FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2022
Governor Whitmer Makes Appointments to the Bench
LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the appointments of Christopher M. Blount and Susan Dabaja to the 3rd Circuit Court of Wayne County, Matthew P. Sabaugh to the 16th Circuit Court of Macomb County, Raeigen L. Evans to the 36th District Court of the City of Detroit, and Angela T. Ross to the 61st District Court of the City of Grand Rapids.
“I am so pleased to appoint these five Michiganders to the courts in Wayne, Macomb, and Grand Rapids,” said Governor Whitmer. “They all bring decades of legal experience and a wide range of expertise to the bench, and I know they will uphold the rule of law and put Michiganders first.”
3rd Circuit Court of Wayne County
Christopher M. Blount currently serves as a judge with the 36th District Court in Detroit. As a judge, he is cross designated for the district and circuit court and is one of the presiding judges over the Street Outreach Court. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Blount was a private practice attorney specializing in probate and misdemeanor and felony defense matters. He also served as a deputy defender with the State Defender Office focused on felony defense and criminal trial practice.
Judge Blount earned his Juris Doctor degree from Wayne State University Law School. He also holds a Bachelor of Fine Art in Graphic Design and a Master of Urban Planning from Wayne State University. He is a member of the executive board for the Wayne State University Law School Black Law Alumni Council and the Association of Black Judges of Michigan. Additionally, Judge Blount serves as an adjunct professor of criminal justice at Wayne County Community College and as a member of the Michigan State Court Administrator Office Judicial Usability Workgroup. Christopher is a life-long resident of Detroit.
“It is with humility and thanks that I accept this appointment from Governor Whitmer to serve the citizens of Wayne County,” said Judge Blount. “I look forward to presiding over an accessible and transparent courtroom that treats all citizens equitably and with respect.”
This appointment was made to fill a partial term, which will commence on April 18, 2022 and expire at twelve o’clock noon on January 1, 2023, following the appointment of Judge Noah Hood to the Michigan Court of Appeals. If Judge Blount wishes to serve the remainder of Judge Hood’s term, expiring January 1, 2027, he would be required to run for reelection in November of 2022.
Susan Dabaja is currently a solo practitioner and owner of the Law Office of Susan A. Dabaja, P.C., where she has zealously represented clients for the last 17 years. In her practice, she specializes in family, civil, real estate, contracts, immigration, landlord-tenant, criminal, and bankruptcy law. Dabaja offers pro bono services for single and abused mothers, nonprofit institutions, and juveniles. Dabaja also serves as a mediator and as an appointed guardian ad litem for children.
Dabaja holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, graduating magna cum laude, and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She previously served as the president of the Dearborn City Council for 8 years and is the current co-chair of the Dearborn Education Foundation. Dabaja is an appointee serving on the Michigan Commission of Middle Eastern American Affairs and she also serves as chair of the Local Community Stabilization Authority. Susan lives in Dearborn with her husband, Majid, and their three children.
“I am humbled and grateful to Governor Whitmer for entrusting me with this great responsibility,” said Dabaja. “I am confident that everything I’ve gained from my personal and professional lives — the balance, the perspective, the work ethic, the empathy, the passion, the humility, the strength of character — has prepared me for this position. As judge, I promise to remain dedicated to ensuring equity in our courts with equal access to justice for all regardless of their background. I look forward to serving the citizens of Wayne County and the State of Michigan.”
This appointment was made to fill a partial term, which will commence on April 18, 2022 and expire at twelve o’clock noon on January 1, 2023, following the retirement of Judge Bruce Morrow effective January 31, 2022. If Ms. Dabaja wishes to seek a full six-year term, she would be required to run for reelection in November of 2022.
16th Circuit Court of Macomb County
Matthew P. Sabaugh currently serves as a judge with the 37th District Court of Warren and Center Line. He also serves as the chief judge pro tem, the presiding judge of the Treatment Court, and he started Macomb County’s first eviction diversion program. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Sabaugh was an assistant prosecutor for Macomb County where he was assigned to the circuit court, district court, and consumer protection division. He successfully prosecuted cases from misdemeanors to capital felony cases in circuit court. He attended law school at night while working as a legislative assistant to then State Representative Paul Wojno.
