Michigan judges can't disregard pronoun preferences of parties and lawyers, new rule says
The Michigan Supreme Court has adopted a new rule that bars judges from using pronouns that are inconsistent with the preferences of parties and lawyers. Image from Shutterstock.
The Michigan Supreme Court has adopted a new rule that bars judges from using pronouns that are inconsistent with the preferences of parties and lawyers.
Michigan is the first state to adopt such a rule for its courts, according to Reuters.
Judges who don’t want to use designated pronouns may instead use neutral forms of address such as “Attorney Smith” or “Plaintiff Smith,” Justice Elizabeth Welch said in a concurrence.
The new rule says parties and lawyers may state one of three preferred forms of address and one of three groups of preferred pronouns in the name section of case captions.
The preferred forms of address can be Ms., Mr. or Mx. The three pronoun groups may be he/him/his, she/her/hers or they/them/theirs.
Judges may use a person’s name, the preferred salutation or personal pronouns or “other respectful means that is not inconsistent with the individual’s designated salutation or personal pronoun,” the rule says.
Those options should be used when addressing, referring to or identifying the party or attorney—orally and in writing.
One of the dissenting justices, Justice Brian Zahra, said the proposed rule had generated hundreds of comments—pro and con—before its adoption.
“All told, this is a fluid political debate into which our judicial branch of state government should not wade, let alone dive headfirst and claim to have resolved,” he wrote.