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Inaugural Power Act Event

November 13, 2019 @ 12:00 pm

Power Act PowerPoint

The last two issues of the Michigan Bar Journal provide a perfect segue to a special opportunity coming your way on Wednesday, November 13, 2019, at noon. The program will be a “lunch and learn” format hosted in the Jury Assembly Room of the Gerald R. Ford Federal Building and Courthouse in Grand Rapids. Please mark your calendars now and plan to join us.

Inaugural Power Act Event. November 13, 2019.

The July 2019 issue of the Bar Journal focused on domestic violence awareness. And the focus of our November program will be on opportunities for pro bono representation in the context of domestic violence. We will not focus on the most obvious and direct legal consequences of domestic violence, such as handling of criminal charges or PPOs. Instead, we hope to highlight the less obvious, but just as important collateral issues that often arise for all parties affected by domestic violence.

What about the victim of domestic violence, for example, who needs help dealing with the immediate economic consequences of less household income, such as landlord/tenant litigation, maintenance of critical utility services or loss of health insurance provided through a spouse no longer in the home? Both the charged party removed from the home, and the complaining party still in the home may also have immediate collateral issues to address with their own employers, such as the need for unexpected leave. And even a temporary change in who is contributing to household income can have impact on the availability of various public financial benefits. Tax consequences can also be legally vexing. These issues potentially draw on the legal expertise of many lawyers who would not think of themselves as having pro bono service opportunities in the domestic violence arena.

The August 2019 issue focuses on American Indian Law. There are so many interesting and emerging issues in this arena, and there is no way our November program will even begin to identify them all. But in the Western District of Michigan, one area of frequent interaction between federal law and tribal law is domestic violence on reservation lands among Native American families. Given that reality, we are so pleased to welcome to the distinguished panel of experts the current Chief Judge of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Allie Greenleaf Maldonado. She is uniquely well positioned to highlight the issues and opportunities for service in the cross-currents of federal and tribal law affecting Native American families.

Last year, Congress adopted the POWER Act, which stands for “Pro Bono Work to Empower and Represent Act of 2018.” The Act directs the Chief Judge of every Federal District Court to address these issues. In our District, the Federal Bar Association has stepped forward to be the organizational arm for our program. The presenters on the inaugural panel will include: 1) Chief Judge Maldonado; 2) Elinor Jordan, (Senior Program Manager, Survivor Law Clinic, Michigan Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence); and 3) Charlie Campbell and Suzanne Katerberg (Legal Advocate and Crisis Advocate, respectively, YWCA – West Central Michigan). The program will be introduced and moderated by United States District Court Chief Judge Robert J. Jonker.

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. The presenters will raise your consciousness on these issues and stimulate your interest in 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 8, 2019.

The FBA would also like to offer this program to attendees who are not able to make it to the Grand Rapids Federal Courthouse. Space for this remote connection is limited. If you are interested in connecting remotely, please reach out to Susan MacGregor at FBA.Lunch.Remote.RSVP@Kitch.com. She will provide instructions for the remote connection.

We hope you can join us!

Matt Borgula
Western Michigan Chapter of the FBA


November 13, 2019
12:00 pm