Judge Sabaugh earned his Juris Doctor degree and Bachelor of Science in Resource Development from Michigan State University. He is a current member of the Warren Kiwanis Club and Macomb Homeless Coalition. Additionally, Judge Sabaugh serves as an adjunct professor for the paralegal program at Macomb County Community College. Matthew lives in Warren with his wife, Rachel and their three children.
“I am honored to accept this appointment from Governor Whitmer,” said Sabaugh. “I promise to provide fair, efficient, and accessible justice to all the citizens of Macomb County. I will continue to be a judge who listens respectfully to all sides in the courtroom. Everyone who appears before me can be assured that I will decide their case without fear or favor and according to the law.”
This appointment was made to fill a partial term, which will commence on April 13, 2022 and expire at twelve o’clock noon on January 1, 2023, following the retirement of Judge Carl Marlinga effective February 25, 2022. If Judge Sabaugh wishes to seek a full six-year term, he would be required to run for reelection in November of 2022.
36th District Court of the City of Detroit
Raeigen L. Evans currently serves as a referee with the 3rd Circuit Court in the Family Division Juvenile Section. She has held this role since 2011 presiding over juvenile delinquency matters ranging from truancy to armed robbery. She also has experience presiding over child abuse and neglect bench trials. Evans previously worked as an assistant prosecutor in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office where she tried numerous felony bench and jury trials and prosecuted cases ranging from assault to homicide.
Evans received her Juris Doctor degree and Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Wayne State University. She is a member of the Black Women Lawyers Association of Michigan and serves on the Executive Board for the Renaissance Head Start Organization. Raeigen lives in Detroit with her husband, Paul, and their children.
“I want to thank Governor Whitmer for this opportunity to serve the city of Detroit in this capacity,” said Evans. “It is truly an honor to be appointed judge in the city where I was raised and am raising my children. I promise to serve my fellow citizens of Detroit with a heart for all people, respect, and fairness.”
This appointment was made to fill a partial term, which will commence on April 18, 2022 and expire at twelve o’clock noon on January 1, 2023, following appointment of Judge Kristina Robinson Garrett to the Michigan Court of Appeals. If Ms. Evans wishes to seek a full six-year term, she would be required to run for reelection in November of 2022.
61st District Court of the City of Grand Rapids
Angela T. Ross currently serves as the director of enforcement for the City of Grand Rapids City Attorney’s Office. In this role, she manages the criminal enforcement division and prosecutes criminal ordinance violations and housing, zoning, and tax code violations. Prior to assuming her current role in 2017, Ross was a solo practitioner practicing in family, criminal, and business law. She has also worked as a weekend referee in the Kent County Juvenile Detention Center. Ross previously worked as an associate with Smith, Haughey, Rice & Roegge, as an adjunct professor at Grand Valley State University, and as an assistant federal public defender.
Ross earned her Juris Doctor degree from DePaul University College of Law and Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Michigan. She is the current president of the Floyd Skinner Bar Association, a trustee with the Grand Rapids Bar Association, and co-chair of the Grand Rapids Bar Minority Clerkship Committee. Angela lives in Grand Rapids with her husband, Darel, and their three children–Erykah, Darel III, and Jayden.
“Grand Rapids has helped shape the person I am today,” said Ross. “I am truly honored to have been appointed to the 61st District Court by Governor Whitmer. It is humbling to be able to serve the city I have grown up in, the people I cherish, and the justice system I continuously strive to better.”
This appointment was made to fill a partial term, which will commence on April 18, 2022 and expire at twelve o’clock noon on January 1, 2023, following the retirement of Judge David J. Buter effective April 1, 2022. If Ms. Ross wishes to serve the remainder of Judge Buter’s term, expiring January 1, 2027, she would be required to run for reelection in November of 2022.
Judicial appointments are not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.
