Legal Resource Center holds fundraiser; presents Service Award to Judge Shelton

By Frank Weir

Legal News

There is no better time than now to help in pro per litigants.

That was the message from Washtenaw County Trial Court Chief Judge Donald Shelton who received the Legal Resource Center's Service Award last week.

The award presentation was a part of the center's Sixth Annual Fundraiser for the Washtenaw County-Eastern Michigan University Legal Resource Center held at EMU's President's House.

Nancy Caine Harbour, the EMU Paralegal Studies Program coordinator made the presentation after remarks by Paul Sher, president of the LRC's board of directors.

Morell Boone, dean of the EMU College of Technology also addressed the group. Keynote speaker was Gloria Hage, general counsel for EMU.

In accepting the award, Judge Shelton said, "The center needs and deserves every bit of support that we can give it.

"The community needs this center. It fulfills an important function at Eastern but it also is very important to our community.

"It's time for some reality checks. One in five adults are out of work in this state. They can't find a job and many are driven by that into poverty. I've lived in this county a long time and we were immune from the state's economic problems for much of our history. The county did all right no matter what happened in housing or unemployment but that is no longer true.

"Reality is here and the people affected by that are the people served by this center."

Shelton noted that in 2009, one of the parties in 48.8 percent of family law cases was not represented. In 93 percent of personal protection orders, one party was unrepresented.

"Between 2007 and 2009, for orders and motions seeking to modify child support, the percentage of unrepresented parties increased by just under 30 percent. This is a direct reflection of what is going on in our community.

"People find themselves faced with the monolith that is the court system to them. They don't see any way through it or around it. And due to their economic circumstances, they don't think they can afford a lawyer.

"That's why the center is so important to the process."

Published: Thu, Sep 30, 2010

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