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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Sunday, October 5, 2014

36th District Court Judges Must Report Attendance

Michigan's second largest court recently regained partial control of its docket after being supervised by Judge Michael Talbot and the Michigan Supreme Court.  The 30-plus judges of the 36th District Court will report their daily attendance to the High Court's administrative office along with progress on their caseloads; the court administrator for the district court in Detroit will continue to provide the Supreme Court Administrative Office with financial reports as well.

The  36th District Court handles one million cases per year according to Fox News Detroit.  The court's own web site, however, proudly touts a docket only half that large.  Perhaps they need to review their own files a little more closely.

Some big-time felony criminal cases get started in the 36th District Court, situated adjacent to Comerica Park and Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.  Many of today's Tiger and Lion fans will walk right past this court on their way to the games.

Some of the court's revenue woes stem from the quarter billion dollars in uncollected traffic tickets and unpaid misdemeanor fines.  Collecting even a fraction of these revenues would go a long way to relieving some of the court's fiscal pressures.

The recently concluded Supreme Court review resulted in the district court significantly trimming its bloated workforce and streamlining its procedures.  These are moves in the right direction.

On one memorable occasion, this Blogger presented with a matter for which the court clerk could not determine the assigned judge, despite reviewing a copy of the notice sent by the clerk to my client.  When the judge was figured-out, I went to the assigned court room at 10:30 am, only to find the doors locked.  Although the lights were on in the court room, and I could see staff in the back, it took another hour to get the matter heard before a judge.

When I left the court around noon that day, I had the feeling that I was lucky to have my matter heard at all.  Hopefully, those days are over.

Pruning redundant staff and streamlining court procedures will help this high-volume court to provide the citizens of Detroit a crucial public service: access to justice and the rule of law.

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