How Michigan business courts are driving change

LANSING – Marking passage of legislation to fine-tune their jurisdiction, the Michigan Supreme Court recently released a report highlighting the successful efforts of the state’s 16 business courts to facilitate timely, efficient, and consistent resolution of thousands of complex business cases. The report profiles four business court judges who are helping our state pioneer the expansion and continuous improvement of these innovative courts. The Michigan Senate gave final approval last week to legislation tailoring the courts’ jurisdiction, adding cases that can benefit from this specialized process and removing others that do not.
“Just as a patient might go to a medical specialist for a specific health concern, litigants turn to business courts to help resolve complicated disputes so that companies can make decisions and plan for the future based on a clear and timely interpretation of the law,” said Justice Bridget McCormack, the Court’s liaison to business courts.

The report, “Success Stories: How Michigan Business Courts are Driving Change,” includes profiles of Judge James Alexander of Oakland County, Judge Joyce Draganchuk of Ingham County, Judge Timothy Hicks of Muskegon County, and Judge Christopher Yates of Kent County. These judges, along with their colleagues statewide, dispose of roughly 2,500 cases each year.

 “Thank you to Senator Rick Jones for his leadership in helping to fine-tune business court jurisdiction,” said Justice McCormack. “We very much appreciate the support of the Legislature and the Governor to help make sure business court judges have the necessary tools and statutory framework to achieve their goals of consistency and timeliness.”

Business courts in Michigan were pioneered by Macomb, Kent, and Oakland counties in 2011. They expanded statewide as a result of legislation in 2012 that required circuit courts with three or more judges to create a specialized business court docket.

Business courts are part of a broader strategy of the Michigan Supreme Court to improve outcomes, increase efficiency, and improve service to the public. Other steps include measuring and publishing performance data for every court, implementing technology, and reengineering court operations. As part of this strategy, 31 judgeships have been eliminated, saving taxpayers $19.5 million. Fourteen more judgeships are slated for reduction as additional steps are taken to increase efficiency.

Senate Bill 333 was ordered enrolled and sent to the Governor on June 22. More information about business courts—including a case search function for nearly 1,400 opinions—is available at www.courts.mi.gov/businesscourt.
 

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