Parts of Michigan have too many judges, according to a report released this morning by the State Court Administrative Office. The state must eliminate 45 trial court judges as a first step toward re-balancing the workload, according to the 2011 Judicial Resources Recommendations report (JRR), produced by SCAO every two years.
While the report recommends eliminating 45 trial court judgeships, mostly in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Peninsula, it also says that some trial courts need more judges — 31 combined new judgeships, to be precise. But during this challenging economy when funding units, mainly counties, are having a hard time balancing their budgets, SCAO did not recommend creating those new judgeships for at least another two years.
The report also recommends cutting the number of Michigan Court of Appeals judges from 28 to 24.
Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young said that the MSC endorses the recommendations.
“The Court has historically not taken a position either way on the report’s findings, so the Court’s unanimous endorsement is recognition of the superior quality of the JRR,” Young said in a press release this morning. The Court of Appeals, the Michigan Judges Association, the Michigan Probate Judges Association and the Michigan District Judges Association also endorse the report.
Perhaps even more importantly, so does Gov. Rick Snyder, Young said.
The legislature and the governor have to approve any reduction of judgeships. Young said at a press conference this morning that he would be “working across the mall” to help that happen.
Given the state’s current budget challenges, the $157,000 per judicial position (for salary and benefits), Young might actually succeed at it. Further, the state would save approximately $736,636 per year if it eliminates all four Court of Appeals judgeships.