Ron Acho was on the Frontline during Detroit Riots of 1967

RonAchoUpdatedRon Acho has had a long career as an attorney at Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, P.L.C.  What many people may not realize is that his legal career was an indirect result of the Detroit riots of 1967.

In 1967 Mr. Acho was a hardworking 21 year old working seven days a week at his family’s market in Detroit.  He had future plans of expanding his family’s market and opening a chain of grocery stores.  Everything changed in an instance on that Sunday afternoon in July when his family’s market was burned to the ground only a few hours after the riots began.

Mr. Acho vividly remembers seeing two men with torches walking toward the market. He recalls it like a scene from a horror movie, except it wasn’t a movie.  It was real life. The men were only two blocks away, and Mr. Acho knew these men were coming for his family’s market.  He and his brother took whatever cigarettes they could carry and the cash from the store and fled the market right before the men began breaking the windows and lighting it on fire.

His family had invested their life savings into this market.  “We had no building ownership.  The little insurance that we had did not even cover the cost of the inventory.  We were left pretty much broke,” he explained.

As you can imagine, the aftermath of the riots was devastating for his family.  Left with virtually nothing, Mr. Acho realized he needed to set aside his dream of opening a chain of grocery stores and follow another career path.  Mr. Acho’s older brother, Andy, helped him secure a job as a clerk at Ford Motor Co.’s Rouge Plant.  He stayed with the automaker for eight years while earning a bachelor of arts in business administration and marketing, and graduating summa cum laude from University of Detroit Mercy.  (The most wonderful blessing occurred as a result of the riots because he had to go back to get his degree and met the love of his life, Rita, and they have been married 48 years.)  He went on to earn his law degree from the Detroit College of Law but was unable to land a job in Ford’s legal department, something that turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Mr. Acho joined CMDA in 1974, and, within a year, was made an Equity Partner. The Detroit riots of 1967 still impact the way Mr. Acho conducts business. He has been practicing law for 43 years, so it would not be uncommon for him to begin taking on a lighter load.  However, Mr. Acho is still often the first to arrive in the office and works longer hours than many younger attorneys.  He explains that every day he walks through CMDA’s door he has the mindset that nothing is a guarantee and it could all be gone tomorrow.  He values the importance of maintaining a strong and lasting relationship with current clients and fostering efforts to grow the Firm to ensure it continues to prosper for many years to come.

 

Jim Acho Retained by Lapeer County to Represent County in Counter Lawsuit Against Sitting Judge

Jim Acho 2016Jim Acho has been retained by Lapeer County to represent the County, former Lapeer County Prosecutor–now US Attorney–Tim Turkelson, current Lapeer County Administrator John Biscoe, current Lapeer County Treasurer Dana Miller and others in an contentious action involving sitting Lapeer County Judge Byron Konschuh.

Due to the unusual nature of the case, the case is starting to be covered by the media, and Jim appeared on WJR yesterday to discuss the matter and the position of client Lapeer County.  Please click here to listen to the podcast.

Brandan Hallaq Successfully Handles MLB Pension issue For Acho Client

Acho Ray HerbertBrandan Hallaq, an associate in our Livonia office, recently brought a successful result to a pension issue for a retired MLB great and client of Jim Acho.

Ray Herbert was a 17-year MLB vet (1949-1966) and the American League’s starting pitcher in the 1962 All Star game. Even more meaningful to Jim is Mr. Herbert is a 1945 graduate of Detroit Catholic Central High School, where a number of CMDA attorneys, including Jim and Ray Richards are alumni. Said Jim “Brandan put a great man’s mind at ease through his diligence in dealing with the Pension Board and is such a fine young lawyer that I knew I could trust him to take care of a valued client like Ray. Ray is very pleased with Brandan and even told me ‘Jim next case I want that kid as my lawyer  instead of you’…and I don’t blame him one bit.”

CMDA Client’s TV Show Picked Up

Burgess Acho LaMarrJim Acho has been LaMarr Woodley’s attorney since he turned professional with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Today LaMarr is retired after an All Pro career and has turned his attention to Hollywood and acting and producing. LaMarr filmed six episodes of a TV show he hosts called “Tackle My Ride,” which aired this year on NFL Network and Spike TV. The networks have ordered the show for two seasons and LaMarr will start filming very soon, in addition to hosting his weekly radio talk show on 910 AM in Detroit.

