The United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan is pleased to announce the appointment of the Honorable Jane M. Beckering as United States District Judge for the Western District of Michigan. Judge Beckering will occupy the seat formerly held by Janet T. Neff, who now serves as a Senior District Judge.

President Biden nominated Judge Beckering on July 13, 2021. The United States Senate confirmed the nomination on December 17, 2021. Chief United States District Judge Robert J. Jonker swore Judge Beckering into office on December 24, 2021, making her the 23rd person—and only the third woman– to serve as District Judge since President Abraham Lincoln appointed the District’s first Judge in 1863.

Judge Beckering has served as a Judge of the Michigan Court of Appeals since September 2007 and as Chief Judge Pro Tempore of that Court since April 2018. Before that, she was a successful trial attorney for 17 years, first at a national law firm based in Chicago, and later as a founding partner of Buchanan & Beckering PLLC in Grand Rapids, focusing on cases involving medical malpractice, catastrophic personal injury, and wrongful death.

Judge Beckering has a longstanding record of service to the legal community. She has been a leader in the Grand Rapids Bar Association since joining in 1992. For over 25 years, she has contributed to the Institute of Continuing Legal Education, including service as Co-Consulting Editor, Michigan Civil Procedure, since 2012. For the past 20 years, she also has served on the Steering Committee for the Hillman Advocacy Program, a learn-by-doing trial advocacy program sponsored by the Western District of Michigan Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and held annually in the facilities of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

Chief Judge Robert J. Jonker welcomed the appointment of Judge Beckering, “We are indebted to the President and the United States Senate for sending us such a distinguished jurist. Judge Beckering knows, loves, and understands the trial process. She will serve with distinction as she has in every other undertaking throughout her career.”

Judge Beckering grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and followed in her grandfather’s and father’s footsteps by becoming a lawyer. She received her undergraduate degree, with distinction, from the University of Michigan and her law degree, cum laude, from the University of Wisconsin Law School. She is married and has three children.

Contact:
Melanie Vugteveen, Personnel Specialist
United States District Court, Western District of Michigan
110 Michigan Street, NW, Room 399
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503
Melanie_Vugteveen@miwd.uscourts.gov
616/456-2389

Please mark your calendars for a Zoom Videoconference on Friday, January 15 at noon featuring a panel discussion and Q&A with Chief Judge Robert Jonker and Judge Hala Jarbou for an update on the impact of COVID on court operations and litigation.

Another notice will go out after the holidays with the Zoom link to join the program.

We hope you can join us!

Rebecca Strauss
President
West Michigan Chapter of the Federal Bar Association


“A must-read for all lawyers and judges but also for any citizen seeking
to understand our state’s history and the interworkings and interrelationships
of the governments which serve us.”

Judge James Robert Redford, Michigan Court of Appeals

Order your copy today and receive
30% off when you use code FW20 at checkout!
(expires December 31, 2020)

A Lincoln Legacy: The History of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan by David Gardner Chardavoyne with Hugh W. Brenneman, Jr. provides the first and only comprehensive examination of the history of the United States federal courts in the Western District of Michigan. The federal courts were established by the U.S. Constitution to adjudicate disputes involving federal laws, disputes between litigants from different states involving state and federal laws, and to punish violations of criminal laws passed by Congress. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln signed legislation creating two federal districts in the state of Michigan: the Eastern and Western Districts-the latter of which is headquartered in Grand Rapids and which now encompasses the western half of the Lower Peninsula and all of the Upper Peninsula. With the rapid expansion of legislation passed by Congress, the increasing mobility of society, and the growth of interstate commerce, the federal courts have assumed an important and sometimes dominant role in major litigation today.

David Gardner Chardavoyne is a veteran Michigan lawyer and a legal educator who teaches as an adjunct professor at Wayne State University Law School. He is the author of The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (Wayne State University Press, 2012) and a frequent contributor to The Court Legacy, the journal of the Historical Society for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Hugh W. Brenneman, Jr.
is a retired United States Magistrate Judge for the U. S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, having served for thirty-five years on that court. He is presently the Court Historian. He is a graduate of Alma College and the University of Michigan Law School, and lives with his wife in West Michigan.

