar that we all enjoy and value. This year we have added the inaugural Trial Advocacy Skills Workshop, a full day, intensive workshop led by a faculty of distinguished judges designed to build your trial skills and confidence. This seminar continues to be one of the most competitively priced continuing legal educational opportunities in the Midwest. People particularly commented about how helpful the educational program sessions were for our practice of Bankruptcy Law in Western Michigan.