In the photo, LaMarr is on the right and fellow CMDA client (and groom) Prescott Burgess is on the left. Jim attended Prescott’s wedding on Saturday, June 24, 2017 in Chicago, where LaMarr served as Prescott’s best man.  Jim says, “I’ve known both of these men since they were 18 years old and to see the type of men they are today – great husbands and fathers and compassionate, civic minded people, it’s truly heartening. I’m proud of our association with Wood and Prescott on a business level, but far more proud on a personal level.”

Acho Speaks at NFL Alumni Annual Event

IMG_0209Jim Acho appeared at the NFL Alumni Annual dinner at Tam O’Shanter Country Club on June 12, 2017. Jim spoke to retired players and gave an update on the new Baseline Assessment Plan implemented pursuant to the NFL Concussion Class Action Settlement, of which Jim and CMDA are one of the law firms involved.

Photo: Jim Acho with Lions legends and CMDA clients Mike Lucci and Eric Hipple. Lucci was the middle linebacker on the Cleveland Browns last championship team of 1963 and is a member of several Halls of Fame. Hipple, a former quarterback, now runs the Eisenhower Center for military vets suffering with PTSD.

Cross Participates in Pro Bono Expungement Clinic

Matt CrossMatt Cross, an attorney in our Traverse City office, recently participated in a pro bono expungement clinic to clear old criminal convictions.  The clinic is designed to remove barriers to employment and housing for people with old felony and misdemeanor convictions.

Mr. Cross met with participants at no charge to discuss their situation and assisted them with completing legal forms.  Michigan law allows individuals to set aside some, but not all, types of convictions when more than five years have passed since the sentence has been served and probation completed.

The clinic was a partnership between Legal Services of Northern Michigan, Conflict Resolution Services, the Grand Traverse-Leelanau-Antrim Bar Association, and Women Lawyers Association.

Matt Cross is an attorney in our Traverse City office where he focuses his practice on business law, insurance defense, law enforcement defense and litigation, and municipal law. He may be reached at (231) 922-1888 or mcross@cmda-law.com.

Hallaq Wins First Motion for Summary Disposition

brandan-hallaq-profile-photoCongratulations to Brandan Hallaq, Esq. for winning his first Motion for Summary Disposition before the Honorable Archie Brown in the Washtenaw County Circuit Court. Mr. Hallaq successfully drafted and argued the motion on behalf of a condominium association against a co-owner for numerous bylaw infractions and violations of the Michigan Condominium Act. In addition to obtaining an order compelling the co-owner to comply with the condominium documents, the Court granted an award of attorneys fees in the association’s favor.

Mr. Hallaq graduated with his Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Wayne State University Law School in May 2016 before joining our Livonia office.  Mr. Hallaq focuses his practice in the areas of community association, business, and real estate law.  He may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or bhallaq@cmda-law.com.

Congratulations Brandan!

The Five Most Common Mistakes an Elder Law Attorney Sees

Schuster photo for websiteEverybody knows of the problems of aging adults, however few give it the serious attention it needs.  The failure to address these issues appropriately can result in serious financial distress and/or a loss of independence.  I have outlined five common mistakes made by aging adults and tips on how to avoid making them.

First Mistake: Doing nothing
If you do nothing to deal with aging you have a good chance of lifetime probate. That means the probate court must appoint a guardian or conservator to handle your affairs.  One study found that the number one cause of probate guardianship was the need for emergency medical treatment when the patient cannot give consent.

The cost of probate over your lifetime can be enormous and you lose control over your life.   It’s like being a child again.

Second Mistake: Only planning for death
Many people think they are “all set” if they have a will. A will is only effective at death.  We are talking about lifetime issues, not what happens after we die. For example, in a hospital or a nursing home an empowered advocate can mean the difference between life and death.

Third Mistake: Joint property with children
Many seniors think they are all set if they have a daughter or son on their bank accounts with them.  The thinking goes “that way they can pay the bills if I cannot.”  There are many problems with joint accounts.