SAVE THE DATE!
December Speaker Series: Written/Oral Advocacy
Wednesday, December 9, 202012:00pm
(via Zoom)
Distinguished speakers:
U.S. District Judge Paul L. Maloney
Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Thomas C. Cameron
Kalamazoo County Assistant Prosecutor Heather S. Bergmann
Zoom Link

Meeting ID: 766 604 1963

Lawyers must do two things well: speak persuasively and write persuasively. Our panelists will share their perspective on how to achieve and further develop these essential skills.
This event is co-sponsored by:

We hope you can join us!

Rebecca Strauss
President
Western Michigan Chapter of the FBA

Pro Bono in a Pandemic: 2020 POWER Act (Downloadable PDF)

The Federal Bar Association will be hosting its first “lunch and learn” program of the season beginning at noon on Thursday, November 12, 2020. The Jury Assembly Room in the Gerald R. Ford Federal Building and Courthouse in Grand Rapids will be open and available for anyone who can safely attend in person. Because of ongoing covid-19 concerns, there will also be a zoom option available for anyone who wants to participate virtually.

The focus of this year’s program will, once again, be on pro bono opportunities in the domestic violence context. The pandemic has amplified the need for pro bono representation. And as we learned last year, you do not need to be a domestic relations lawyer to provide help. To the contrary, opportunities abound for anyone with a law license and a willingness to help. The program this year will emphasize the unique needs and opportunities during the covid-19 pandemic.

Congress adopted the POWER Act in 2018. Once again, our Federal Bar Association is serving as the organizational arm for this District’s program. Once again, Chief Judge Robert Jonker will moderate a panel of experts. This year, we expect:

1) Testimonials about real life pro bono assistance from both attorneys and clients. Kristen Wolfram, a top private practitioner who has frequently provided pro bono support to survivors, and Steven Grumm, the Director of Community Engagement for Legal Aid of Western Michigan will introduce these stories and offer their unique a well-informed perspective on opportunities for effective service.

2) Norika L. Kida Betti and Hank Fields of Michigan Indian Legal Services will present their perspective on need, existing services and pro bono opportunities in Indian Country. Did you know that Michigan is the only State in the Sixth Circuit with any federally recognized Indian Tribes, and that eleven of the twelve Tribes in Michigan have their home in the Western District of Michigan? This is a unique opportunity in our District.

3) Elinor Jordan of the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence will provide focused vignettes on service opportunities that would be of particular value during the pandemic. Her presentation will assist participants in learning new ways they can be of service.

The point of this program is not to endorse any substantive legal position on any of the complex issues involved. It is simply to highlight the pressing need for adequate representation of all impacted parties, and the corresponding opportunities for pro bono service.

If you would like to order a brown bag lunch for $10.00, please contact Melissa Rabidoux at Melissa_Rabidoux@fd.org by the close of business on Friday, November 6, 2020.

If you would like to attend this program virtually by Zoom, please click on the ZOOM REGISTRATION link provided.

We hope you can join us!

Rebecca Strauss
President
Western Michigan Chapter of the FBA

  VERDICT DATE CASE NAME/TYPE JUDGE ATTORNEYS VERDICT
1 2/1/19
1:18-cr-201
USA v Pollard (firearms)
Neff John Beason, Def
John Roth, USA
Guilty – All counts
2 01/09/19 1:17-cr-191
USA v McKinney
(narcotics/firearms)
Quist James Jenkins, Def/CJA
Mark Courtade, USA
Guilty – All counts
3 03/01/19 1:17-cv-538
Lynn Mayer’s Great Lakes Glads v BTR of Orland, Inc.
(Removal – Torts to Land)
Maloney James Shinar, Plaintiff
Timothy S. Groustra, Defendant
For Plaintiff
4 04/24/19 1:15-cv-70
Colvin v Heyns, et al
(prisoner civil rights)
Carmody Pro Se / Michael Wiese-Pro Bono
Brandon Waddell
For Defendants
5 05/01/19 2:17-cr-31
USA v Blomquist
(marijuana – sell/distribute/possess)
Maloney Elizabeth LaCosse, FPD
Maarten Vermaat, USA
Guilty – All counts
6 05/07/19 1:10-cv-1075
Neal v Ellis, et al
(prisoner civil rights)
Quist Pro Se
Garet Koger, Defendants
For Defendant
7 05/14/19 1:18-cr-51
USA v Urbina
(sex trafficking of minor; narcotics)
Neff Pro Se / Geoffrey Upshaw-standby counsel
Davin Reust/Joel Fauson/Alexis Sanford, USA
Guilty – Counts 1ss-11ss
8 05/24/19 1:18-cr-249
USA v Farmer
(conspiracy to distribute controlled substance)
Jonker Michael Adams, Plaintiff
Justin Presant/Jonathan Roth, USA
Guilty
9 05/29/19 1:18-cr-181
USA v Pardon
(fraud/filing false tax return)
Maloney Matthew Borgula, Plaintiff
Raymond Beckering, USA
Not Guilty

