If the recent move of the Court of Claims from Ingham County to the Michigan Court of Appeals was not enough, then brace yourselves. On October 31, 2013, four new bills on judgeships were introduced at the Michigan House of Representatives. If enacted, these bills would potentially add eight judgeships between Macomb, Oakland, and Kent County, while eliminating four judgeships in Wayne County and consolidating other Circuit and District courts across Michigan. Here is the breakdown:
First, Macomb County, by way of HB 5121, will gain the most judgeships. Originally, Public Act 228 reduced Macomb County judgeships from 13 to 12; but, will revert back to 13 judgeships on January 1, 2017. Moreover, Macomb County will gain two judgeships on January 1, 2019 and two additional judgeships on January 1, 2021. This change comes as a result of the recent population growth in Macomb County and the expected population growth through 2021.
Second, Oakland County, through HB 5122, will also see change to their current judicial set up. Similar to Macomb County, Public Act 228 reduced judgeships in Oakland County from 19 to 18; however, will restore back to 19 judgeships on January 1, 2015. Moreover under HB 5122, Oakland County would gain one judgeship on January 1, 2019 and an additional judgeship on January 1, 2021. Similar to Macomb County, Oakland County’s population is expected grow through 2021.
Third, Kent County will see the most dramatic changes to their judicial configuration. HB 5123 proposes that the 17th Judicial Circuit Court would gain one judgeship (currently at 9) by January 1, 2015. In contrast, HB 5123 proposes that the 5th District court would lose one judgeship. Additionally, the cities of: Southgate, Trenton, Gibraltar, Woodhaven, Rockwood, Flat Rock, and the townships of Brownstown and Grosse Ile would all consolidate into the 28th District court. As a result of the consolidation, the 33rd District Court would be eliminated on January 1, 2016 and thus, create a three-judge 28th District court. Further, the 63rd District Court in Grand Rapids, through HB 5125, would gain one judgeship.
Fourth, Wayne County Circuit Court will see the most loss of judgeships from the proposed legislation. Under HB 5124, the bill proposes that the 3rd Judicial Circuit would lose four judgeships and thus, reduce the current 60 Circuit Court judgeships to 56. Moreover, HB 5124 received the most opposition of the four bills because of the real need for judgeships to combat the heavy and backed up dockets most 3rd Circuit judges carry. On the other hand, proponents for the bill like Representative Tom Leonard, who sponsored HB 5124, believe that the furthering decrease in population in Wayne County through 2021 will decrease docket sizes and see less of a need for judgeships in the years to come.
By: Fahd Haque, Law Clerk for Moss & Colella, P.C. If you have any questions, please email Fahd Haque at FHaque@mosscolella.com