Issue 14 | April - June 2021 | Q3
CVLAP in the News
Read here about the appellate work of CVLAP's very own Systemic Advocacy Attorney, Nicole Shannon, who assisted her client in terminating his unnecessary guardianship. You can read the Michigan Court of Appeals opinion here. You'll also find latest update on guardianship reform legislation in our elder justice update below.
Staff Updates
New Staff
Nate Frischkorn - Marquette (DV)
Shacara Burrel - Battle Creek (Elder)

Michael Kiehne - Monroe (DV)
Dave Ballard - Traverse City (Elder/DV)
Jennifer Sheldon - Gaylord (Elder/DV)

We are so happy Nate, Shacara, Michael, Dave, and Jennifer have joined the CVLAP team!
Departing Staff
Kristina Martin - Lansing (Elder)
Patricia Mandernach - Kalamazoo (DV)

Jessica Topor - Monroe (DV)

Many thanks to Kristina, Jessica and Patricia for their excellent work with CVLAP!
Job Postings
CVLAP-DV & Elder 
CVLAP currently has open Staff Attorney positions in the following offices: Lansing (elder) and Kalamazoo (DV).  For more information or to share our postings with others go to MAP's application here.
Quarter In Review 
In the 3rd quarter of 2021 (April - June) CVLAP attorneys assisted 1,079 survivors of domestic violence and/or elder abuse, neglect or exploitation.  During this quarter we closed a total of 351 cases.  Of the closed cases, we provided extended services to 154 clients.  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
 Kendall Dingwall, CVLAP-DV Attorney in the Muskegon office of Legal Aid of Western Michigan, assisted a client to divorce her abusive husband and protect her children. Client's husband was charged with felonious assault, aggravated DV, and resisting arrest after a violent incident where he put a loaded gun in the client's mouth in front of their two children. Kendall obtained a divorce for her client and CPS placed the children with Kendall's client, limiting dad's parenting time to video calls. Kendall ultimately facilitated her client's move nearer to family in Ohio to protect herself and her children. In approving the change of domicile, the judge recommended that Kendall's client move far away from her former husband and even provided the court recording of the client's testimony so that she would not have to repeatedly tell her story in the upcoming criminal and neglect/abuse cases. 
 Natalie Cherry, CVLAP-Elder Attorney in the Oakland County office of Lakeshore Legal Aid assisted a client in terminating a temporary guardianship she was subjected to without notice or factual basis. The client had requested more hours of in-home care services to address her significant health challenges, but instead of receiving more services, she received a court order from her new temporary guardian. Natalie's client had not been hospitalized, no record of diagnosed cognitive impairment, and managed her finances and payed her bills competently. The basis of the temporary guardianship was one physician's statement, made after just one telehealth appointment, that the client's various health issues made her incapable of consenting to supportive services. Natalie challenged the guardianship petition on behalf of the client, invited an assistant attorney general to attend the hearing, and ultimately succeeded in terminating her client's inappropriate temporary guardianship. 
Elder Justice Update
By Alison Hirschel
Earlier this year, 39 bills were introduced in the Michigan legislature to reform the voting process.  Four of those bills, Senate bills 273, 285, 303, and 310, would create additional hardships for older people and people with disabilities.
  • SB 273 requires drop boxes to be removed unless they are approved by the Secretary of State and the applicable board of county canvassers. This bill raises concern because the 1100 current drop boxes are particularly helpful for people with mobility challenges who can use them without exiting their vehicle.
  • SB 285 requires an applicant for an absentee ballot to attach a photocopy of his or her identification or present an original or copy of identification to the clerk of the city or township when applying for an absentee ballot. If the applicant is unable to do so, the clerk is required to issue an applicant a provisional absentee ballot. Individuals who face challenges voting in person will likely also face challenges obtaining a photocopy or presenting their identification to the clerk, thus creating barriers to their votes being counted.
  • SB 303 requires a voter to be issued a provisional ballot if he or she arrives at their polling place without ID. This bill also seeks to prohibit the use of a sworn affidavit when a voter does not have ID. Currently, voters who forgets their ID are merely required to sign affidavits stating that they are not in possession of photo identification. Their ballot is still included with all the others and counted on election day. This bill may pose a greater challenge for older adults who have given up their license and not replaced it with the state-issued ID or those who were born before recording births was standard procedure.
  • SB 310 prohibits the Secretary of State from sending or providing an absentee voter ballot application to an elector unless the elector requests it. This bill also includes prohibiting an absentee voter ballot application or a direct link to an absentee voter ballot application on the Department of State’s website. ​​This measure would impose an additional hardship by forcing older adults and people with disabilities to gain access to a computer and printer to request an absentee ballot.  Many individuals may not be aware they are required to request the absentee ballot since they received them automatically in the past and, because the Secretary of State would be prohibited from including a direct link to the ballot application, some older people and people with disabilities may have trouble locating the application. Additionally, those who are unable to gain access to a computer may need to arrange for transportation to apply in person with the clerk for an absentee ballot. This is especially problematic considering about 32% of the elderly and disabled need specialized assistance or equipment to travel outside the home.
While bill sponsors suggest these bill were introduced to increase voter security and reduce voter fraud, multiple studies have rejected the notion that widespread voter fraud has been prevalent in recent elections. A study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in April 2020 discussed found that voter fraud in the United States is extremely rare. And last month, a Michigan Senate Oversight Committee released a 35 page report that “found no evidence of widespread or systemic fraud” in the November, 2020 election.  MEJI and other aging and disability rights organizations have therefore opposed these bills.
Domestic Violence Update
By Rebecca Shiemke
Nothing new to report this quarter! 
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
Dave Ballard - Supervising Attorney
Ruby Robinson - Supervising Attorney
Stephanie Saad - Staff Attorney
Brooke Wilsner - Staff Attorney

Brittany Tucker - Staff Attorney
Linda Kellum - Staff Attorney
Cat Villanueva - Staff Attorney
Sharron Sanders - Staff Attorney
Marie Nelson - Staff Attorney
Sokainah Mahmutovic - Staff Attorney
Ana Kolosova - Staff Attorney
Jamila Odeh - Staff Attorney
Kendall Dingwall - Staff Attorney
Lauren Ykimoff - Staff Attorney
Jessica Rundle - Staff Attorney
Chloe Elm - Law Graduate
Michael Kiehne - Staff Attorney
Nathan Frischkorn - Law Graduate
Jennifer Sheldon - Staff Attorney
Elder Justice Initiative
Alison  Hirschel - Consulting Attorney
Emily Miller - Managing Attorney
Kathleen Allen - Supervising Attorney
Dave Ballard - Supervising Attorney
Nicole Shannon - Systemic Advocacy
Roger West - Staff Attorney
Mireille Phillips - Staff Attorney
Natalie Cherry - Staff Attorney
Brittany  Paulk - Staff Attorney
Laura Kubit - Staff Attorney
Amanda Eicher - Staff Attorney

Toi Dennis - Staff Attorney 
Jonathan Tabor - Staff Attorney
Shacara Burrel - Law Graduate
Jennifer Sheldon - 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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