'Unprecedented' Bills to Downsize Michigan Courts Head to Governor

For years, the Michigan Supreme Court has urged communities to reduce the size of their courts -- and for years, most communities ignored this recommendation. So lawmakers took the matter into their own hands.
by | February 15, 2012
 

For years, the Michigan Supreme Court has urged communities to reduce the size of their courts -- and for years, most communities ignored this recommendation. So lawmakers took the matter into their own hands and a package of 17 bills to do just that is on its way to the governor, according to the Detroit News.

Among other changes, the legislation abolishes 36 lucrative elected judge positions in places where the population and court workload have shrunk.

"This is the largest cut in judgeships ever accomplished in the United States," according to the chief justice of the state's high court, Robert Young. "It is unprecedented," he told the paper.

The judges will not be laid off, though. Instead, their position just won’t be filled once they leave it -- either by choice or because they reach the maximum age for the job (70 years old), reports the regional newspaper.

The change is supposed to save the state an annual $5.7 million, but the savings may not be seen for two decades. This year, the move would shave almost $785,000 off the budget.

In addition to reducing the number of judges, the legislation also aims to consolidate some courts. The details of that piece of the puzzle, though, are not yet set, a Michigan Supreme Court spokesperson told the News.

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