The first is that it solves only one problem of aging: paying bills. Joint accounts give the child no ability to help the parent in any other way.  If the child calls the insurance company they will ask “Are you the insured?” The child will say “No. But, I’m joint on the bank account.” That goes nowhere.

The more serious problem is the risk of loss of life savings to a child who has financial bad luck.  The same can go for the house.  If a child is a joint owner, then if the child is sued, divorced or goes in bankruptcy so does your property.

And finally, joint accounts can be the source of probate battles after the death. What if a parent makes an account joint with one child? After the parent dies, will the child share it with the other children?  What if the parent’s will says to share equally?  Unfortunately there are no absolute legal rules and questions like these are often answered after a bitter battle in probate court.

Fourth Mistake: Paying employees under the table
People who perform personal services in the home are “employees.”  The recipient of the services is the employer, who is responsible for collecting and paying income, social security, Medicare, and unemployment taxes.

Let’s make it personal. Suppose the lady falls down the stairs carrying laundry.  She can file for workers’ compensation and have her medical bills and her wage loss paid by the employer – you.  If you “let her go” because daughter can now do it, the lady could file for unemployment.  And then you start hearing about back taxes, interest, and penalties

Fifth Mistake:  Not getting legal advice for “means tested” government benefits
Veterans “Aid and Attendance” and Medicaid nursing home benefits are very valuable to elders. But, they are “means tested.”   They have asset and income limits.  Few people know that these programs allow some common sense solutions to losing all your life savings before you get your earned benefits. Like the income tax you need to know what “deductions, credits and exemptions” the programs allow. When it comes to these government benefits get legal advice.

Conclusion: It is really easy to do it right
For the average person a “life care” plan is no more difficult than preparing for “death and taxes.”  All you have to do is identify your trusted assistants and give them legal authority to do what they will need to do – everything. And then make sure they know when to get professional advice.  Do that and you are 99% there to having aging go as smoothly as it can be.

Jim Schuster, a Certified Elder Law attorney, is an Of Counsel attorney at the law firm of Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, P.L.C. He has been licensed to practice law since 1978 and practices entirely in the area of Elder Law. Mr. Schuster helps elders stay independent and in control and helps children of aging parents with the advice and legal documents they need to carry out their parents’ wishes and take care of their needs. Additionally, he assists clients with the complex Nursing Home Medicaid application process.

Attorneys in the Estate Planning and Elder Law practice group at Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, P.L.C. are available to answer any questions about the five common mistakes outlined above.  We offer compassionate, common sense solutions for seniors worried about the future.  Contact us at (734) 261-2400 or www.cmda-law.com.  To learn more about additional issues impacting elder law, follow our blog at cmdaelderlaw.com.

Panel Discussion on Understanding Long Term Care Needs to be held April 20

Gene Richards_8x10@300On Thursday, April 20th Norman E. Richards (Gene), a partner in our Livonia office, will join other elder law experts to present a panel discussion on Understanding Long Term Care Needs.  The seminar will be held at Waltonwood Cherry Hill in Canton and is open to the public.  For more information, please click here.

Norman E. Richards (Gene) focuses his practice on estate planning and elder law.  He assists clients with the development of customized estate plans to address their specific needs, including family owned businesses, senior adults concerned about long term care needs, and special needs trusts for children with special needs.  He may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or nrichards@cmda-law.com.

Grant Obtains Dismissals on behalf of Judge and Prosecutor

Greg Grant 2013colorGreg Grant, an attorney in our Traverse City office, recently obtained dismissals on behalf of a Northern Michigan judge and prosecutor in two separate civil rights cases. In both cases, the courts awarded his clients all of their attorney fees and costs. Mr. Grant aggressively defends judges, attorneys, and municipalities as a regular part of his practice.

Greg Grant focuses his practice on municipal law, employment and labor law, insurance defense, and litigation.  He has extensive litigation experience in the areas of employment and labor law, police liability, first amendment law, due process, Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act, and has earned dismissals in each of these areas.  Additionally, he frequently provides educational and training seminars on municipal topics to clients. 

He may be reached at (231) 922-1888 or ggrant@cmda-law.com.