Last Thursday, the Michigan House of Representatives passed a package of bills that consolidated courts, and shifted
many judicial seats.
The biggest cuts were imposed on the Wayne County Circuit Court, which will lose FOUR judges, effective January 1, 2015.
House Bill 5124, passed by a 67-42 vote, eliminates four Wayne County Circuit Court seats, and now moves to the Michigan Senate for a full vote. MAYBE AS EARLY AS NEXT WEEK!!!
The recommendation to cut the seats comes from the Michigan Supreme Court, and is based on data that shows a decline in Wayne County felony cases. There were 16,732 criminal cases filed in 2011, but only 13, 606 cases in 2012.
Is this because crime was reduced in Wayne County by almost 19% in one year??!!
No. It’s because budget cuts resulted in understaffed departments. Consequently, there were fewer police officers making arrests, and fewer prosecutors issuing warrants.
This is an overreaction to a situation that will soon change!!!
Once Detroit’s financial situation improves, it’s police department will certainly escalate its activities. And, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office will also be able to adjust its staffing as a result of private grants. The number of filings may increase dramatically, and the reduction in judgeships will then cause a backlog, and a quite possibly have a detrimental effect on the administration of justice.
State Rep. Phil Cavanagh (D-Redford) valiantly offered amendments to save some of the seats. He first tried in the Judiciary Committee hearing, and then on the floor, but lost each time.
JUSTICE IN WAYNE COUNTY WILL SUFFER IF WE LOSE FOUR JUDGES!!! WHEN THE FILINGS INCREASE, THE JUDGES’ CASELOADS WILL INCREASE AND THAT MAY MEAN JUSTICE DELAYED!!!
THE BETTER OPTION IS TO ELIMINATE TWO (2) NOW, AND TWO (2) LATER, IF NECESSARY!!!!
WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!!
THE ACTION WE NEED YOU TO TAKE:
IMMEDIATELY contact YOUR State Senator and URGE HIM OR HER TO SUPPORT AN AMENDMENT TO HOUSE BILL 5124 THAT WOULD REDUCE THE NUMBER OF JUDGESHIPS TO BE ELIMINATED IN WAYNE COUNTY FROM FOUR (4) TO TWO (2)!!
Most state senators have offices in the Farnum Building. Senate leadership is in the Capitol. A sample letter for you to use is attached.
PLEASE ACT IMMEDIATELY!!!!
MAKE A PHONE CALL!! SEND AN E-MAIL or FAX!! WRITE A LETTER!!
The elimination of four (4) Wayne County Circuit Court seats will ultimately result in a backlog of cases and a delay of justice;
The data compiled by the State Court Administrative Office that shows an 18.7% decline in criminal filings from 2011 to 2012 does not consider reduced staffing in both the Detroit Police Department and Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office;
Once Detroit’s budget issues are addressed, and the prosecutor receives the private donations, filings will return to pre-2012 levels;
To avoid delays in justice, there should be some cuts this year, and additional cuts later, if necessary!!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION TO THIS IMPORTANT MATTER!!!
The Honorable _________________________________
P.O. Box 300__
Lansing, Michigan 48909
Re: House Bill 5124
Dear Senator ____________________:
As a Wayne County/Michigan resident, I strongly urge you to support an amendment to House Bill 5124 that would reduce the total number of judges in the Wayne County Circuit Court by only two (2), rather than the four (4) contained in the proposed bill.
The elimination of four (4) seats will ultimately result in a backlog of cases and a delay of justice. Criminal filings are down only because of reduced staff in the police department and prosecutor’s office. Unlike the filings, crime is NOT down in Wayne County by almost 19%!!! Once the departments replenish staff, the filings will most certainly increase.
Consequently, I urge you to support an amendment that takes a “wait and see” perspective by eliminating only two seats now, and additional seats later, if necessary.