Issue 16 | October - December 2021 | Q1
         January - March 2022 | Q2

CVLAPer Sylvia Esparza-Casciano welcomed baby Gia earlier this year!
Staff Updates
New Staff
Shantell Belcher (Warren-DV)
Lauren McNabb (Grand Rapids-DV)

We are so happy Shantell and Lauren have joined the CVLAP team!
Departing Staff
Amanda Eicher (Monroe-Elder)
Linda Kellum (Battle Creek-DV)
Sharron Sanders (Detroit-DV)
Jonathan Tabor (Holland-Elder)
Lauren Ykimoff (Jackson-DV)

Many thanks to Amanda, Linda, Sharron, Jonathan, & Lauren for their excellent work with CVLAP!
Transitioning Staff
Shacara Burrel (from Battle Creek-Elder to Kalamazoo-DV)
Kendall Dingwall (from Muskegon-DV to Supervising Attorney Northern Michigan)
Job Postings
CVLAP-DV & Elder 
CVLAP currently has open Staff Attorney positions in the following offices: 
Battle Creek (elder), Holland (elder), Lansing (elder), Monroe (elder), Mt. Clemens (elder), Battle Creek (DV), Detroit (DV), Jackson (DV), and Muskegon (DV).  
For more information or to share our postings, please visit the MAP job page here.
Quarter In Review 
In the 1st quarter of 2022 (October - December) CVLAP attorneys assisted 1,003 survivors of domestic violence and/or elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. 
In the 2nd quarter of 2022 (January - March) CVLAP attorneys assisted 917 survivors of domestic violence and/or elder abuse, neglect or exploitation.
  We are incredibly proud of our amazing staff attorneys across the state and want to share some of the good stories (see below) that exemplify the amazing and much needed advocacy that makes this project so vital.
Excellence in Advocacy
 Jamila Odeh, CVLAP-DV Attorney in the Saginaw office of Legal Services of Eastern Michigan, represented a domestic violence survivor at both the trial court and appellate level with property issues in her divorce.  In an unpublished decision issued on May 12, 2022, the COA found in FAVOR of Jamila's client and determined that the parties' home was marital property and that opposing party was not entitled to spousal support. 
The opposing party argued that because he inherited the home through his father's trust, it was his separate property.  However, the COA agreed with the trial court that the home had become marital property over the course of the marriage.  As such, the home was subject to division in the parties' divorce.
The opposing party also challenged the trial court's decision to impute his income for spousal support purposes.  The COA again upheld the trial court's decision to impute income and therefore denied his request for spousal support.  

Click here to read the full opinion!
 Eryka Symington, CVLAP-Elder Attorney in the Escanaba office Legal Services of Northern Michigan, represented an older resident whose identity was stolen. Several accounts were opened in the client's name without her knowledge or consent. Eryka assisted the client in reporting the identity theft to the police, FTC, and major credit bureaus, as well as the credit and loan companies themselves. 
Eryka further assisted client resolve issues with a loan that was fraudulently taken out with  After Eryka notified the lender of the identity theft, agreed to buy back the debt from the third-party creditor and absolve client from any and all liability related to the fraudulent loan.

Elder Justice Update
By Alison Hirschel
Attorney General's Elder Abuse Task Force

The Elder Abuse Task Force continues to work on reforming adult guardianship and conservatorship under the Estates and Protected Individuals Code.  The Task force started in March 2019. The bill package (HB 4847-4850) includes the following highlights:

-A right to counsel of choice, even after a finding of incapacity.
-Improved medical reports
-The elimination of "traffic ticket" style hearings, with opportunities for parties to adequately prepare for hearings
-Suitability factors that a court must take into account before skipping over a family member/person with priority in favor of a corporate guardian
-Clear standards for emergency guardianships
-Clear standards for when a conservatorship must be sought to ensure financial reporting
-Reforming the role of the guardian ad litem to ensure uniform, high quality, information is given to every probate judge
-Protections to prevent the removal of adults from their homes (and the disposal of their treasured possessions)
-And so much more!

The Task Force is having final discussions with the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. There is likely one more round of testimony before the full House votes on the legislation. After that, the Senate will take up the bills.
Domestic Violence Update
By Rebecca Shiemke
Presumption of Equal Parenting Time Bills
House Bills 5459 and 5460, which would amend the child custody act to create a presumption that it is in the best interests of a child to award equal or approximately equal parenting time to each parent, is in committee.  If enacted, these bills would dramatically alter the way that custody disputes are resolved by imposing a one-size-fits-all approach on all Michigan families, as opposed to the current requirement that judges consider the best interests of each individual child. 

Bill to Protect Victims of Economic Abuse
House Bill 5256 is in committee.  This bill would amend the occupational code, MCL 339.901, by adding a new section addressing practices of debt collection agencies that would increase protections to all debtors as well as victims of economic abuse.  If enacted, this bill would reduce the harmful effects of economic abuse, which is a common tactic used by abusers against their intimate partners. 
Training & Webinar Opportunities
Below are links (click on the pictures) to various organizations that provide training opportunities on issues that affect survivors of domestic violence and elder, abuse, neglect and exploitation. 
Domestic Violence Initiative
Rebecca Shiemke - Consulting Attorney
Emily Miller - Managing Attorney
Kathleen Allen - Supervising Attorney
Kendall Dingwall - Supervising Attorney
Ruby Robinson - Supervising Attorney
Shantell Belcher - Staff Attorney
Shacara Burrel - Law Graduate
Sylvia Esparza-Casciano - Staff Attorney
Nathan Frischkorn - Staff Attorney
Michael Kiehne - Staff Attorney
Ana Kolosova - Staff Attorney
Meredith Luneack - Staff Attorney
Sokainah Mahmutovic - Staff Attorney
Lauren McNabb - Staff Attorney
Jamila Odeh - Staff Attorney
Jessica Rundle - Staff Attorney
Stephanie Saad - Staff Attorney
Jennifer Sheldon - Staff Attorney

Cat Villanueva - Staff Attorney
Elder Justice Initiative
Alison  Hirschel - Consulting Attorney
Emily Miller - Managing Attorney
Kathleen Allen - Supervising Attorney
Kendall Dingwall - Supervising Attorney
Nicole Shannon - Systemic Advocacy
Natalie Cherry - Staff Attorney
Toi Dennis - Staff Attorney 
Laura Kubit - Staff Attorney
Brittany  Paulk - Staff Attorney
Jennifer Sheldon - Staff Attorney
Eryka Symington - Staff Attorney

Roger West - Staff Attorney
The Crime Victims Legal Assistance Project is funded by a Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (“VOCA”) grant from the Michigan Crime Victims Services Commission of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to the Michigan Advocacy Program.
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Michigan Advocacy Program / CVLAP Elder + DV · P.O. Box 8294 · Ann Arbor, MI 48107 · USA

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