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Distinguished jurist in residence has busy speaking schedule

April 22, 2013

Justice Marilyn Kelly, Wayne State University Law School’s first distinguished jurist in residence, has been living up to her dynamic reputation since she joined the faculty in March.

She has a full speaking schedule this month, as she advocates for education and judicial reform.

Kelly, a 1971 Wayne Law alumna who served for 16 years on the Michigan Supreme Court and was chief justice from 2009-11, was prevented from running again for the high court by the state Constitution, which bars judicial candidates over the age of 70 from running for office.  She disagrees with the provision, and her energy and activism work to underscore her objection to the age rule.

 On April 4, Kelly was featured on a 30-minute interview with Henry Gornbein on the Bloomfield Community TV cable show “Practical Law.” She spoke about her work at Wayne Law and her experiences on the state Supreme Court.

She’ll be the keynote speaker on April 23 at the 19th annual Youth Law Conference in Troy.

“This is for high school students, and is sponsored by the Oakland County Bar Association,” Kelly said. “I’ll be speaking on my life and experiences on the bench.”

On April 26, Kelly will speak to state librarians in Lansing about the Michigan Legal Help Program, and how “they can help the impoverished get free legal assistance,” Kelly said.

As the state Supreme Court chief justice in 2010, Kelly established the Solutions on Self-Help Task Force to promote quality legal assistance for people of limited means who have to represent themselves in simple civic legal matters, such as divorces and evictions. The effort, she said, was needed to help close “the justice gap.” The task force created the Michigan Legal Help Program.

The program’s website, www.MichiganLegalHelp.org, offers accurate information and simple online forms for users who are representing themselves in legal matters.

On April 27, Kelly will speak to the State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly on another of her projects, the state’s Judicial Selection Task Force, and its efforts to improve the way judges are elected. The task force’s report advocates open disclosure of campaign spending for judicial elections to “expose special interest groups seeking to twist the supreme court’s jurisprudence for private gain” and also advocates eliminating “the role of the political parties in selecting supreme court candidates in favor of an open primary.” Kelly is co-chair of the task force and passionate about its goals.

The busy “jurist in residence” also has been a guest lecturer in Law School classrooms, including a recent visit teaching students in Distinguished Professor of Law John Dolan’s course on Property Law.