– DNR News –
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2022
Gov. Whitmer Celebrates Building Michigan Together Plan’s Record Investment in State Parks, Funding to Build New State Park in Flint
Bipartisan bill will continue progress on roads, water, high-speed internet, housing, and make single largest investment in state parks in Michigan history
FLINT, Mich. – After signing the Building Michigan Together Plan into law yesterday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and several state and local officials gathered in Flint to celebrate the bipartisan plan’s historic investments in state parks. Chevy Commons, the former site of the Chevrolet plant, is the planned location for Michigan’s 104th state park, funded by the Building Michigan Together Plan.
“Michiganders love our pristine parks and majestic outdoor spaces. Over the last couple of years, attendance at state parks reached historic highs as people sought space to unwind and safely connect with their friends and loved ones. Our parks support so many jobs and local economies too, empowering tourism and recreation small businesses across the state,” said Governor Whitmer. “The Building Michigan Together plan will invest $250 million to improve all 103 of our existing state parks and build a new state park in Flint. All of our state parks are important pillars of their communities. They support local small businesses, create jobs, and give people beautiful, welcoming places to make memories. The bipartisan Building Michigan Together Plan proves that we can come together to deliver on the issues that matter most to families, and I look forward to seeing the impact it will have on our state parks.”
“The City of Flint is known for its beautiful parks throughout the community that offer activity spaces for our families. We appreciate the state of Michigan’s investment in turning Chevy Commons into the first and only state park in Genesee County,” said Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley. “This is a great opportunity to revitalize an area in our community that will remain free and open to all Flint residents. I’m happy to work with Gov. Whitmer to lift this effort into reality.”
“State parks around the nation are serving an increasing number of visitors, while facing ongoing operational challenges that stretch resources to the limit,” said Ron Olson, Chief of the Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division. “A record investment of this magnitude will help state parks reach new audiences, especially in great places like Flint, where a new park will energize the riverfront, create more diverse recreation opportunities and deliver high-quality programs and services. It’s also gratifying progress because one of the chief goals of Michigan’s Blue Ribbon Park Plan was to establish state parks in major urban areas.”
“Securing a state park in our community is critical for placemaking and economic development,” said Dominique Clemons, Chair for the Genesee County Board of Commissioners. “I am excited for this investment into our community that will have a transformational impact and will pave the way toward building a brighter future for Genesee County.”
“Over the past decade, hundreds of Flint teens have been exposed to career paths in outdoor recreation and natural resources conservation and management through our partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Summer Youth Employment Program,” said Dr. Kimberly Leverette, Executive Director of Flint & Genesee Education & Talent, a division of the Flint & Genesee Group. “A new state park at Chevy Commons will bring more opportunities to pursue, such as jobs and a wide breadth of recreational activities to experience. This is a huge win for not only our employment program, but also our community and economy.”
Building Michigan Together Plan
The bipartisan Building Michigan Together Plan includes some of the largest infrastructure investments in Michigan history. The plan will protect clean drinking water, begin dozens of new road and bridge projects, build more affordable housing, expand high-speed internet, improve state and local parks, and support tens of thousands of jobs. More details can be found on Michigan.gov.
The Building Michigan Together Plan’s will invest approximately $26.2 million to develop the new state park in Flint, while the remaining $224 million will help the Michigan Department of Natural Resources address a significant backlog of infrastructure, repair, and maintenance needs at 103 existing state parks.
Combined with the Building Michigan Together Plan’s $200 million investment in local parks and recreation facilities, Michigan is investing a once-in-a-lifetime total of $450 million to make parks and recreation resources safer, more attractive, and welcoming for residents and visitors.
Economic Benefits of Parks
Parks and recreation facilities are a big part of Michigan’s economy, generating value for surrounding communities, creating jobs and helping sustain small businesses. Michigan’s outdoor recreation industry supports billions in state Gross Domestic Product and sustains 126,000 jobs and over $4.7 billion in wages and salaries in the state.