10 05/31/19 2:15-cv-156
Jones v Olson, et al.
(prisoner civil rights)
Maloney Pro se
Austin Raines, Defendants
For Defendants
11 06/05/19 1:18-cr-126 / 1:18-cr-130 (held jointly)
USA v Collard
(child pornography)
Maloney Lawrence Nolan/Gary Villas, Defendant
Alexis Sanford/Daniel McGraw/Jennifer Murnahan, USA
Guilty – All counts
12 06/19/19 2:18-cr-50
USA v Sagataw
(domestic assault/habitual)
Quist Mark Dobias, Defendant
Hannah Bobee, USA
Not Guilty
13 07/01/19 1:18-cr-226
USA v Xi
(wire fraud)
Jonker Joseph Coburn/Ronald Safer, Defendant
Hagen Frank/Jennifer Murnahan/Clay Stiffler, US
Mistrial/Dismissal
14 07/11/19 2:16-cv-205
Hansen v Aper
(civil rights/excessive police force)
Quist Kenneth Finegood, Plaintiff
Mark Donnelly/John Fedynsky, Defendant
For Defendant
15 07/19/19 2:16-cv-91
Moore v Perttu, et al.
(prisoner civil rights)
Vermaat Solomon Radner/Madeline Sinkovich, Plaintiff
Adam deBear, Defendants
For Plaintiff (as to 1 defendant only); $1.00 nominal; $5,000 puntitive)
16 08/07/19 1:19-cr-141
USA v Spencer
(narcotics/controlled substance possession)
Maloney Matt Borgula, Defendant
Rene Shekmer, USA
Not Guilty
17 08/13/19 1:19-cr-108
USA v Morton
(possession heroin with intent to distribute)
Maloney Jasna Tosic, Defendant
Hagan Frank, Sally Berens, Stephen Baker, Theodore Greeley, USA
Guilty
18 08/21/19 2:16-cv-138
Stapleton v Pelkola, et al
(prisoner civil rights)
Vermaat Judy Bregman/Bradford Springer, Plaintiff
Jennifer Foster/Michael Dean, Defendant
For Defendants
19 08/23/19 1:18-cr-166
USA v Trevino
(Marijuana-conspiracy, possess, distribute)
Maloney Stuart Friedman, Defendant
Joel Fauson/Daniel McGraw, USA
Guilty (Counts 1s-10s)
20 09/06/19 2:16-cv-176
Rohl v Immel, et al
(prisoner civil rights)
Vermaat Trevor Garrison, Plaintiff
Austin Raines, Defendants
For Defendants

