Lynn Helland, executive director of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission was the featured speaker and Integrity Award recipient during the “Integrity in Our Community” speaker series at the WMU-Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus, July 14, 2017. The Integrity Award is presented to legal professionals who demonstrate the highest integrity in their profession. The event was co-hosted by the law school’s newest student organization, the Society for Personal and Professional Integrity.
Alan Gershel, past recipient of the Integrity Award, former U.S. attorney and current Michigan attorney grievance administrator, who worked with Helland on a number of cases while each were employed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, provided Helland’s introductory remarks.
“We often said that a measure of a prosecutor’s integrity is not what he or she does in public, in a courtroom, when people are watching, when it’s easy to make the right decision,” said Gershel. “The more difficult times really occur when no one is looking, when the lights are not on, so to speak. Lynn was the gold standard. He led by example. He always did the right thing.”
Helland’s presentation was on the topic of personal integrity, and spoke about how individual integrity can influence the community at large.
“None of us think that our integrity is responsible for that overall level of national trust, but it is. Each contribution we make, for better or for worse, has an impact on the whole,” Helland said.
Helland identified and discussed two types of integrity: moral integrity and integrity of thought. He spoke of the importance of remaining objective and honest. He also emphasized the challenges of having integrity, citing brain research that he said shows people are wired so that they handle information that undercuts their beliefs by disregarding or discounting that information.
“For the good of all our communities, I encourage all of us to embrace both moral integrity and thinking integrity. We all want to do that, you already said that, but I encourage you also to recognize how hard it is, and to embrace how hard it is and to try to work through how hard it is,” Helland said.
Before Helland was appointed to serve as executive director of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, he served as assistant United States attorney. Helland has significant experience with Michigan legal ethics as a professional responsibility officer, discipline hearing panelist and ethics instructor. He has been responsible for helping colleagues comply with the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct.
During Helland’s 34 years as a federal prosecutor, he was assigned to complex crimes involving public corruption, health care fraud, national security and civil rights. He has investigated complex economic, environmental and non-drug money laundering crimes. In addition, he has worked internationally within legal systems to obtain documents and/or testimony for prosecution of complex economic crimes. Helland also served as senior legal adviser for the United States Embassy, Kabul, Afghanistan.
Helland served as law clerk to the Honorable Cornelia Kennedy, who was on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. His community involvement includes serving as a board member for Save the Afghan Children, a charity that supports a girls’ orphanage and school in Kabul, Afghanistan; was a board member for Veahavta, a charity that supports a girls’ orphanage in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka; served as a board member and president, Parent’s Association, Oak Trails Montessori School; and has participated in humanitarian trips to Sri Lanka and Haiti.