On average, every $1 invested in land conservation leads to $4 in economic benefit, meaning the Building Michigan Together Plan’s $250 million investment in state parks will yield $1 billion in economic benefits for families, small businesses, and local communities.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
AG Nessel Joins Bipartisan Coalition Urging TikTok, Snapchat to Give Parents More Control
LANSING — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general – led by Attorneys General Lynn Fitch (MS) and Josh Stein (NC) – wrote TikTok and Snapchat this week to urge them to give parents the ability to monitor their children’s social media usage and protect their children from online threats using parental control apps.
“I remain very concerned about social media’s impact on the mental and physical health of young people,” Nessel said. “We live in a time when everything is shared on social media. Not only does that foster a comparison culture in which our kids are constantly exposed to unrealistic beauty standards, it also exposes them to the hateful rhetoric spewed by those who hide behind keyboards. I will continue to join efforts with my colleagues across the country aimed at protecting kids online.”
In addition to joining this action, Nessel previously joined investigations into TikTok and Meta Platforms, formerly Facebook. She also remains firm in her stance that Instagram should not launch a platform specifically for children under 13.
Research increasingly demonstrates the negative impact that social media can have on the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of children and teenagers. These range from decreased self-esteem and greater body-image dissatisfaction to increased exposure to cyberbullying and sexual predation.
Bark, which monitors platforms for safety concerns, reported that in 2021 it had analyzed more than 3.4 billion messages and found:
- 43.09% of tweens and 74.61% of teens were involved in a self-harm/suicidal situation;
- 68.97% of tweens and 90.73% of teens encountered nudity or content of a sexual nature;
- 75.35% of tweens and 93.31% of teens engaged in conversations surrounding drugs/alcohol;
- 80.82% of tweens and 94.50% of teens expressed or experienced violent subject matter/thoughts; and
- 72.09% of tweens and 85.00% of teens experienced bullying as a bully, victim, or witness.
As the attorneys general note in their letter, “Parental control apps can alert parents or schools to messages and posts on your platforms that have the potential to be harmful and dangerous. Apps can also alert parents if their child manifests a desire for self-harm or suicide. On other platforms where these apps are allowed to operate appropriately parents have received notifications of millions of instances of severe bullying and hundreds of thousands of self-harm situations, showing that these apps have the potential to save lives and prevent harm to our youth.”
Social media platforms already engage in some content moderation and operate under some community guidelines, but these are not always sufficient to protect children. Parental control apps empower parents to be full partners with the platforms to maintain a safe space online for their children.
AG Nessel was joined by the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Mach 30, 2021
CONTACT: Chelsea Wuth, 517-241-2112, WuthC@michigan.gov
Second booster doses authorized for those ages 50 and older;
LANSING, Mich. – Following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announces that all Michiganders ages 50 and up and moderately or severely immunocompromised individuals over age 12 may choose to receive a second booster vaccine.
Pfizer is the only COVID-19 vaccine currently authorized for those under age 18. COVID-19 booster doses may be given at the same time as other vaccines, including the flu vaccine.
Four months after receipt of a first booster dose, the following are now authorized and individuals may choose to receive:
“Vaccines remain our best strategy to minimize the risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “Those age 50 and older, or those who are immunocompromised and 12 years and older, may now receive an additional booster four months after their first booster. It is important that all Michiganders ages 5 and up get vaccinated if they aren’t already, and we urge Michiganders over the age of 12 to stay up-to-date on vaccines.”
When getting a booster dose, you’re encouraged to bring your COVID-19 vaccine card or immunization record to show the vaccine provider. Downloadable immunization records are accessible for adults 18 and older free of charge at the Michigan Immunization Portal. Visit Michigan.gov/MiImmsportal and upload a valid government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, state ID or passport. If you do not have records in the portal or are seeking records for a child under 18 years of age, contact a health care provider or local health department.
To date more than 6.6 million Michiganders ages 5 and up have gotten at least their first dose of one of the three safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. Eligible Michiganders are encouraged to stay up to date on vaccinations, including booster doses that provide extra protection, including residents of long-term care facilities where outbreaks can spread quickly and extra protection is strongly recommended.
To schedule a primary or booster dose of the COVID vaccine, visit vaccines.gov.
To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit Michigan.gov/
For more information about COVID-19 in Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/coronavirus