More judicial reductions recommended to increase efficiency and save money

In its biennial Judicial Resources Recommendations report, the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) is recommending that the Legislature eliminate four judgeships by attrition, reverse two judgeships pending elimination, convert a district judgeship to a circuit judgeship, and allow two sets of district courts to merge. The net result of the recommendations will be a reduction of two trial court judgeships statewide.

These recommendations build on major steps to reengineer Michigan’s judiciary that were accomplished based on previous reports. As a result, 31 judgeships have already been eliminated with 14 more slated for reduction. After accounting for the addition of 5 judges, the total net reduction is 40 seats, saving taxpayers $19.5 million from 2011 through the end of this year. Based on reductions already implemented, additional savings are more than $4.7 million annually. If enacted, the recommended reductions will save an additional $316,880 each year.

“Michigan’s judiciary is focused on being fair and accessible to litigants while being prudent and cost effective with tax dollars,” said State Court Administrator Milton L. Mack Jr. “I urge the Legislature to adopt these recommendations so that our judiciary can continue increasing efficiency while improving service to the public.”

“Evaluating our judicial system and identifying ways to make it more efficient is critically important, and I thank the State Court Administrative Office for their work to develop this report,” said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. “Ensuring the ongoing integrity of Michigan’s judiciary while making the most of taxpayer dollars is essential in our work to provide quality legal services to all Michiganders. I look forward to reviewing these recommendations and working with my partners in the Legislature as we continue to balance Michigan’s judiciary.”

These recommendations are based on a detailed two-step analysis that first examines each court’s caseload followed by an extended consideration of local factors, such as population trends and travel between court locations. The report’s methodology was developed by the National Center for State Courts and the Judicial Resources Advisory Committee.