In April 1888, Eva R. Belles tried to vote in a Flint school board election. Because she was a woman, the election inspectors refused to receive her ballot. Firmly believing she was entitled to vote, she fought that decision up to the Michigan Supreme Court, and won an early victory for women's suffrage.
She retained George H. Durand, former Flint mayor and first president of the Genesee County Bar Association, as her attorney. A provision of the Michigan Constitution gave power to the legislature to provide for a system of primary schools. The legislature set school election voting qualifications in a statute specifying that "every person" meeting certain criteria, including age, property, and parenthood, could vote in all such elections not involving money or tax questions. As mother to Jennie, a school-aged child, and a Flint property owner, Eva Belles met the criteria.
George Durand argued that the "every person" language of the statute, and not the gender restriction found in the Constitution, should control who could vote in school elections. Michigan's Supreme Court agreed, and as a result, women like Eva Belles won the right to vote in certain school elections.
A battle had been won, but final victory for women's suffrage in Michigan would not be achieved until 1918, when the Michigan Constitution was amended to provide full voting rights for women.
Placed by the State Bar of Michigan and the Genesee County Bar Association, 1990.
2017 was the most successful year yet for the State Bar of Michigan Circle of Excellence! More than 60 firms and corporations, all committed to access to justice, appeared on the 2017 COE.
The State Bar of Michigan invites all law firms and corporations with two or more attorneys to apply for the 2018 Pro Bono Circle of Excellence recognizing each firm that fully complied with the State Bar’s Voluntary Pro Bono Standard in 2017. The application deadline is April 13.
The Voluntary Pro Bono Standard calls for attorneys to annually take three pro bono cases, devote at least 30 hours of pro bono service, or contribute $300 to a legal aid provider organization. Firms that can afford to do so are asked to make a minimum annual financial contribution of $500 per attorney and are recognized at the “Leadership Level” of the Circle of Excellence. Individual lawyers who meet the Pro Bono Standard are celebrated locally through Access to Justice programs and the State Bar of Michigan “A Lawyer Helps” program.
“The 2017 Circle of Excellence included more than 60 firms and corporations, making it the most successful year yet for the COE,” noted SBM President Don Rockwell. “I commend all of the firms and corporations that appeared on the 2017 COE. I look forward to building on the success of the COE and hope to see even more firms and corporations on the 2018 COE, which is slated to appear in the June 2018 Michigan Bar Journal.”
Complete the Circle of Excellence application.
The Circle of Excellence is published frequently in the Michigan Bar Journal, posted on the websites of the State Bar of Michigan and Michigan State Bar Foundation, and distributed at the State Bar NEXT Conference. For more information, contact Robert Mathis, firstname.lastname@example.org or (517) 346-6412.