21 09/11/19 1:14-cv-923
Carter v Heynes, et al.
(prisoner civil rights)
Kent Pro se Plaintiff
Michael Dean, Defendants
For Defendants
22 09/19/19 1:17-cv-479
Richardson v Masteller
(Bivens Act)
Neff Dan Doyle/Sterlin Mesadieu, Plaintiff
Carolyn Almassian/Nicole Mazzocco, Defendant
For Defendant/No Cause
23 10/03/19 1:17-cv-1101
Kraft, et al. v State Farm Fire & Casualty
(Diversity-Breach of Contract)
Maloney Ann-Marie Earls/Joseph Milanowski, Plaintiffs
Brian Gallagher/Devin Gatfield Day, Defendant
For Defendant
24 10/03/19 1:18-cvv-489
Inman v Mid-States Bolt & Screw Co.
(civil rights-employment discrimination)
Jonker Crystal Bultje/Sarah Howard/Rhett Pinsky, Plaintiff
Allan Rubin/Blaine Veldhuis/Kristyn Mattern/Linda Ryan, Defendant
For Defendant
25 10/19/19 1:19-cr-137
USA v Simpson
(controlled substance-possess with intent; felon in possession of firearm)
Jonker Scott Graham/Claire Freeman, Defendant
Erin Lane, Stephen Baker, Tim VerHey, USA
Guilty – All counts
26 10/17/19 1:19-cr-126
USA v Wilson
(controlled substance-possess with intent; felon in possession of firearm)
Maloney Lucas Dillon, Sr., Defendant
Daniel McGraw/Jonathan Roth, USA
Guilty – All counts
27 10/23/19 1:19-cr-57
USA v Nuyen
(methamphetamine-possess with intent; felon in possession of firearm
Jonker Patrick O’Keefe, Defendant
Alexis Sanford/Kristin Pinkston, USA
Guilty – All counts
28 11/05/19 1:18-cr-167
USA v Brown, Cary, Nix, Kolarich
(cocaine/crack-conspiracy, possess with intent to distribute)
Maloney Lucas Dillon, Sr., John Karafa, Lawrence Phelan, Mark Dobias, Defendants
Katie Zell/Daniel McGraw, USA
Guilty – All counts
29 11/14/19 1:19-cr-164
USA v Kiogima
(abusive sexual contact without victim’s permission)
Neff Helen Nieuwenhuis, Defendant
Sean Lewis/Patrick Castle, USA
Not Guilty-Ct. 1
Guilty – Ct. 2
30 11/21/19 1:18-cr-250
USA v Braxton, Summers, Cannon, Mason
(methamphetamine-conspiracy to distribute and possess)
Jonker Sarah Howard, Brian Lennon/Madelaine Lane, John Beason, Thomas Douglas, Defendants Guilty – All counts
31 11/22/19 1:17-cv-558
Flannery v Packer’s Canning Co., Inc.
(Diversity-Personal Injury)
Neff Kyle Bredell/John Bredell, Plaintiff
Matthew Tomkins/Kerr Moyer, Defendant
For Plaintiff
$220,145.50
32 12/11/19 2:19-cr-17
USA v Carrick
(Maritime-Robbery/Assault with Intent)
Neff Elizabeth LaCosse, Defendant
Hannah Bobee, USA
Not Guilty
33 12/10/19 1:19-cr-117
USA v Inman
(attempted extortion, solicitation of bribe, false statement to FBI)
Jonker Christopher Cooke, Defendant
Christopher O’Conner/Ronald Stella, USA
Mistrial – Cts. 1-2
Not Guilty – Ct. 3

You are cordially invited to attend the
West Michigan Chapter of the Federal Bar Association

Annual Meeting

October 1, 2020, – 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
at the Quail Ridge Golf Course
8375 36th St. SE, Ada, Michigan

RSVP by September 28, 2020

If you have any questions, please contact Melissa Rabidoux at
Melissa_rabidoux@fd.org or 616-742-7420.

Please join us for the 2020 Annual Meeting for the West Michigan Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. This year’s event will be held on October 1st, 2020 at the Quail Ridge Golf Course from 3 to 6 PM.

With the release of “A Lincoln Legacy – The History of the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan,” written by David G. Chardavoyne with the Honorable Hugh W. Brenneman, Jr., the much-anticipated history of our Court, a luncheon event (as we have done in the past) simply would not do. Instead, we have a new Annual Meeting format planned, which will allow us to celebrate the book release, acknowledge the authors and others whose hard work and long hours made the book possible, offer some timely (but limited) programming, and conduct the business required by our bylaws. Drinks and refreshments will follow all of this.

We will hold the Annual Meeting and the Historical Society Annual Meeting in a large tent where we can safely enjoy each other’s company. This event will be a business casual event. If you plan to join us in person, please bring your mask. If you would prefer to attend virtually, please join our live stream over Zoom.

Please RSVP by Monday, September 28th. In-person attendance is limited and may sell out. We look forward to seeing you on Thursday, October 1, 2020 at Quail Ridge Golf Course from 3 to 6 PM.

To register for the event, please click on this LINK or you can print your INVITATION and mail it in. A copy of A Lincoln Legacy – The History of the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan will be included with your registration.

We hope you can join us!

Brian Lennon
President
Western Michigan Chapter of the FBA

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 Melissa_Rabidoux@fd.org

Brian Lennon
President

The Judges of the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan announce the upcoming retirement of their friend and colleague, Magistrate Judge Timothy P. Greeley. Judge Greeley will retire in March of 2019. When he retires, Judge Greeley will have served the Court as Magistrate Judge in Marquette for 31 years.