Michigan Legislature passes Court of Appeals reduction plan

The Michigan Legislature has passed SB 849, which would reduce the number of Court of Appeals judges from 28 to 24. The bill now goes to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.

Sounds good, right? I mean, the Judicial Crossroads Task Forceshowed that appeals filings are down so much that the state doesn’t need 28 judges and their staffs. But a review of the bill shows that the court might remain in its current bloated state for some time.

In its current state, there is no set timetable for the reduction to happen. The bill states that one judgeship in each of the state’s four districts will be eliminated if it becomes vacated. So really, it’s not even the next four judgeships to become vacated. Each district can only lose one, so if two are vacated, the seat with the shortest remaining term is the one that becomes eliminated.

If none are vacated via retirement, resignation, removal or death (unless there’s a fifth method to vacate a seat during a term), the seats can be eliminated if a sitting judge chooses not to run for re-election. Of course, if one runs and is defeated, under this bill, it wouldn’t trigger elimination of the seat (Not that it should, necessarily, as it would certainly stifle anyone’s aspirations to challenge a sitting judge. But it certainly could kick the proverbial can down the road even further.)There’s even a clause that protects the seat of Judge Amy Ronayne Krause, who was appointed by former Governor Jennifer Granholm last November and has yet to run for election. 

Michigan’s going to get a smaller judiciary eventually, just not as soon as you might have thought.

1 thought on “Michigan Legislature passes Court of Appeals reduction plan

  1. Pingback: COA reduction: Why not now? | The Michigan Lawyer

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